Ushering in a New Era of Soccer

Lately there has been some talk coming from Barcelona saying they would like to see an expanded Champions League at the expense of a shortened La Liga. I have to say that I am in favor of this. I am even in favor of going so far in creating an European Super League. I would much rather see a Barca/Arsenal match-up more often than watch Barca whoop up on another low-level Spanish club like Levante. And to think Barca could play Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, AC Milan, Inter, and the likes of Bayern Munich on a weekly basis gets me excited.

Yet, I still understand the importance of the domestic leagues, and the significance they provide to the game. I also would still like to see International soccer continued to be played. Yet, I see how national teams suffer from a lack of cohesiveness and form, because they seldom get the time to train together. So just having a superleague in the form of the NFL is out of the question for European Soccer.

The Plan

Therefore, a compromise must be reached, and it should be reached with the schedule. Currently, top players play too many matches and seldom have time to rest. And at the moment many top clubs are actively in the pursuit of three trophies at the very moment. This to me creates a lack of focus, and downgrades the importance of specific trophies, like the FA Cup or Copa del Rey.

So in the spirit of reform of sports leagues I so frequently bring to this blog, I thought I’d begin by offering my proposal to solving the Super League question. Here it is:

Domestic Leagues

First we start by limiting the amount of teams a top European Domestic League can have to 16. This creates a 32 match schedule for a domestic league. Here’s the catch lets play those starting Sept. 1st and have them run to December 31st. That’s 16 weeks of two matches per week. No other league or tournament can occur at this time. It will allow each team to focus on the domestic league and would be sure to create some intense action. It would also mean teams would have to stick with their roster from the summer transfer window through the end of a domestic campaign.

Continental Action

Then there would be a break from playing in the month of January. The ground and weather is shoddy and it would allow a month to determine the Super League schedule. So beginning on Feb 1st, the Super League would begin. I envision, three or four Continental divisions or 16 teams each. If you didn’t make a Super League, you can join whatever Cup you’d like, and we would get another 4 weeks or 32 games of top flight football. Thus ending the Super Leagues on May 31.

Scrapping the current co-efficient, the clubs would be pulled like this:

  • Three top finishers from each of the domestic leagues in England, Spain, Italy, and Germany (12)
  • The Top two clubs from France (14)
  • Dutch Champion (15)
  • and the winner of the previous year’s Second Division. If the winner qualifies directly it goes to the second place finisher. This is how a Russian, Greek, Belgian, or Turkish Club could qualify.

In my mind none of the other countries have clubs that could compete on a regular basis with the likes of the giants, and its not like the second division would be full of minnows either. It’s high quality soccer all around. Whatever the case, if you think the current set up is huge this would be humongous, and make a boatload of money.

You may also be wondering whats happens to competitions like the FA Cup or Copa del Rey. I think this is where the teams that don’t qualify for a continental competition would compete during this time. I think the FA’s would be smart to give the winner of that competition a free pass in the upcoming domestic league.

International Play

For those of you paying attention, we are left with the months of June, July, and August, or as I would like to think of them, the International zone. International teams would have two and a half months to do what they do. (Euros, Olympics, WC Qualification, World Cup, repeat). To me it just seems practical to have a more relaxed international schedule at this time. We close by giving the players a break the final two weeks of August.

Conclusion

This plan would be really hard to implement in bureaucracies of Europe, but it would be effective and I think fair, while protecting the importance of the domestic leagues. It would be great for fans and continue to line the pockets of owners and players. Disagree with me? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

3 Responses to Ushering in a New Era of Soccer

  1. first off, thanks for picking up on my blog post earlier in the week.

    not bad, but there are many flaws in this idea.

    1. you make it possible that the team that makes the super league may not even be the same team, in terms of personel. it already happens as it is, and this makes it worse.

    2. you left out some big leagues in your synopsis. the RPL (russian league) is listed as the 6th best league. also portugal is 5th, and the Ukraine is 7th and currently has Shaktar Dontesk pushing hard in the Champions League.

    3. You talk about playing less games, but you now have teams playing 2 matches per week all season long. How is that less?

    i think a schedule that integrated the super league alongside the domestic league, much like the champs league does now, makes more sense to me.

    what about the “other” tournament? the uefa cup. it needs a place, so that the 2nd tier domestic champs have something to play for. europe’s an awfully big place to just have 32 teams playing. the champs league at least acknowledges each domestic champ with a place in the qualifying rounds.

    plus, what about the fa cup, copa del rey, coppa italia, etc. when are these played?

    i think you’ve got a good start here, but it needs a lot of work. let’ chat tomorrow at lunch and we’ll solve the problem!

  2. David

    As you might imagine, I am concerned about the bias toward Western Europe in your proposed Super League. It seems problematic to guarantee a spot to the top Dutch side when both the Russian and Ukrainian Premier Leagues are ranked higher in the UEFA Association Coefficient than the Eredivisie. I think you could still have 32 teams, as in the current Champions League, but with 4 groups of 8. The first 7 weeks could be round robin, with 16 teams advancing. If you had two legs for each of the knock-out rounds up to the Final, that’s 14 weeks. And despite your assertion that teams from other countries couldn’t compete on a regular basis, there could still be situation where a Shakthar Donestsk has a good leg and knocks out a Roma.

    The real advantage of this system is that there would usually be at least a few matches per week that have blockbuster media appeal, but also some where there’s a genuine chance for an upset.

  3. Brandon

    Bryce & David,

    Great points. I imagine I can concede on the format of the Champions League in question to be more inclusive and be larger, but I like the idea of the top 16 in Europe teams going head to head week in and week out. Yet I’m willing to review some of this.

    My counter-offer will be posted soon. We can work this out.

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