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Could multi country leagues work? 

For smaller countries, competing with the best leagues is getting too tough and need innovation. Other sports have it, could football?

Fans in Ireland have researched and are looking to develop their proposals for an 'All Island' league.

https://allislandleague.com

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15 minutes ago, RevFan said:

Could multi country leagues work? 

For smaller countries, competing with the best leagues is getting too tough and need innovation. Other sports have it, could football?

Fans in Ireland have researched and are looking to develop their proposals for an 'All Island' league.

https://allislandleague.com

Aren't the Dutch and Belgian leagues on the verge of merging?

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Totally it helps grow smaller nations too

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3 minutes ago, Dr. Gonzo said:

Aren't the Dutch and Belgian leagues on the verge of merging?

It has been put on hold indefinitely due to the coronavirus crisis...

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18 minutes ago, RevFan said:

Could multi country leagues work? 

For smaller countries, competing with the best leagues is getting too tough and need innovation. Other sports have it, could football?

Fans in Ireland have researched and are looking to develop their proposals for an 'All Island' league.

https://allislandleague.com

And the MLS is made up of the best from both USA and Canada...

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Just now, Eco said:

And the MLS is made up of the best from both USA and Canada...

Not the tinpot sides though :ph34r:

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1 minute ago, nudge said:

It has been put on hold indefinitely due to the coronavirus crisis...

I still think they should do it tbh. I don't know why I feel this way though... and tbh part of me thinks it's "unnatural" that 2 leagues with their own histories should be merged together. But I do think overall it would benefit Dutch and Belgian football and help them against the big money of England, Spain, Germany and Italy when they face each other in Europe (and stop big clubs from poaching their players because they can't say no to fat piles of money considering the finances of the league).

But that opinion isn't rooted in any sort of fact at all, it's literally how I feel without knowing too much about Dutch/Belgian football other than these clubs: Ajax, Feyernoord, PSV, Standard Liege, Club Brugge and Anderlecht - and even then, the club of those I know the most about are Ajax because Ajax are legendary.

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3 minutes ago, Dr. Gonzo said:

I still think they should do it tbh. I don't know why I feel this way though... and tbh part of me thinks it's "unnatural" that 2 leagues with their own histories should be merged together. But I do think overall it would benefit Dutch and Belgian football and help them against the big money of England, Spain, Germany and Italy when they face each other in Europe (and stop big clubs from poaching their players because they can't say no to fat piles of money considering the finances of the league).

But that opinion isn't rooted in any sort of fact at all, it's literally how I feel without knowing too much about Dutch/Belgian football other than these clubs: Ajax, Feyernoord, PSV, Standard Liege, Club Brugge and Anderlecht - and even then, the club of those I know the most about are Ajax because Ajax are legendary.

Isn't Belgium undergoing a lot of issues politically between their Dutch and French speakers? Might cause more issues if their league was the actually merge with the Dutch one. 

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Just now, Eco said:

Isn't Belgium undergoing a lot of issues between their Dutch and French speakers? Might cause more issues if their league was the actually merge with the Dutch one. 

Fuck if I know, I do know that most of Belgium speaks Dutch - but in Brussels they mostly speak French. No idea of any problems between them though, although it wouldn't surprise me.

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The A-League.

Also FC Andorra, San Marino FC and Vaduz.

I'm trying to think of others. The MLS seems to be the obvious example here.

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5 minutes ago, Dr. Gonzo said:

I still think they should do it tbh. I don't know why I feel this way though... and tbh part of me thinks it's "unnatural" that 2 leagues with their own histories should be merged together. But I do think overall it would benefit Dutch and Belgian football and help them against the big money of England, Spain, Germany and Italy when they face each other in Europe (and stop big clubs from poaching their players because they can't say no to fat piles of money considering the finances of the league).

But that opinion isn't rooted in any sort of fact at all, it's literally how I feel without knowing too much about Dutch/Belgian football other than these clubs: Ajax, Feyernoord, PSV, Standard Liege, Club Brugge and Anderlecht - and even then, the club of those I know the most about are Ajax because Ajax are legendary.

I posted it before in the other thread, but while it would surely be better for the bigger clubs, I'm not sure how it would affect the smaller ones that would have to remain in their respective domestic leagues. With most of the money and interest shifting to the new joint league, domestic leagues would become second tier championships and will probably struggle with generating revenue? I know the proponents of the merger claim that the money from the new joint league would trickle down to the smaller clubs outside of it, but somehow I'm skeptical...

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2 minutes ago, nudge said:

I posted it before in the other thread, but while it would surely be better for the bigger clubs, I'm not sure how it would affect the smaller ones that would have to remain in their respective domestic leagues. With most of the money and interest shifting to the new joint league, domestic leagues would become second tier championships and will probably struggle with generating revenue? I know the proponents of the merger claim that the money from the new joint league would trickle down to the smaller clubs outside of it, but somehow I'm skeptical...

Looking at what they've proposed in Ireland, they have proposals to try and ensure the future of the domestic league at the same time.

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31 minutes ago, Dr. Gonzo said:

Aren't the Dutch and Belgian leagues on the verge of merging?

I can actually see a lot of sense in that. Reckon you'd potentially have that league become accepted into 'the top 6' of leagues.

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The ABA (Adriatic Basketball Association), features clubs from the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia).

Examples like the ABA or the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) show that it can work in other sports, and as a result of smaller countries banding together to try and compete with larger nations.

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3 hours ago, Eco said:

Isn't Belgium undergoing a lot of issues politically between their Dutch and French speakers? Might cause more issues if their league was the actually merge with the Dutch one. 

 

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Celtic are not the only team in green and white Desmond has an interest in.

Last October he was invited to invest in Dublin club Shamrock Rovers. It was a club he watched as a boy (selling match programmes) in the late 1950s and 1960s when Rovers would pack out their Milltown ground. He also saw another Dublin side, Drumcondra, face Atletico Madrid in the 1958 European Cup’s qualifiers.

“It appealed to me to invest in the club because after they went into a major decline, they were rescued by their supporters,” he says of Shamrock Rovers. “They built a whole new model: stadium, new training ground, under-age teams, developing a youth policy. They are trying to keep their young players at home and allow them to finish their education. I like that a lot. They’ve a very good young chief executive in there called Brendan Murray, who really impressed me. I decided to invest on certain terms.

“And they’ve the same jersey as Celtic, so no confusion. With Brexit, it could be good if Rovers develop some young players. We could trial them and vice versa, we could conversely send some of our players on loan. Co-operation, nothing formal.”

Rovers are ambitious, sit eight points clear at the top of the League of Ireland at mid-season and last night hosted AC Milan in a Europa League qualifier, losing 2-0.

But, as with Scotland, Irish domestic football faces challenges sporting and economic. Desmond likes the All-Island League idea proposed by businessman Kieran Lucid. It would bring clubs from both sides of the Irish border into one competition. But it has opponents on and off the pitch.

“If the structure is on an all-island basis, we could progress,” Desmond says of Irish football. “We have to look at the size of the island and replicate the rugby model. They have provinces and clubs, north and south, and they face each other on a weekly basis. While there are political and cultural differences, they are unified in developing the sport of rugby on the island of Ireland. I’d like to see that happening (in football).

“I’d like to see an all-island soccer team and then players wouldn’t have to pick allegiance and so on. We’d have something we could unify around. Is a Unionist any less of a Unionist because he supports an all-Ireland rugby team? I don’t think so. Is a Republican going to be less of a Republican because he supports an all-Ireland soccer team with Unionists playing on it? I don’t think so.”

He sees this in the context of a changing Ireland and a changing world and change isn’t stopping. Nor is Desmond.

“We have had an influx of people from all over. When I grew up, you saw no one from Europe or South America or Africa. Now we’ve a whole village of Brazilians in Ireland, Nigerians, Romanians, etc; we’re a confluence of nationalities. They have all got their culture and histories and we learnt to embrace these differences.

“Change happens because of leadership. The powers that be on both sides can make this happen. It is in everybody’s interest to make the island of Ireland a more competitive soccer force.”

Dermot Desmond, Celtic's owner and an investor in Shamrock Rovers, wants to see an All-Island league in Ireland. Following their rugby counterparts.

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1 hour ago, Gunnersauraus said:

I wouldn't mind a British league personally 

I don't like the idea of it, as there is no historic rivalry there. Seen proposals for a 'Czechoslovakia', 'Yugoslavia' and 'Former USSR' leagues with the clear difference that these clubs used to play against each other and actually have rivalries.

Would Scottish and English clubs really care that much? I don't see any benefit for it. I'd much rather play Dundee, Dunfermline or Hearts again (in an expanded Scottish top league) than merge and go to places I've never heard of in England.

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1 minute ago, ScoRoss said:

I don't like the idea of it, as there is no historic rivalry there. Seen proposals for a 'Czechoslovakia', 'Yugoslavia' and 'Former USSR' leagues with the clear difference that these clubs used to play against each other and actually have rivalries.

Would Scottish and English clubs really care that much? I don't see any benefit for it. I'd much rather play Dundee, Dunfermline or Hearts again (in an expanded Scottish top league) than merge and go to places I've never heard of in England.

Thats fair. It would probably only benefit Celtic and rangers who would suddenly have massive cash come in from the english league. I think though a british league excluding English teams might work though. Can understand why a lot of people wouldn't like it though.

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A British league excluding English teams would just be the Old Firm dicking everybody. Same as at present really. The Scottish Challenge Cup now features teams from every country in the UK plus the Irish Republic, not sure how it has gone down with Scottish fans mind. Been to a couple of fixtures in it and the standard is a bit patchy - I love it all the same but god knows it wouldn't be sustainable. Teams that barely crack 300 or 400 gates as it is aren't going to fare well with 600 mile away days across the Irish Sea.

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“Football is best when it’s local: my town versus your town,” says Kieran Lucid, an Irish tech entrepreneur based in Belfast. “You don’t want to be getting on flights all the time.”

But what if it is too local, too small, too niche to be of interest beyond the parish?

That is a circle Lucid has been trying to square for the last four years, as he is the driving force behind the All-Island League, a plan to bring together the best sides from Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) have left the others behind and the Premier League has become a behemoth,” he explains.

“Football is going the same way as the digital economy: a few big winners and then a long tail of losers. The situation here is the two national leagues are on their knees — their combined TV deal is worth less than half a million euros. Denmark has a similar population and the 14 teams in their top league share €40 million.”

After a year that has seen the United Kingdom finally exit the European Union, heard growing calls for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom and forced all of us to retreat inside our houses, it is refreshing to hear someone make the argument that together is better.

Lucid is not alone. In fact, his belief that combined, cross-border leagues can be bigger than the sum of their parts is catching.

Last week, it was widely reported that Belgium’s Pro League clubs had voted unanimously to merge with their Dutch neighbours to form a “BeNeLiga”.

It is a story that has come around before and, given the cultural and economic ties between the countries, the question many were asking was: why hasn’t Luxembourg been invited to make it a BeNeLuxLiga?

And then, a few days later, FIFA president Gianni Infantino joined in by suggesting Mexico and the United States should team up to create a league “that could quite well be the best in the world”.

Canada did not get a mention but, unlike Luxembourg, this was just an oversight. What Infantino had in mind is a fusion of La Liga MX and Major League Soccer (MLS), which is already a cross-border league, to create a soccer showcase for a North American market of 500 million people.

The fact that Infantino, a man who believes football’s global potential is being held back by European domination, is thinking these thoughts is not that surprising — he has already backed the creation of an African Super League.

But the fact he is thinking these thoughts as FIFA boss is hugely significant because, until very recently, world football’s governing body believed the club game is best played inside national borders, except for special occasions such as the Champions League or, better still, its own Club World Cup.

FIFA does not think that way any more and its rationale is much the same as Lucid’s: local is nice but there’s not enough money in it. This is certainly what motivated last week’s Belgian Pro League vote, although what they actually voted for is not quite what was reported.

“(Consultancy firm) Deloitte have been employed by various big clubs in Holland and Belgium to work on a proposed BeNeLiga,” explains Alex Muzio, chairman of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, the Brussels-based team that have just won promotion to Belgium’s top flight.

“The roadmap for the idea included a stop-or-carry-on vote in March 2021. If you’re one of the clubs in Belgium that isn’t paying for this work and you’re asked if you want to carry on not paying for something that might be good for you, the answer is probably yes. And if you’re one of the clubs that’s driving this, the answer is also probably yes.

“So, the reports saying the Belgian league has unanimously decided it wants to merge with the Dutch league are wide of the mark. What happened was the clubs unanimously decided to keep looking into it.”

Right. But is it a good idea?

“The only positive thing that has come out of COVID-19 for football is it’s become extremely clear that the fans are everything,” says Muzio. “Without them, games are hollow experiences. So the first question should be: is the BeNeLiga good for the fans?

“If it’s a well-structured league, that’s fair, where you have the best teams from both divisions, with promotion and relegation in a transparent way, I don’t necessarily see that as a negative.

“But the number of European tickets will have to decrease — it’s impossible for the BeNeLiga to have more European spots than the Premier League or any of the other big leagues.”

At present, the Belgian and Dutch leagues send their five best teams to European club competitions. Nobody thinks UEFA, European football’s governing body, will give a combined league 10 spots in its competitions when the Bundesliga, La Liga, Premier League and Serie A only get seven.

Deloitte’s proposal, which has been circulating for over a year, is for a league comprised of eight Belgian teams and 10 Dutch — the imbalance based on the Netherlands’ larger population, 17.3 million to 11.5 million. National leagues would continue in both countries underneath the BeNeLiga, with the champions promoted to the combined league. Going in the other direction would be the worst-placed Belgian and Dutch sides, providing they finish in the bottom five positions of the BeNeLiga. So, a team that finishes 13th would be safe, regardless of nationality.

Among the issues still to be nailed down, however, are which teams would take part in a play-off for the final promotion/relegation place. One scenario is for the teams finishing second to fifth to enter a large play-off with the corresponding teams in the other league and the third- and fourth-worst teams in the BeNeLiga. It is, as Muzio puts it, “a work in progress”.

But you could argue the only bit of Deloitte’s report the likes of Ajax, Anderlecht, Club Brugge, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven really care about is the estimate that a combined league could be worth nearly £350 million a year in broadcast and marketing rights. As of now, the 26 clubs in Belgium’s Division A and Division B share a TV deal worth nearly £90 million a season (although one of the teams is Club Brugge’s reserve side), while the 18 teams in the Netherlands’ Eredivisie split just under £70 million.

Both of these contracts are set to expire in 2025, which has led some to speculate that the stars are coming into alignment for a fresh start, together.

“TV rights are complicated, though,” says Muzio. “You can see that when markets get to a certain size, the rights really ramp up in value — the Turkish league earns about €350 million (£300 million) a season.

“But the figures for a BeNeLiga are all guesswork and the league’s supporters are incentivised to make that a high guess.

“There is a world where a combined league could be a success. If you can combine the leagues to make one that is as good as, let’s say, France, which isn’t impossible, and they could get a TV deal to reflect that, this would make sense for everyone.

“The clubs would have much bigger revenues and you’d have the ability to make parachute and solidarity payments. Some fans will be for it, some against — that’s normal. But enough fans could be in favour. For a smaller team, getting to the BeNeLiga would be exciting.

“But it’s all conjecture at the moment and there’s still a lot of work to do on the proposal. The next step is to speak to UEFA again to see what’s possible.”

So we did.

“UEFA is aware that in some countries strategic projects are considering the possibility of forming regional leagues,” a spokesperson explains. “UEFA has consistently maintained that any such project consensually submitted by all concerned national associations would be discussed with them in order to evaluate its feasibility having regard to all possible implications.”

Not a no, then.

But what do clubs north of the border think?

“There are lots of questions that still need answers and I don’t think it will be easy,” says Stan Valckx, sporting director at Eredivisie side VVV-Venlo, one of the Eredivisie’s minnows.

“How will you divide the European tickets between the two countries? And in Holland, you need five-sixths of the clubs to agree to a change — 15 out of 18. If we voted now I think it would be four or five in favour, the rest against.

“The big clubs will keep looking at it — we know they like the idea — but I can’t see them getting the votes. Maybe the rest of us would get some financial compensation but the current league is working well for us. OK, not now with the virus, but the stadiums are full in normal times and we get to play Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord. A combined league would disadvantage us, financially and on the pitch.”

Paul Conway is a co-owner of Pacific Media Group, a US-based firm that already owns clubs in Belgium, Denmark, England, France and Switzerland, and is looking for teams in need of fresh investment and new ideas in other countries, too.

“Cross-border leagues make sense in certain situations,” says Conway, whose Belgian club is KV Oostende, currently fourth in Division A, one place above mighty Anderlecht. “A Scandinavian League or maybe a Nordic League, with the big Scottish clubs involved, might work. But I’m not sure combining the Belgian and Dutch leagues moves the needle much.

“We’ve seen this movie before. Owners rushing towards something they think will make them rich. The idea the combined TV deal will be better than the existing national deals — that one plus one will equal three or four — is a big guess.

“Is the rest of the world clamouring to watch a Dutch/Belgian league? No. Could the leagues market themselves better? Yes.

“There’s also an element of the Belgian clubs trying to go to a party they’ve not been invited to — I don’t think there’s a big desire for this in the Netherlands.

“But even from the Belgian point of view, I’m not sure this makes sense. Belgium are FIFA’s top-ranked nation and Holland are 14th. I’ll give you another metric. Over the last 10 years, Belgian players have scored 524 goals in the Premier League. Dutch players have scored 273. Why would Belgium accept fewer places?”

Player-trading — finding and developing young talent and selling it on for a profit — is crucial to the Pacific Media Group business model and Conway believes it is a revenue stream the Deloitte study has underplayed.

“Transfer revenue is worth more than TV cash for lots of clubs,” he explains. “For the 10 clubs not invited to play in this league, that income will go down significantly because visibility has been reduced. There are 527 players in Division A but if you took the bottom 10 out, that falls to 234.

“The Belgian league is also much more competitive than the Dutch league. There are a lot of poor teams in the Netherlands but in Belgium, Club Brugge aside this season, anyone can beat anyone.”

For what it is worth, the official line on the BeNeLiga proposal from the Belgian Pro League is that it is based on the desire to balance the big clubs’ “sporting ambitions” with the other clubs’ “need for economic stability”.

A noble goal but media rights expert Yannick Ramcke believes there is a high degree of optimism that underpins the plan.

“Domestically, I don’t see much upside — it’s an international play, primarily,” says Ramcke, the co-host of The Bundle podcast. “But the reality is that nothing outside of the ‘big five’ leagues matters much outside their home markets, and even within the ‘big five’, there are huge differences in terms of international interest between the Premier League, Bundesliga and so on.

“I don’t think things will change for the Belgians or Dutch in this regard — a joint league won’t make them matter.”

This tallies with Conway’s view, of course, but the American is far more bullish about a cross-border concept closer to home — the one Infantino likes, too.

“A combined in US/Mexico league makes a lot of sense to me,” says Conway. “Their TV deals are pretty terrible for such huge markets — MLS teams get about $5 million (£3.6 million) a season from their TV deal, it’s one of the reasons they’re all losing so much money — and a combined league could be fantastic for talent development.”

In fact, the best TV audiences that most MLS teams get are when they play Liga MX sides in the CONCACAF Champions League or the two new, cross-border cup competitions that have emerged from North America’s successful joint bid for the 2026 World Cup: the Campeones Cup and Leagues Cup. The former is a one-off game between the winners of the MLS Cup and Mexico’s Campeon de Campeones, and the latter is an eight-team knockout, four sides from the MLS, four from Mexico.

CONCACAF, the governing body for football in North and Central America, has noticed the appetite for more international club competition, too. From 2023, its Champions League tournament will change from a 16-team knockout to a 50-team extravaganza, consisting of 10 five-team groups, four from North America, four from Central America and two from the Caribbean.

Could this satisfy those wanting to cross the Mexican border more regularly, or at least scratch that itch until after 2026 when everyone can take stock of the state of soccer in North America?

In many ways, the BeNeLiga and North American situations are reversed, in that Belgium and the Netherlands could combine quite easily, but what’s the point? There are potentially billions of points as to why football in Canada, Mexico and the US should get together, but how do you do it?

“A US/Mexico cross-border league is a whole different conversation,” says Jordan Gardner, a California-based investor who co-owns Denmark’s Helsingor, Ireland’s Dundalk and cross-border league specialists Swansea City.

“MLS is a single entity that owns all the clubs and has a centralised TV deal. Liga MX clubs are independently-owned and have a decentralised TV rights structure. Liga MX has promotion and relegation, although they’ve suspended it because of the pandemic’s impact, and MLS does not.

“It’s exciting to talk about these cross-border leagues but I do not see them happening anytime soon.”

Of course, it would be impossible for a British-based journalist to write about cross-border leagues without mentioning the prospect of Celtic and Rangers (or any other Scottish side that fancied it) joining Swansea, Cardiff City, Newport County and Wrexham in the English leagues.

OK, mentioned it now — no need to dwell on the topic, as this is no more likely to happen now than at any other point in the last 30 years. It might make perfect economic sense to the Glasgow giants but the politics — football and national — are against them.

It would also require 14 members of Premier League to vote in favour of letting them in, which would be 14 clubs asking for the number of available places in the Premier League to be reduced by 10 per cent.

More likely, on the other hand, is Lucid’s attempt to bring the two halves of Ireland together in one league, although the latest proposal on the table is more complicated than the new CONCACAF Champions League format, which is saying something.

Lucid initially tried to persuade the 10 clubs in the Republic of Ireland’s Premier Division and the 12 clubs in Northern Ireland’s Premiership to “go the whole hog” and form one league, but not every club north of the border was convinced and the Irish Football Association (IFA), Northern Ireland’s national governing body, was strongly opposed to the idea.

Lucid was not deterred, though. At the end of 2019, he brought in a Dutch consultancy firm called Hypercube to work up some alternative cross-border formats and put together an All-Island League Advocacy Group, including ex-Ireland manager Brian Kerr and former English Football Association chief executive Alex Horne, to lead the lobbying effort.

Last summer, all 10 teams in the Republic and 10 out of 12 in the north signed letters to their respective federations asking them to submit a proposal to UEFA for a cross-border league.

Hypercube ran the numbers on six options — the status quo, the status quo with better infrastructure, a split season, a split season plus knockout, an All-Island League Cup (with halfway split) and a full All-Island League — and the clubs chose No 4, the split season plus knockout format.

What’s that, then?

Well, first of all, the League of Ireland Premier Division would expand from 10 teams to 12, to match the north’s Premiership. Then, the teams in each division would play each other, as normal, home and away, to create two tables based on 22 games each. This is when it gets complicated.

The top six from the north and the top eight from the south would then combine to form a cross-border league (the King of the Island table below). They would play 13 games each, which means an uneven number of home and away games, and the points they earn in these games would count in their national leagues (IFA Golden Round and FAI Golden Round) and the new cross-border league. This is how Hypercube has solved the “European tickets” issue, as they will be rewarded to the top three teams in the domestic leagues (the same number they each currently receive).

Still with me?

OK, the teams that finish fifth to 10th in the cross-border league would then proceed to a knockout round (shown below) where they would meet the four best teams (clubs 11-14), two from each league, that missed the cut for the cross-border league. The winners of those games would then play the teams that finish first to fourth in the cross-border league for a quarter-final knockout competition to crown the King of the Island.

“The IFA is still cold on the idea but there were some suggestions it might be warming to it,” says Lucid. “Then COVID-19 hit and that shut down the debate while the clubs concentrated on survival.

“But there is a chance that this shock could be what forces Irish football, on both sides of the border, out of its comfort zone. The powers that be here are very conservative.

“We’re also reasonably optimistic that UEFA is coming around to the idea that some consolidation is inevitable and for the best. The Balkanization of European football has not helped the game. There are 55 members of UEFA but half of them are dependent on handouts.”

This is a good point, particularly now after the pandemic has hit everyone’s finances, including UEFA’s. Any idea that might help clubs and leagues stand on their own two feet should get a better hearing from European football’s leaders than ever before.

Infantino has clearly heard enough. Providing everyone else is in agreement — which rules out football’s most controversial possible cross-border league, a European Super League — FIFA will not veto a union.

So, who will be first to take the plunge?

Belgium and Netherlands have actually already tried a cross-border league, the women’s BeNe League. Unfortunately, it failed to deliver the exponential commercial growth promised and folded in 2015 after three seasons. Will that make the men twice shy?

Infantino is keen to press on with his African Super League dream and he now has a close ally at the helm of the African football confederation (CAF), South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe, who just so happens to own South Africa’s best team.

Seasoned observers of African football politics believe Motsepe’s recent election to the CAF presidency, his support for Infantino’s plan to create a showcase for the continent’s best teams, and his ownership of one of those sides are not unrelated.

Putting those strands together is the easy bit, though, as nobody seems to have the first clue how you would choose the 20 or so teams that would play in this closed shop from Africa’s 56 countries, particularly when you consider the fact that you could easily fill half the places with teams from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

But what’s the alternative? Do nothing? Leave things be? Stay local?

That seems increasingly unlikely in a growing number of places.

 

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