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Monday, April 11, 2005

'Champions League' terms and conditions: need not be champions, and there is no league

The Champions League is not a champions league.

The vast majority of the teams featuring in the competition aren't champions.

And it is not a league in the traditional sense where all the teams play each other and whoever finishes top of the table at the end of it are declared champions.

A tournament that is close to allowing dire teams like Everton or Bolton the possibilty of entry should never be named the 'champions' league.

They do not merit to be associated with the term 'champions'.

Last year Chelsea reached the semis of the 'champions league'. To qualify they had narrowly finished in fourth place above Liverpool. They had not been champions of England since 1955. And yet they were on the verge of winning the 'champions' league.

I could not accept this logic. This was a main reason why I was totally against them winning the trophy and was subsequently delighted when they were knocked out.

This year Liverpool are holding a first leg advantage in the quarter-finals of the 'champions' league. They finished in fourth place to qualify for the competition. They have not won the championship for 15 years. They are 30 points behind first-placed Chelsea this year. And yet they are on the verge of winning the 'champions' league.

Yet again, I can't accept this logic.

The greedy money-men at UEFA, presumably encouraged by the greedy money-men chairmen at Europe's top clubs, allowed this potential illogical situation to occur when hyper-inflating the competition formerly known as the European cup. They also changed the name of the competition. But they chose the wrong name.

The Champions League must be renamed to reflect what it actually is. It must be renamed to remove the logic behind its name, a logic that is compromised by what it now is.

I propose: The European Semi-All-Comers Mini-League and Cup.

It may not be a stylish name, but it is far better than the current name because it is accurate. In other words, it does not deceive; it is honest.

A preference to changing the name is to change the entrant criteria. I like the concept of a 'champions cup' as the premier club competition in Europe once was. I could even accept this concept being inflated to accept runners-up of the domestic leagues, because there is merit in coming so close to domestic glory.

Teams who at no time have looked like viable contenders of their domestic league should never be allowed to play in the top competition in Europe. Yet the champions league as it is currently conceived allows Everton or Bolton of circa 2004-05 a realistic hope of actually achieving this. This is a disgrace to what the European cup once was.

I would restore the honour of the top club competition in Europe by reducing the number of teams that are allowed to enter it.

But as this is unlikely to happen, I would at least like the deception to end, and have the competition renamed to reflect what it actually is.


Blogger Skippy said...

I like the current Champion’s league format. I also love the name of the competition, I love the music before matches and above all in the champion’s league you get to watch some quality football.

I cannot think of a previous champion’s league winner who was not worthy of the title. The reality is in order to win the champion’s league you have to prove your self over 13 games. This requires, consistency, intensity, dealing with pressure, and it takes footballers to levels, which they are not required to reach in their domestic leagues. The latter is particularly true of the knock-out stages.

I don’t buy the argument that “poor teams” should not be allowed to enter the champion’s league. Who decides who is poor?

I think it is astonishing that the author of this article cannot accept Liverpool winning the champion’s league, nor can I accept him not accepting Chelsea winning the champion’s league last season.

4/11/2005 9:39 pm

Blogger SKG said...

I totally agree with skippy. I think the Champions League would be really boring if only the league winners were competing in it. To have the so called 'minnows' in there adds some spice to the entire competition. Anyway a lot of people call the competition 'the European Cup' so I'm not too bothered if 'the Champions League' is technically incorrect. May I ask if ts' thoughts would differ if Arsenal, presuming they finish 2nd or 3rd this season, were to win the Champions League next season? Would Arsenal not be worthy winners?

4/12/2005 6:33 pm

Blogger T said...

If Arsenal were to win the champs league without having finished in the top two, I would have to grin and bear it!

I sincerely believe that only teams that finish in the top two should qualify for the top competition in Europe.

Arsenal have finished in the top two every season since 1997-98 so they have consistently proved their worth to feature in this elite competition.

I would have big misgivings if Arsenal were to finish in 4th place and still have an equal right to play in the same competition as the team that finished first.

Teams that finish third place or below should feature in the UEFA cup. This is a competition that needs to regain its former prestige. And this is the way to do it.

A decade ago fourth place was never talked about.

Now there is a 'race for fourth place'.

Just think about this concept carefully.

A 'race for fourth place'!

Fourth place is now talked about like its the holy grail. Sam Allardyce recently said that finishing fourth would be better than Arsenal's achievement of going a whole season unbeaten. This is wrong.

But UEFA's current format allows all this to occur. I would like this to change.

4/13/2005 9:27 am

Blogger Abdul said...

I think there is merit in both lines of argument. The Champions League is misrepresentative of its name and, probably, its proud traditions.

At the same time, the competition is great to watch and nothing, absolutley nothing, beats the feeling of watching a great Champions League tie between two European heavyweights on a midweek night.

4/14/2005 12:17 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

AS Abdul said, good points in both arguments. The 'Champions League' has added a name of prestige to the competition. The number of actual league champions competing from the various European leagues wouldn't hold much weight in terms of interest, right now. For instance, in the UK, having four teams to follow, even as a neutral, is very compelling. Neutrals cheer on for teams they do not support. Only today I was in discussion with a shop assistant who is a Spurs' fan, who admitted that he cheered on Arsenal to get through when they played Bayern away.

'Champions League' is misrepresentative but the norm is to give a name to a competitive contest and apply less of an accurate meaning. It's not 'League', it is initially leagues but us fans are not too bothered about that, we understand the concept of 'Champions League' is very informal. We know the knock-out stages are not.

It is of some concern when the likes of Bolton or Everton, Middlesbrough or Charlton emerge into positions that could see any of them reach further to qualify to partake in the campaign. Those are the rules as they stand, these teams earn the right to be there, then so be it. It is certainly up to those who feel they are more worthy, to prove it. Prime example is Liverpool. Spurs use to be a familiar mention in Europe, Aston Villa, Nottm Forest. These teams have past European competition pedigree and yet they have foregone on the aim to get into position to be there in the Champs League. Forest are in danger of slipping yet another division.

So while the 'Champions League' could be something of a misnomer, and inaccurate to it's actual reference, the competition is decent enough to include a number of teams from one country to create more competition, and to some degree, install more integrity into the game.

I note in ts' reply that he mentioned he would "have to grin and bear it" if Arsenal were to be 3rd yet win the Champions League next season. Being 2nd wouldn't be good enough either. Do I detect that it is good for the goose, and then eventually for the gander?


4/14/2005 4:46 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

And let me add that I too have looked on a team needing to win their respective domestic title before they go on to win the Champions League trophy. But looking at how four teams are allowed, albeit the top two have a concessionary pass while the following two have to go through an initial qualification round first, a team need not be a champion to take part. Therefore, the concept that one needs to be a domestic title holder first is not that strong an argument with myself.


4/14/2005 4:50 pm


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