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Europe's Big 5 Leagues Warned About Dominance

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Europe's big five leagues have been warned their growing dominance of the continent's football landscape will not be allowed to continue unchecked.

A two-day meeting of the European Clubs' Association (ECA) in Geneva ended with chairman Andrea Agnelli talking of reforms being in place by 2022, rather than December 2019  as was the case earlier this year.

The abrupt switch of deadlines underlines the lack of progress that has been made by the ECA in talks over generating a wider level of competition, more games and higher income from Europe's three major club competitions, including the new Europa League 2, from 2024.

It is clear the clubs, especially those from second-tier countries such as Holland and Poland, regard the 'big five' - the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 - as being major obstacles to the changes being demanded.

"Uefa distributes money to big, medium and small countries," said Edwin van der Sar, the Ajax chief executive.

"The big five leagues collect money from all over the world and keep it in their own jurisdiction, plus they get solidarity payments from Uefa. This is not sustainable."

It is understood the Premier League's leading clubs - Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United - were all represented at the 169-member gathering in Switzerland and are not the object of the ECA's irritation but the leagues themselves.

"You can easily see who is investing and who is protecting individual interests," said HJK Helsinki chief executive Aki Riihilahti.

Initial proposals for a Champions League containing four groups of eight teams, with 14 games and 20 clubs no longer needing to qualify, have now been dropped.

Agnelli hopes to have an alternative plan ready by next March, which can then be opened up for discussion, with the aim of having a revised format for European football agreed by 2022.

It is likely the same leagues will again be opposed but Agnelli, who is also the chairman of Juventus, made a thinly veiled threat that he was prepared to proceed even if they fail to come on board.

"We will not get beyond an 80% satisfaction rate," he said. "That is the point we get to in order to approve any motion at ECA.

"There are some deadlocks and we must put together the various elements and concerns to find a solution that fits the majority.

"There has to be an answer by 2022 because that is when Uefa go to market for the TV rights from 2024."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/49652966

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I don't understand what they forsee that they can do about the issue.

Clubs work as independent units these days and certain trademarks earn more money through marketing. What do they expect the dominant clubs to do? Share what they earn?

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13 minutes ago, SirBalon said:

I don't understand what they forsee that they can do about the issue.

Clubs work as independent units these days and certain trademarks earn more money through marketing. What do they expect the dominant clubs to do? Share what they earn?

Exactly. If some melon in Helsinki thinks he should be getting a cut of what the clubs in the top 5 leagues should be getting, he’s sadly mistaken. There’s a reason you earn little, it’s because nobody wants to watch you or your product.

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I’m all for a salary cap to be honest. It’s the best solution if you want things to become more competition.

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9 minutes ago, Grizzly21 said:

I’m all for a salary cap to be honest. It’s the best solution if you want things to become more competition.

But that also comes with a catch. Who decides the salary cap? What happens to existing players with exit clauses? How do clubs account for termed compliance when they've already exceeded the cap with their wages? etc. etc. I like the idea and it has a lot of merit because its the start of creating a fair ground for competition to thrive.

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7 minutes ago, Mel81x said:

But that also comes with a catch. Who decides the salary cap? What happens to existing players with exit clauses? How do clubs account for termed compliance when they've already exceeded the cap with their wages? etc. etc. I like the idea and it has a lot of merit because its the start of creating a fair ground for competition to thrive.

Yeah it could well be another VAR situation. It will mean a big change in the game but given who runs the sport it may well not work. I think if UEFA are that bothered though then the best solution is a salary cap.

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There’s a large disparity between the Pot One and Two teams and the Pot Three and Four teams in the Group Stages of the Champions League and it’s growing and growing. It’s now quite a widely held opinion that the Group Stages are dull, which they are and it’s largely as a result of such disparity. 

That said, how do you tell Barcelona, for examples that they’ve got to take a smaller share of the pie or an equal share of the pie as a team from Latvia, Armenia, Wales etc? 

How do you resolve such an issue? Teams won’t accept a smaller share of the pie, nor is that particularly fair either. Let the big conglomerates bugger off to create some European Super Competition? Imagine the opposition from teams in their respective domestic leagues? 

I don’t really know how/if you can resolve this?

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I don’t think any of these clubs are expecting an equal share to what the likes of United or Barce bring in, but how is it a fair competition where certain clubs are able to bring in big finances from all around the world and also their own league but others aren’t? What is the point in having an open competition if the financing of it means it’s essentially a closed competition to the same old clubs bar the odd surprise here and there?

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I do think it would be much better for football if the top five league's dominance was curbed quite a lot, but it's not the fault of the top five leagues that they've made the most of their opportunities throughout footballing history.

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This is a tough nut to crack. MLS has a salary cap for example with teams having 3 exemptions, maybe something like that is more palatable. In the NHL they added a salary cap in the mid 2000's to curb teams out spending each other and it largely worked but the whole league is a much smaller scale making it much easier to do. It did put a much higher emphasis on player development which would be something nice to see in football again. I dont know what the correct answer is here. 

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42 minutes ago, RandoEFC said:

I do think it would be much better for football if the top five league's dominance was curbed quite a lot, but it's not the fault of the top five leagues that they've made the most of their opportunities throughout footballing history.

Not their fault but hardly the fault of other leagues that they don’t have the population/infrastructure/oil money to compete. When the likes of Chelsea and Man City can completely blow a club like Ajax out of the water questions need to be asked

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I honestly think it's all a bit beyond repair now. It's developed into this farcical situation where teams and leagues have monopolised the game and that's irrecoverable bar an implosion.

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5 minutes ago, Danny said:

Not their fault but hardly the fault of other leagues that they don’t have the population/infrastructure/oil money to compete. When the likes of Chelsea and Man City can completely blow a club like Ajax out of the water questions need to be asked

Ajax weren’t bought by billionaires. Question answered. There’s no rules stating billionaires can’t buy clubs elsewhere. They just don’t want to. 

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44 minutes ago, Danny said:

Not their fault but hardly the fault of other leagues that they don’t have the population/infrastructure/oil money to compete. When the likes of Chelsea and Man City can completely blow a club like Ajax out of the water questions need to be asked

Could go further than that. Bournemouth's wage budget is probably more than double Ferencvaros, Steaua Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade all combined.

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4 minutes ago, DeadLinesman said:

There’s no rules stating billionaires can’t buy clubs elsewhere.

Umm yes there kind of are?... Some countries/leagues actually have laws and regulations preventing full private ownership making fan ownership mandatory. Many others prefer their clubs to be majority owned by fans and are unwilling to sell. Argentina, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Turkey being just a few examples. Just because you decided to be sell-outs doesn't mean the rest of the world is the same.

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There are many potential solutions to spread the wealth and glory around but ultimately everyone is too addicted to the spectacle of the Champions League for them to realistically be implemented. Also the big clubs are too rich and powerful for UEFA to control them in any meaningful way.

You could alter the Champions League so only the actual champions enter the competition each year so that the champions of countries like Belgium and Turkey could realistically eye a quarter/semi final run. Good luck getting anyone to support that but it would spread the wealth around the different leagues.

You could ban players moving to foreign leagues before the age of 21 to give clubs from smaller countries a chance of being rewarded on the pitch for investing in their local talent and developing players effectively, or at least getting competitive transfer fees by selling them when they're under a professional contract. This opens itself up to all sorts of trouble though as big clubs from Spain and England try to bend the rules and tap up players from an even younger age to find a loophole.

Basically it would take some sort of radical change to achieve a meaningful redistribution of wealth and it would also take several years for the effects to filter through.

I'm afraid on this one that I have to agree with Dan. The horse has well and truly bolted.

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1 hour ago, DeadLinesman said:

Ajax weren’t bought by billionaires. Question answered. There’s no rules stating billionaires can’t buy clubs elsewhere. They just don’t want to. 

Because the Dutch league isn’t as profitable as the English league...

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A salary cap can't work outside of a tight structure, and the football pyramid is not that. The reason that it works in Americastan is that the MLB/NHL/NFL/NBA is both the governing body and the league. There are a lot of hurdles to jump through, especially when different countries use different currencies, players may form a union that pressures leagues/FAs to reliquish the cap, different levels of spending power, etc. How does a salary cap work for promoted and relegated teams? How does it follow the football pyramid?

For instance in the NHL there are very strict levels of spending, a salary cap and a salary floor. This is to prevent teams from underspending and netting only profits at the detriment of the league; and from overspending with would lead to larger market teams monopolising talent and trophies; to the detriment of the sport in weaker markets. The only way this works is because each team is a franchise that is privately owned but liscenced by the governing body, while the owners of the team can essentially do as they wish they still have to answer to NHL and it's strict rules. It's all done for the benefit of the league as a whole, not for individual teams. It's the same say with McDonalds; a person can purchase and 'own' a franchise of McDonald's but they still have to adhere to it's rules and regulations.

A salary cap is designed to weaken the 'rich' teams and galavanise the 'poor' teams through 'forced parity' but let's say England introduces this method; it would only lead to a market for other leagues to steal talent from the English FA.

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The ‘wild west manifest destiny’ days of the sport are long finished. The teams that captured lightning in a bottle during the proliferation of money and international TV rights are the teams that will remain dominate forever. Look at Manchester United, they aren’t where they are now because they are defined arbitrarily as a ‘big club’ they are where they are now because during the early days of TV rights they were the dominate force due several circumstances at the club, they captured lightning in a bottle and established themselves as THE club in the world, everything lined up perfectly for them. The only way to break this cycle is for clubs to have a third party cash support like Chelsea and Man City.

The worst part of this sport is how once a team ‘starts winning consistently’ they typically keep winning. The story of football isn’t ‘Well this team is coming off a promotion and look dangerous’ it is ‘the champions strengthened and look to repeat’ 

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1 hour ago, nudge said:

Umm yes there kind of are?... Some countries/leagues actually have laws and regulations preventing full private ownership making fan ownership mandatory. Many others prefer their clubs to be majority owned by fans and are unwilling to sell. Argentina, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Turkey being just a few examples. Just because you decided to be sell-outs doesn't mean the rest of the world is the same.

Sellouts? I wish United were! Maybe that way we’d be bankrolled, not be the bankroller 😂. My point being that people often moan that football isn’t a business. Unfortunately that’s just what it is. It’ll never be the same again.

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1 hour ago, Danny said:

Because the Dutch league isn’t as profitable as the English league...

Exactly though. Major business put their hubs in big city’s, not towns and villages. It’s all about the exposure and money available.

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34 minutes ago, DeadLinesman said:

Sellouts? I wish United were! Maybe that way we’d be bankrolled, not be the bankroller 😂. My point being that people often moan that football isn’t a business. Unfortunately that’s just what it is. It’ll never be the same again.

I both agree and disagree. Commercialisation has certainly taken over the sport but the fact that there are plenty of leagues and clubs that are reluctant to follow the same model (even if that means having a huge disadvantage) and even apply specific restrictions to actually prevent that indicates that it's still not seen as business solely - at least not everywhere.
 Of course smaller and more obscure leagues wouldn't be as interesting to potential investors anyway but I'm sure the likes of Ajax would have no trouble finding a billionaire owner if they wanted to sell the club; same with many German clubs. Now don't get me wrong, I agree that it's way too late to change anything and it won't ever be the same but at some point the bubble will burst as there's no way such business model is sustainable in a long term.

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If UEFA's plan is to pay the bigger leagues less, I can't see bigger leagues and their teams getting onboard unless they're given a slightly easier path to make it more worthwhile for them - either in forgoing qualification or higher seeding for the pots. So the side finishing in 4th in England wouldn't have to sweat playing a CL qualification round, or a side that won the CL in England that doesn't finish in the top 4 doesn't have to fuck around with 3 rounds of qualification. And I imagine those leagues would also insist that for the Europa League too, particularly as some clubs are more likely to see the EL as more of an irritation - particularly in the group stages.

And I'm not sure how I feel about that "compromise" and I'm not sure how smaller countries/leagues would feel... as if those places are essentially guaranteed for the big leagues, that's less of a chance for the smaller leagues to actually get to play in Europe.

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3 hours ago, DeadLinesman said:

Exactly though. Major business put their hubs in big city’s, not towns and villages. It’s all about the exposure and money available.

Who gives a shit mate let’s just slot each other one xoxo

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UEFA can't and shouldn't make things easier for any clubs as part of some monetary compensation that would be proper disgusting and totally unnecessary. So what if the top 5 have more money, the tournament doesn't need to cater to them just because of that fact. Infact, if they want to make it more fair I'd reduce the slots for each league in both the CL and the EL and make it three instead of four to increase competitiveness. Right now, if you're sitting in 4th in the PL as a club you're thinking ah its okay when the season ends because we're still getting a chance at the CL. 

Reducing the number of slots also solves the problem of giving other leagues a fair chance but we all know they'll never do that because UEFA doesn't run CL football anymore the TV companies do.

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The huge clubs have done intense individual work over the past decade or so in amplifying and nurturing their brandname. Just take Atlético Madrid for example... Only 10 years ago (maybe a little bit longer) before Diego Simeone returned to the club as a coach (Simeone as a timeline indentifier, not him as the main reason) they were in absolute dire straits financially. They owed money to everyone and everything because they had gone about trying to be competitive in the wrong way for many years by just signing big names and doing very little else.

They then started to copy the model used by the two giants that live in their own region with Barcelona and Real Madrid by doing seemingly costly things like opening academies all over the place from Africa, to India, to Japan and even Pakistan. I've heard they even have academies in far flung places like Tibet and Nepal. They promoted themselves by investing in the brand and coupled with other general factors they now reap the benefits with total stability and seeming hard competitiveness on all fronts.

I've used them as an example because many clubs still think it's only about signing big football status symbols to represent the club on the pitch while in reality that is only a finalising detail that continues the momentum already set by the marketing department on the actual brandname. By only using the recruitment of top footballing talent, the club inevitably ends up in debt in the end and cannot sustain competitiveness in relation to the giants that live within their league. Look at what's happened to Valencia CF in Spain. Mega billionaire personality buys the club, pumps money in like what used to happen over a decade ago to sign big players but nothing is sustainable and without consistent results and the investment of the brand, the hole gets bigger ir remains unfixed.

UEFA needs the big brandname football clubs because it adds prestige and appeal to their prime competition which is the Champions League.

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27 minutes ago, SirBalon said:

The huge clubs have done intense individual work over the past decade or so in amplifying and nurturing their brandname. Just take Atlético Madrid for example... Only 10 years ago (maybe a little bit longer) before Diego Simeone returned to the club as a coach (Simeone as a timeline indentifier, not him as the main reason) they were in absolute dire straits financially. They owed money to everyone and everything because they had gone about trying to be competitive in the wrong way for many years by just signing big names and doing very little else.

They then started to copy the model used by the two giants that live in their own region with Barcelona and Real Madrid by doing seemingly costly things like opening academies all over the place from Africa, to India, to Japan and even Pakistan. I've heard they even have academies in far flung places like Tibet and Nepal. They promoted themselves by investing in the brand and coupled with other general factors they now reap the benefits with total stability and seeming hard competitiveness on all fronts.

I've used them as an example because many clubs still think it's only about signing big football status symbols to represent the club on the pitch while in reality that is only a finalising detail that continues the momentum already set by the marketing department on the actual brandname. By only using the recruitment of top footballing talent, the club inevitably ends up in debt in the end and cannot sustain competitiveness in relation to the giants that live within their league. Look at what's happened to Valencia CF in Spain. Mega billionaire personality buys the club, pumps money in like what used to happen over a decade ago to sign big players but nothing is sustainable and without consistent results and the investment of the brand, the hole gets bigger ir remains unfixed.

UEFA needs the big brandname football clubs because it adds prestige and appeal to their prime competition which is the Champions League.

This is the argument that can also be used for how City have come to dominance in the way they have. Its not just about Abu Dhabi pouring money in its also about how that money has been invested and the work done before trying to make the big signings as well. Granted its a shit way to go about unbalancing competitive fairness but these are more akin to businesses than football clubs these days and there isn't a single one of them that is exempt from this fact.

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I'd say it was more a case of the Premier league taking over everything. I have predicted this for 6/7 years and it's actually happening now. All other leagues have become watered down and have lost prestige like fuck.

Is it really an achievement when Juventus win Serie A? when Bayern win the Bundesliga or when PSG win Ligue 1? These teams are winning their league simply by turning up.

La Liga is also completely losing all its quality at a rapid rate, especially when it comes to attacking quality. There is nothing there anymore and it gets worse. The league as a whole is becoming very defensive, it's starting to lack stars and even some of the better sides in the league like Atletico and Sevilla are devoid of attacking ability.

That is the biggest worry in football and not about 5 leagues being ahead of the rest, as 3 of those leagues are massively watered down shite and one of the others is heading in that direction.

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