The European Champions League group stage got underway on Tuesday night and it felt nice to go back to watching the continent’s elite compete against each other. Every fan of football, whether they will admit it or not, wants to watch the best sides in the world compete on a regular basis.
Domestic football, certainly in this country, has changed for good and will be dominated for the foreseeable future by the same half a dozen clubs. The unpredictability once talked about has almost disappeared completely and during the Premier League era, over two decades, there have only been five winners of the trophy.
Recently in France we have seen how PSG spent vast sums of money on world class players to transport them to the upper echelons of European football within a couple of seasons. Replication of this huge jump in fortunes is also now underway at Monaco too which means unless further takeovers come French football will be dominated by these two clubs for the next few seasons.
In Spain the Primera Division is dominated entirely by Barcelona and Real Madrid. Any of the supporting clubs that get close are decimated by sales following their short term success and as a result have to start again. The knock on effect is that the league becomes weaker over time as the acceptance of their domination sets in.
Over in Italy, Serie A is gradually becoming stronger and the additions both Juventus and Napoli have made this summer should make them a force in Europe this year. However, the finances of the majority of Italian clubs prohibit serious investment and the top players do not regard the league in the esteem they once would have done.
The Bundesliga is perhaps the most attractive league at the moment but is again dominated largely by Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. There is no doubt that German football has the best infrastructure but dethroning Bayern and the ever impressive Dortmund is just too much of an ask at this time.
When you then add the likes of Basle, Celtic, Galatasaray, Porto and Zenit into the equation there appears only one possible outcome; a European Super League. The topic has always provoked quite strong views and is generally frowned upon but when you examine the modern game in more detail it seems the next logical step.
These super powers of European football are so secure on their pedestal that something almost incomprehensible would have to happen for them to fall any great distance. Even with Sir Alex Ferguson departing and David Moyes arriving Manchester United remain the biggest club in England. Their name alone has longevity that would last many seasons without success.
Modern football is everywhere and is almost impossible to ignore. The leading teams, players and now even managers make the front page headlines almost as frequently as the back. The money involved has become in some instances quite perverse when you look at the economic situation we are in but still football continues to consume everything it comes into contact with.
There is huge demand for these ‘big games’ and with easier and more affordable travel links to the continent these days it wouldn’t be too much of an issue for supporters. When you consider that travelling to any away game in the Premier League can cost anything from £75-250 it puts it into perspective. Why be travelling to Stoke on a Saturday afternoon when you could enjoy a weekend in Milan whilst going to one of the greatest stadiums in the world to enjoy a game of football.
It is the clubs now that have the power of the authorities and governing bodies of this game. Groups such as the G14 (disbanded in 2008) have already posed the possibility of a break away. With the banality of some of the domestic leagues on the continent it is approaching the time for a rethink.
For true competition to exist the goal posts need to be adjusted and removing some of the elite clubs from their domestic leagues could do this. Although there would need to exist some form of promotion and relegation to this Super League which would enable the domestic league to remain appealing.
It would provide the mid table sides a chance at improving their standing and would create more of a winning mentality. It would benefit the players and supporters of clubs not used to winning trophies or playing in Europe and would enhance the domestic leagues.
There are many issues that would need to be ironed out before anything could actually take place but some form of breakaway is inevitable in this writer’s opinion. Demand for top level competition is only increasing and it will be the clubs who decide what to do next.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)