Advancing the Game

At a time when Europe’s football leagues are becoming stale, a new system could trigger a new football renaissance.    

By Justice Khumela

Wembley Stadium

PHOTO: Martin Pettitt

In 2004 rumours emerged about a possibility of a breakaway European Super League consisting of Europe’s top 14 clubs. The idea was to create a power league that would include all of the European A-list clubs, a list which includes soccer giants such as Manchester United, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid.

While UEFA’s (European football’s governing body) 32 team Champions League remains the best club football competition in the world, there has always been calls to have a regular league structure format for Europe’s top clubs.

The rumours were eventually squashed by UEFA, as they felt this would destroy European football. Any possibility of a Super League was put to bed, until recently. A recent development within UEFA has given rise to Super League advocates. The soccer governing body is considering expanding their Champions League format to 64 teams.

There are suspicions and rumours that that top clubs might reject this new format, and possibly counter the idea by creating a European super league.

In 2009 UEFA spokesperson, William Gaillard, said any possible super league was a “non-starter”. “Such an idea is against our president’s philosophy,” Gaillard added.

Fast forward to 2013,UEFA president, Michel Platini, says the governing body is considering all options. Platini’s fear is that a super league would promote interests of a selective few while the rest of the continent suffers. The super league is the brain child of a number of top European club and football administrators, of which Barcelona President Sandro Rosell is rumoured to be one of its main backers.

Football on the European continent is doing well, however there has always been a drive for a new system; a bigger and better system. It would be next level if not the ultimate level. I’m one of those who supports the need for a new, improved system but not the proposed super league idea. I would support a system that enriches the whole of European football and, in time, expand to other continents.

The idea that I’m backing will pit European nations football leagues against one another. Where every league federation or governing body would draw any player, regardless of nationality, from their league to represent the league’s team setup that would play other leagues teams. A competition that would involve some mammoth clashes such as England’s Barclays Premiership Vs Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundersliga vs France’s Ligue 1, just to mention a few.

When one considers the top class superstars that make up the English, Italian, German, and Dutch leagues, there would be a lot of mouth- watering clashes. A new culture altogether. New alliances formed and new bragging rights at stake.

There would be an easy balancing factor regarding participation: A cup of 16 or 18 leagues teams. It would be easier to expand and manage the entity. This entity would bring a new dimension to inter-European club football.

A new focus would appear in Europe, the strength of leagues would be tested. At a time when European football power seems to be shifting from Spain to Germany, this new structure could open up new challenges to the current European football’s status quo.

Just the idea of assembling an English Premiership starting XI against other countries starting XI would appeal to football fans.

It would be easy to finance this cup. Sponsors would trip over and bend backwards to get involved in such a project. Each league federation would be a guardian to their team. The amount of revenue that would be injected into soccer federations would ease a lot of financial woes some leagues are encountering.

A number of European leagues are becoming stale and one sided. Two leagues in particular are being run by a system of two super clubs while the rest of the league cannot catch up or compete. This is the case of La Liga and the Bundesliga. Both domestic leagues have an unbalanced system that splits the title race into a two- horse-race, season after season.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are some of the best and most successful football teams on the planet. While in Germany it is Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund that are the league’s dominant powers. Other teams in their leagues are depleted, have less funds and resources to compete with these teams.

It speaks volume if two of the biggest leagues in Europe are so greatly unbalanced and uncompetitive. A new system and structure could liven up football once again.

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