1822: Man Utd: Champions League is n
by : Bill Urban
"You may say it is a selfish attitude but it cannot be good for Spanish television that no team from Spain reached the last eight and you also have to look at the sponsorship deals going forward..." Manchester United chief executive David Gill
Selfish? Perhaps not. In fact, the rest of the misguided, out-of-date, overly traditional miscreant football supporting population might prove to be thankful to you for pointing out that the Champions League is in fact played for the benefit of Spanish television and various sponsors.
Obviously, supporters of "lesser" clubs had all been labouring under the clear misapprehension that football matches were meant to be played on pitches, between football teams, in front of loyal supporters.
That’s such an eighties attitude. An obsession with the past, when the European Cup was contested between solely the champions European clubs, with a random draw for every round of the competition.
Clearly, modern football is played in the boardroom, and clear and present advantage should be given to football teams, or public limited companies, that swing the heaviest pocketbooks.
Never mind that the Champions League matches against Milan were both full of good football, from both sides, and that part of the attraction of the match itself was that two tough sides with lots of tradition in Europe and the ambition to win were meeting early in the competition.
Never mind that your club, sorry, plc, Barcelona, Arsenal and Real Madrid all going out in the round of 16 this year is a clear indication of the fierce competitiveness of the Champions League in general. Never mind that had Sir Alex Ferguson deigned to field a stronger team against Fenerbahce, you might have finished first in your initial group. Never mind that you were seeded to finish first in that group as well; if anything, that is further evidence of how unfair and discriminatory a practice it is to force glamorous, world-wide brands like Manchester United to slum with the commoners on the field of play.
Precedent for arranging the competition to favour the richest clubs already exists; the Champions League, of course, allows more than the champions of every UEFA country to compete. Indeed, when your plc won the Champions League in 1999, on the only night ever in Barcelona, you had finished in 2nd place the year before in the Premier League.
After the Champions League has been repaired, you might put your brilliant and fertile mind to work on fixing the Premier League as well, Mr. Gill.
Indeed, why stop at "seeding" the quarter finals? Why not "seed" the entire competition?
You, Senor Perez, David Dein, and the representatives from other massive retailing entities can get together in Old Trafford every year, sit at specially installed tables, and smack each other with your piles of financial records.
Whoever squeals loudest is eliminated.
You might have to have a word with your manager, though. His counterpart at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, agrees with you that, as far as the Champions League is concerned, he who has the biggest purse has the biggest purse, and that’s all that matters.
"You can't afford to have Real Madrid and Manchester United - big clubs who invest so much money - going out in the last 16... You will have a revolt if it continues like that." said the clear inferior to your manager.
Given that Sir Alex and Arsene have had modest disagreements on an occasional basis in the past, perhaps a quiet word is in order. Wenger has given you several new avenues to pursue, Mr. Gill.
Big investment going out in the Round of 16? Preposterous.
The winners of the group stages should be the 16 teams with the highest profits.
No, wait, sorry, profits mean the company is actually making money. Your profits have just decreased by 50%, have they not, Mr. Gill? Surely there is no connection between this minor accounting problem and your call to change the Champions League.
No, we will seed things by turnover instead; whoever can wave the biggest numbers about in the media is in.
Genius. And the threat of civil disobedience raised by Wenger? Quality.
Imagine a hunger strike by club executives all over Europe. Why, the damage to 5-star restaurants and hotels would be incalculable. Accountants, lawyers and player agents would be mortified, and destitute. Surely Wenger’s implication is an idea with much merit behind it, Mr. Gill.
In short, the rest of Europe, particularly the supporters of all the smelly little clubs who only participate in the Champions League as designated fodder for the rich clubs like your plc, need to accept their foreordained, predestined role in the scheme of things.
Football as an athletic competition, as a sport, as a contest decided on the field of play, is on its last legs, Mr. Gill. Do the right thing and get rid of the matches all at once.
No need for any mundane, cheap activities like games any longer...