The Chump-ions League
It’s that time of the year, post World Cup melancholy whilst counting down the Saturdays till the big kick-off. Getting excited about the prospect of attending pre-season friendlies, admiring the groundsman’s handiwork over the summer and tasting the new flavour Pukka pie.
What sort of anorak (or perhaps more appropriate for the Chumpions League, corporate suit) is looking forward to a dreary, miserable Tuesday night in October when United are already through and playing a team of reserves against some second rate European no-hopers where the result is meaningless. Answer, no one.
The same teams qualify for the quarters year upon year and continue their monopoly of the game, suckling on the rich teat of the Chumps Leagues’ well of cash. When this teat is removed, clubs are sent into a spiral of decline. (See Leeds for the prime example, and hopefully Liverpool in the next few seasons). The financial situation, even for the clubs that are in the competition every year, is unsustainable. Look at the mounting debts of the leading giants in Europe and the astronomical wages they pay. It’s only going one way, and that is financial disaster.
It has become such an overblown corporate monster that it takes precedent over all other levels of football. (And who drinks Amstel, seriously?) With “The Champions” ringing in their ears, do we seriously expect the likes of Platini and Blatter to give a shit about grassroots and lower league football when they’ve got their cash cow to milk.
Most of the stars expected to flourish in South Africa underperformed and looked well off the pace. I put this down to simply the number of games they are expected to play, and 13 games to win the Chumpions League certainly does not help this situation.
I’m not saying get rid of the Chumpions League permanently, although a name change should be on the cards as its the biggest misnomer in football. I suggest having a straight knockout format, much like the FA Cup, with no Sepp Blatter style seeding to protect the big teams. This would obviously be the fairest solution and lead to much more tense and exciting games.
I’m certain most true football fans would agree with my suggestions. The only problem would be the shortfall of TV money. If you were to disband UEFA, or at least remove some of the overpaid football bureaucrats, and put in place a salary cap, I’m sure a compromise could be reached for the future benefit of the game. Otherwise, I can only see another decade of debt and pointless Champions’ League nights with Jamie Redknapp’s crotch staring at me.