Friday, January 26, 2007

The Chairman Of The Board

So after 17 years, Lennart Johansson has been ousted, and Michel Platini is the new President of UEFA. There are those that are concerned about this, primarily because he was endorsed by Sepp "Weak" Blatter. Now Blatter has many faults, but he has backed the winning horse here, in my humble opinion. Platini wants to bring back a little bit of equality to European football, and it seems possible that he might just put all of the right noses out of joint.

His main proposal, to reduce the number of clubs from the "big" clubs playing in the Champions League from four to three. This proposal, popular with the smaller nations that would fill the vacuum, may well have been what won him the final vote. The argument is a fairly simple one. European football is a rapidly becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. The same vapid clubs making up the last eight every year, playing each other in an atmosphere of fake hatred stirred up by the media. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot with Chelsea and Barcelona logos on them stamping on a human face - forever.
The winners pocket the most money, and the losers fall further behind - and so on, and so forth. Getting rid of the fourth placed teams from The Premiership and La Liga may just give some of the clubs from the rest of Europe a little bit more of a chance of getting further in the competition. It's not just the television money. Not all of the great footballers in Europe come from England, Spain or Italy. Many of them come from Eastern Europe - the possibility of a Champions League run with a home nation may persuade them to stay rather than getting the first plane out of their home town when a bigger club waggles its cheque book.

He is also widely believed to be in favour of Sepp Blatter's proposition for each club to have to field six players from their own country in each match. Whilst I would be in favour of this - it would go still further in stopping the monopolization of players by one or two clubs, and force the bigger clubs to invest more in their youth squads, rather than just buying up all of, say, Southampton's best seventeen year olds - I'm not sure that it can ever happen. European employment law would almost certainly prevent it. Having said that, however, it's encouraging to see that UEFA have somebody that is no longer prepared to bow down before the wishes of the G14.

Ah, the G14. The self-appointed representatives of football's "elite". Whose interests do you think they're acting in? Yours? Mine? Of course not. They're after grabbing as big a share of the pot as they can. They'll be hopping mad at this result. I've already seen Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger on the television berating UEFA because, apparently fans want to see the "biggest" teams. Well, gentlemen, I've got news for you. They don't. They want to see their own teams. The people that earn the money for the Champions League aren't even football's fans. These are the people that park their arses on a sofa every Tuesday night and don't even bother going to matches. Stuff them. If the G14 want to piss off and start their European Super League, let them go. Personally, I couldn't care less. They'll have to show their true colours now. We'll get to see them as the self-serving, avaricious clique that they are. For now, there's a slight possibility that we might see just a glimmer of equality in European football. It's only very slight, but it might just be a step in the right direction.


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