Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Time to shake things up

Next May, two of Europe's biggest clubs will meet in the final of the Champions League. Nothing new there, you say, and you're right. However, for the first time in the competition's history, the game will be played at the weekend.

It's my personal view this is the latest step towards the creation of a competition that will see these so-called European giants break away from their respective domestic competitions and create their own Super League.

Now Arsene Wenger's admission that he believes such a competition is likely to be formed 'maybe in 10 years' gives further credence to such an idea. And you know what - it might be a good thing all around.

You wouldn't know it, but English football is in its most worrying condition for a long time. At a time when the world is suffering the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the beautiful game appears oblivious to the outside struggles.

As lower league clubs like Darlington and Bournemouth struggle to stay in business, Manchester City have being spending hundreds of millions of pounds on players, and Chelsea have decided John Terry is worth paying £200,000 a week to.

League Two Darlington came close to
going out of business this summer

How can English football, celebrated all over the world for its history and 92-club Football League system, sustain itself in its current state? As the haves become fewer, and the have-nots increase almost by the day, it is simply a matter of time before competition in football is determined purely on money.

All in all, the game is in need of a bit of a shake-up.

So, if Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool et al. want to go and join a European League, let them. The monopoly of the big four has become so boring that it's taking any joy and surprise out of the wonderful unpredictability of football.

In the meantime, before they do join their league, let's open up the Champions League cash cow by giving a place in it to the FA Cup winners. In one fell swoop the glory of the greatest cup competition would be restored, and with just three league places - one of the big four will miss out - unless they win the Cup.

At least then we'll see some rotation in who is receiving all this European money, and it may force the big clubs to run themselves more properly, not relying on the Champions League they need and expect to get. Leeds gambled on receiving it every year - and look what happened to them.

It's also time to restore some worth back to the League Cup. If it's the trophy representing the Football League, then let's make it purely a competition for the 72 teams below the Premier League.

Scrap the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, and let's see League Two and League One
sides making the semi-final and final. We've seen in recent years that Cup runs for sides like Burnley, Wycombe, and Tranmere mean so much more to fans of those clubs than the top ones.

It's time to see clubs like Oxford
(in 1986) winning the League Cup again

How refreshing and enjoyable would it to start out in a competition not knowing who is likely to be in the last four? How much better was the FA Cup in 2008 when the likes of Cardiff, West Brom, and Barnsley were in contention? This is how the League Cup could become every year.

A League Cup run could then become as profitable as one in the FA Cup, giving clubs life-preserving money. And I for one would be far more interested in seeing Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry in a final than the same old teams we see now.

It's time to restore some unpredictability and excitement back into football. If variety is the spice of life, then the game is badly lacking some at the minute.

If United, Arsenal, and Chelsea fans think they're excited about the prospect of a European Super League - they should take a look at the rest of us.


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