12 November 2007

Football 1, Platini 0

Platini abandons cup winners plan

Domestic cup winners will not get to play in the Champions League after a proposal from Uefa chief Michel Platini was rejected, BBC Sport understands.

But the team finishing third in the Premier League will now go straight into the group stages and the fourth team will face two qualifying rounds.

The new changes will be ratified at Uefa's executive committee meeting in Lucerne on 1 December.

BBC sports editor Mihir Bose said: "Platini wanted the new club champions to come in from the less privileged parts of Europe.

"He has got that part of the plan through - six new clubs will come in.

"But the other part of the proposal, which involved the cup winners, has been completely abandoned."

The meeting's other significant outcome was the automatic qualification of the team finishing third in the top leagues, including the Premier League.

"The Premier League has won a thumping victory over Platini," added Bose.

It’s of little interest to see me continue to crow over keeping the status quo, and an end to Platini’s proposal to give a Champions League place to domestic cup winners.

What is interesting is the “compromise” plan to allow the 3rd placed team directly into the group stages and make the 4th placed team play an extra qualifying round. And why we hadn’t heard about it sooner, because it actually is a fair compromise.

I am surprised that 3rd placed teams will go straight into the group stage proper, but an extra qualifying round for the 4th placed teams isn’t too much to ask in exchange for 6 spots in the group stage secured for Platini’s pandering to the smaller nations. It will satisfy Platini by getting more champions of smaller leagues in the competition proper, while I don’t imagine it’ll prevent the worthy 4th placed teams from qualifying.

And let’s be honest. This has actually been a good year for the underdog, with Rosenborg’s performance, Besiktas’ win over Liverpool, and Shakhtar Donetsk above both Celtic and Benfica in Group D.

But there’s also been games like the reverse of the Besiktas/Liverpool fixture, United putting 4 past Dynamo Kiev while resting players, and Arsenal’s 7-0 hammering of Slavia Prague.

Yes, every now and then someone might pull a surprise, usually at home where it’s a tough place to travel, but more often than not, there’s a clear gulf between the sides. And despite my allegiances, I firmly believe the best teams -- the ones with an actual chance of winning the competition -- should be playing, no matter how harsh that comes off.

There’s always been interesting proposals voiced about returning to a 64-team straight knockout competition, including on last week’s Guardian podcast, but I haven’t been able to envision a feasible way for it to come off. There would have to be some kind of qualification, because if math serves, there were 76 teams in the CL this year if you count all 3 qualifying rounds, as well as the issues with seeding and sponsors (TV won’t be happy about the number of games unless they’re staggered).

Please forward any suggestions to UEFA, but right now, I’m not convinced there’s much better than the system in place.

Besides, these changes, while satisfying UEFA, should be mild enough to prevent any showdown with the G-14 or a European Super League, as Gordon Strachan was musing about earlier. Which I think everyone would like to avoid.

And just as a final aside, I have to say, the tone of the BBC’s article, in “breaking” the story and gloating about the Premier League “thumping” Platini, is an absolute riot.


is this betting said...

I think an interesting suggestion (actually it is mine) should be that no two teams from the same city can qualify for the Champions League.

This should have the effect of allowing Champions League football to be watched by a wider range of people while helping some of the smaller clubs.

Is it right that Glasgow, Milan, Istanbul and London regularly has two teams playing in the competition?

There would obviously be strong protests by certain teams (Arsenal, Chelsea) but the better spread may help the long term survival of football.

JD said...

Should there be a Salary Cap in Football?
Personally I think there should be! It’s just getting to be stupid money in football at the top of the premiership!
It’s always the same teams at the top proving that football success is based purely on money which ruins the idea of it being a sport! They’ve done it in rugby, basketball, hockey and American football and it makes the sports more competitive and better to watch!
I like to Bet on Football from time to time and most matches don’t hold much surprise who is going to win, its boring! Football Betting would be so much better if you saw a team at the bottom pulling off an amazing season and beating last season winners in a close fought battle for the title!
Make things fair! It shouldn’t be about money!