Bringing the magic back to European football

Shake it up Platini
How pleased are we that we didn’t finish 4th? Chelsea’s success in lifting Europe’s biggest football trophy also snatched away the Champions League place that Spurs had beaten Newcastle to last weekend.

As we know Newcastle and Liverpool had already qualified for next seasons Europa League but are now joined by ‘arrys ‘appy Spurs. What a shame eh?! Couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke and team could it?!

In reality I wanted to see Chelsea win it on Saturday night, and not just to see Redknapp pushed out of Europe. Even though the blue part of London have bought the title over the last few years, I think they have toiled enough with managers and the like in recent times to finally get their paws on the trophy. Abramovich will probably now put his toy down and walk away.

Anyway this guest blog isn’t about Chelsea lifting the trophy or Spurs failing to get a Champions League place. It’s about something else. Watching the final go me thinking about European competition, and whether or not it still has big appeal?

Sky televise 15 live games every game week and millions of pounds for the privilege. It’s this money that affects the way European competitions are structured. It pays for UEFA to have a Champions League in its current format, it pays to have qualifying which filters out the smaller unpopular teams and most of all it pays to have a group stage where some of the worlds “big boys” face each other before any can be knocked out.

The Champions League, and its little brother the Europa League, begin at the end of the previous domestic season with teams fighting for European qualification. The amount of teams qualifying for each tournament depends on the coefficient of the country, so meaning that England and Spain get more spaces because they are bigger more successful nations, and therefore dwarf the smaller nations.

These rules mean that the nations with a low coefficient have clubs in the pre-qualifying and qualifying stages who aspire to make the lucrative group stages which in turn means that the smaller clubs rarely get the chance to make the group stages AND the bigger teams always do so securing more and more money so becoming richer and richer. The Champions League, therefore, does not represent a league of champions as the name would suggest. What it actually represents is a group stage of the rich and famous, plus a few upstarts.

The Europa League can be summed up easily in a few words “wish we were in the Champions League” and that’s the sad truth of how teams who wanted the big league but ended up with second best. Like Spurs and Liverpool who don’t take it seriously because they’re “too big” for it. The only clubs in recent memory who have been bothered were Fulham, Newcastle, Everton and, this season, Stoke, and even then they don’t progress that far (bar Fulham’s final exploits). For me the competition is a dead duck and needs changing.

In the 70s and 80s the love for the European Cup was felt by all and it was an integral part of world football. What’s different now? I tell you, a league stage, a group stage, which is seen by all is a money making scam. Gone are the days when the small teams were going to the Nou Camp for a two leg cup tie, now it’s a game of chess which includes resting players, when it should be a proper knocked competition where Man Utd can be drawn against a lowly Welsh qualifier.

The figures say that 72 clubs start Champions League qualifying and almost 200 clubs start out in the Europa League. Of which there are probably only about 10 champions of respective countries and the rest are made up from the top three or four from England, Italy, Spain and Germany. What UEFA needs to do is have ONE competition which takes the top eight teams (example below) from each league in Europe. Then, because they wouldn’t scrap seeding, have a qualifying round for the lower seeded teams. Then just open the competition up to a free draw with no seedings, straight two-leg knockout cup competition where big teams aren’t favoured and literally anything could happen.

TV wise Sky could pick the top 10 games each round to show right down until the quarter, semi and grand finale. It would reduce the amount of games played so reducing the workload on “overworked” players, cut down on the money spent by fans, allow smaller clubs the chance of earning more money and playing on the bigger stage, and most of all increasing enjoyment/bringing life back into the competition.

How the numbers work…

Either way competition would have eight rounds, all two legs apart from the one game final.

53 countries in UEFA competitions x 8 clubs = 424

Qualifying Round (clubs in countries with bottom 10 coefficient)

So teams would be whittled down from 424 to 256

Then the cup proper….

256 teams – 128 matches
128 teams – 64 matches
64 teams – 32 matches
32 teams – 16 matches
16 teams – 8 matches
8 teams – 4 matches
4 teams – 2 matches
2 teams – 1 match

This would mean that a total of 15 games would be played by each of the teams in the final, or possibly 17 if they had been through qualifying.

So in a nut shell things do need to change, the competition must evolve to survive. The long term sustainability of the Europa League needs to deep investigation, and clearly my idea isn’t without its faults but it’s a simplistic way of bringing the old feel of the European Cup back to the people who matter most, the fans. But hang on, we never matter really, do we Sepp?

Follow me on twitter @BillQuayMag

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133 thoughts on “Bringing the magic back to European football

  1. There’s not only the financial benefits of the Europa league albeit minuscule in comparison to the CL but it also gets the club noticed in Europe.
    That in itself is a huge benefit for attracting new players, fans and commercial opportunities .

    I would never underestimate the achievement of qualifying for the Europa league this season.


  2. Thanks for bringing me up to speed Andy, not to go over old ground but what was Troy saying like?
    First and last time to Corfu for me like, the papers were a day behind, really expensive buying things and the Internet was expensive to connect to in the hotel but the connection was rubbish aswell… and still no bog roll down the loo… what the hell is all that about like????

    Are the boys in SA now?


  3. Sharpy
    Apparently there was a bust up between the BOD and Pardew 🙄 , teams not yet in SA but will later be confirmed that they’ll be going there in July.
    Kept me amused for a week 😆


  4. @Sharpey

    It’s true about the bust up it’s just my source said it would be outed in the press but it never materialised.

    Apparently Rotary Vests mediated and sorted it oot owa a spliff. 😛


  5. Troy
    Does your source know what the ‘bust up’ was about? Transfers? Contracts? Credibility of Sources? 😆


  6. If there was any truth in that rumour at all it may be the performance of the team against Everton. I know Ashley was raging about the way we finished the season last season against WBA and dropped league positions.
    Arsenal and Spurs certainly played there last game like they wanted 3rd alot more than we seemed to. I’m sure if it was anything it would have been no more than a storm in a teacup – hence nothing coming out about it.
    Im sure the board would be disappointed not to achieve 3rd or 4th coz of the revenue but probably quickly realized (thanks to a Pardew heated reminder) how well they have done this season.
    No, I’m not Troys source – it’s just a theory


  7. Master Troy; Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand.

    [Young Andymag tries to do so and fails]

    Master Troy; When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.


  8. On another topic(personal 😮 )
    Just finished my Maths exam, two exams down, three to go, last one’s Friday. Then I’ve eight days of relaxing.


  9. Master Troy; What do you hear?

    Andymag;  I hear nothing. 

    Master Troy; look at your feet and see the grasshopper. 

    Andymag;  how did you know it was there master ?

    Master Troy;   I heard its heart beat. 

    Some day I will learn you the art of the master. 

    Andymag;   oh yes please master Troy. 


  10. ah poor Spuds hell slap it up them and old sloppy chops too, couldn’t happen to more deserving people.

    Andy have you become Master Troys young apprentice


  11. Master Troy; listen young AndyMag. What do you hear now?

    Young AndyMag; still nothing oh Master Troy.

    Master Troy; the grasshopper still lives.

    Young Andymag; How do you know? Can you still hear its heart beat? 😯

    Master Troy; no, it must have escaped the sole of my wrestling boots and it’s landed on the end of your nose! 😛

    Young Andymag; but you asked if I could hear something and not see something. 😯

    Master Troy; I know young Andy, I heard it fart and the smell should be drifting up your nostrils anytime now. 😛

    Young Andymag; Poooooh ! Master Troy it’s true ! It stinks!

    Master Troy; 😎


  12. Evening chaps remember I mentioned the other night about signings well I can say who the Frenchman is we have apparently triggered a realease clause on: GIROUD

    Sorry if you all already know this but my pal who you all may think is pulling my leg but I love it so oh well said that we have triggered a release clause but montpellier are not even talking to us about a deal as they are furious and want to wait till after the euros. Unfortunately it involves a big money move for one of our players and most likely demba ba either in a swap deal or him off to Psg.

    I personally think its garbage as montpellier have just won the league and he is a big player right now. Big bucks aswell. But he heads up the list for pards frontman. Trouble is my journo pal told me that drogba is defo leaving so until either Happen I can’t be sure.

    Just thought would let you know! Journo mate said also hazard considered joining us if we got champs league but of course we could never afford him:
    Could all be garbage but at least things are happening. As for our other possible massive transfer I can tell you axel my man it’s not who you think. That one no update on 🙁


  13. Aye Andy let’s see eh!

    Ice I know it’s silly but I can understand the logic it we had a player we wanted to sell makes sense to get maximum for him.

    On the GIROUD release clause he reckoned it was a measly £10m which would explain why demba might be a makeweight.
    If its true that would be amazing Carr just keeps producing but I reckon other big clubs would be in for him for definite


  14. Troy your teaching him well 😉

    LST > Could all be garbage but at least things are happening ? but if it garbage how does it mean things are happening 😯 😕


  15. troy, andymag- 😉 😉 😉 😉 😉 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: 😉 😉 😉 😉 😉 😉 😉 p.s. the mackems are still shite 😀 😀 😀


  16. Troy – I mean it could be garbage as in GIROUD could have no release clause or that we are even close to signing him but there is no question we are in for the player. How that takes shape and form is purely on journo info. But he is definitely our top striking target


  17. well Liam we’ll just have to wait and see, but I think we’ll be waiting a while as I don’t think there will be much transfers done untill after the Euros. 😕


  18. Dave….Transfer wu=indow doesn’t open until the last day of the Euros so you could be right 😉


  19. Liam….the trouble is that if this lad who plays in the Dutch league comes you’ll never be able to claim prior knowledge if you don’t name him before he’s named elsewhere 😉


  20. Dave…I know but with that theory we could have sorted them in Feb/March/April if we wanted 😉 …….. I know what you mean though, it’s always puzzled me as to how clubs announce transfers outside the window, when surely the transfer can’t be registered with the relevant FA’s until the window opens. I think transfers can be done between clubs in the same FA now though 😕


  21. Aye Richie true but I plan to let someone in on it so they can back me up if the time comes!
    Dave that’s true all this talk about debucy seems far too premature teams don’t want to do business until after euros


  22. Andy..maybe but don’t know if they worth the paper they’re written on really…same as a proper contract in that case 😆


  23. far as I can find, pre contract signals an intent for the player to sign for a particular club and the club to sign him, providing 2 clubs come to an agreement with fee and personal terms between the player and the buying club. It looks like any party can bin it at any time if agreement isn’t reached, the only benefit seems to be that it keeps other clubs out of it whilst negotiations go on……in theory, although I doubt it stops agents still touting players around 😕


  24. RICHIE your reet about contracts which ive said myself a few times (bog rolls imo) in fact there a case last wk,cannot think who it was,sign a pre-contract with a PL club,but has now signed another in spain/italy


  25. That Giroud talk sounds fantastic! But I would be more worried about the players we bring in for the defense! That was our biggest weakness this 2nd half of the season, and also the glaring difference between us and Man City when we played them. Their attack could always just go for it and rely on their defense to pick up anything that came thru. We couldn’t do that at all


  26. Well there should be some more glamour to the Europa league next season with Newcastle, Spurs and Liverpool competing. No offense to Stoke, Fulham and Birmingham but howay. 😆


  27. DJG
    Also with the likes of Inter, Schalke and the CL drop outs it’ll be a good competition this year.


  28. Still would have preferred fourth. More prestige and it would have given me an emotional day last sat’day and that’s what football is all about


  29. @DJG

    You say;
    No offense to Stoke, Fulham and Birmingham but howay.

    Despite you saying no offence, by use of the word Howay, you might as well have explained they are unglamorous sh1te clubs that devalue the competition. 😛


  30. Troy, about +5C at night and around 15-20C during the day – winter over here mate…


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