PVC: Should the Champions League be reserved for champions only?
It’s the biggest, richest and most drawn out club competition in the world. The UEFA Champions League is rightly considered the pinnacle of club football, and many believe it’s the pinnacle of all football in terms of sheer quality.
But should it continue in its current guise?
Some say the Champions League should return to its roots and be a competition reserved for the champion teams from each European League. After all, it IS called the Champions League.
Others suggest the competition has benefited hugely from allowing more strong sides from the big European leagues into the competition.
But where do YOU stand on the argument?
In this week’s instalment of Pitney v Coxon, our two pubcast sparring partners take opposing sides for the argument that I’ve heard (and had) with mates, cab drivers and workmates alike.
Should the UEFA Champions League be reserved for champion clubs only?
Mike Coxon says YES
The Champions League should be just that…a Champions League.
I know how great it is to have Barcelona vs. AC Milan, and if that were the case the world (and Clive Tyldesley) wouldn’t have “that night in Barcelona”. But I have two major problems…
Firstly, the disparity in European footballing nations. Since 2000 only teams from Spain (five times), Italy (three times), England (twice), Germany (once) and Portugal (once) have won the Champions League. And Porto were something of a blip. Compared that to the 90s: Italy (three times), Spain (twice), England, Germany, France, Holland and Yugoslavia all once. And going back, yes teams and nations dominated but there was a greater depth of countries who’s champions had a chance. Will we ever see another Romanian team reach the knock-out stage, let alone win the thing? Or a Scottish team for that matter.
In fact, can you honestly you can see an Champions League winner coming from outside Spain or England, with Italy and Bayern Munich at a push? All this has one cause – money. And what will keep happening? More money will pile into these leagues. With the possible exception of the Russian teams (keep an eye out for Anzhi, home of Eto’o, Roberto Carlos & Zhirkov), no one will break these barriers.
And secondly, it’s taken all the prestige from all other competitions. Even the Premier League pales in comparison (just ask Mr. Abramovich and his revolving door of managers). The Europa League is a joke, most teams don’t even want to be in it and the few that do tend to be either resurrecting their season or savouring a rare jaunt to the lesser reaches of Eastern Europe (Stoke will reach the final, that’s my tip). It’s a patronising tournament for losers.
The solution? Well we’re always hearing about how teams play to many games…so play less. 4 groups, 16 teams after qualifiers, you’d still get a good enough quality. This season you’d be looking at Manchester United, Barcelona, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Ajax, Zenit St Peterburg, Lille, Olympiakos, Rangers, Copenhagen and Shakhtar Donetsk. Big clubs, big games, and after a few years you would hope a slightly more level playing field with top players wanting to play in the top tournament.
And then below that you have a reformed Europa League; a genuinely competitive, top class tournament with the best of the rest. Remember when you’d get the likes of Liverpool, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Arsenal in the UEFA Cup final? That could happen again and what’s more you get that bit more prestige for the teams from smaller nations. Would Shamrock Rovers rather face Fulham (no disrespect) or Chelsea? And there’d be an actually competitive Super Cup at the end rather than a glorified friendly.
Europe should be the pinnacle of club football, but everyone deserves a chance and not just the rich elite. Just don’t bring back the Cup Winners Cup. That was rubbish.
Simon Pitney says NO
I want to play a little quiz with you – Can you name me the current champions of Estonia? Of Macedonia? What about the current champions of Iceland? If you know the answers to the above then you really ought to get out more, but should the quiz above leave you scratching your head then don’t worry you are like almost every other current football fan.
Lets try another quiz – who finished second in Spain last year? Third in the Premiership? What about the runners up in Italy? Feel more comfortable now? Of course you do because you are now talking about some of the largest clubs in the world, who can parade the best players and ultimately play the best football.
There will never be a “European Super League” but in the current Champions League format we have the closest thing possible. Want to see Barcelona play Milan? Simple just tune in midweek – want to see Barcelona take on Skendija (Answer to quiz question 2)? I would wager not – a)because the gulf in class would be enormous and b) the standard of football wouldn’t be worth tuning into and c)the result would never be in doubt. I don’t pay money to watch one sided events but I would happily pay to see Giants of the game going head to head in the latest of an ongoing battle for supremacy.
To those who quibble and state the Champions League should only be for Champions – I think your argument is with grammar rather than the current product – keep the teams as they are but rename back to the European Cup – problem solved.
To illustrate my point I have taken 32 random champions of Europe and conducted a draw (no seedings) – so if you listen to the “Champions League for Champions only” argument – this is what you could have been left with!
Boraz Banja Luka
The only thing the above has in common with the current tournament is that once again Man Utd got an easy draw! Seriously look at the above and ask yourself it is more palatable than the current offering that gives you Aguero, Sneijder and Ronaldo?
Whose side are you on? Vote now!
Which Pubcaster do you agree with? Should England be ranked fourth in the world? Register your vote using the poll below and we’ll announce the results on the next column. Also, feel free to add your thoughts and comments on the issue by using the comments box at the foot of this article.
LAST TIME ON PVC: Should England be ranked fourth in the world?
20% said YES
80% said NO
Score: Pitney 1-0 Coxon