Time for a new ‘Super’ League in European Soccer
Keith R. Thompson
February 16, 2008
The English Premier League’s unveiling of a new proposal to play a 39th game overseas was met with considerable hostility this past week. This was because it would unleash a number of unnecessary precedents within the Soccer world. For starters, many fear that English teams playing a competitive match on foreign soil would do little for the development or promotion of the game in these foreign countries. And, it was felt that adding an extra game to the schedule would create a disparity within the English game as some teams would end up playing a more difficult opponent for their 39th game, whereas others would face a much easier opponent. Evaluating league champions or relegation teams under these scenarios could therefore be significantly hampered, especially during close affairs. But, is there something behind the proposal that may be interesting for the game.
Maybe the English proposal is signaling that it just may be time to unveil a ‘new’ super league in European soccer, where the top teams from each league actually play each other in a home-and-away league competition so that fans across the globe can see just how the best within England would fear against the best of Italy, and Spain, and all the other top leagues in Europe. Yes we already have the Champions League where teams play a home-and-away schedule within the group stages, then a home-and-away knock-out stage. However, how would these teams fare if they had to play an entire season against the very top European teams, similar to their domestic league competitions.
In order to see this come to fruition we are unveiling our own proposal that would transform the current UEFA Champions League and Cup competitions to mimic the domestic leagues in which the top teams play in. We are therefore proposing revising the Champions League from a group then knock-out stage, to a full home-and-away league competition comprising 16 of the top teams from Europe’s top leagues. Next, we propose retooling the UEFA Cup competition to allow all teams that currently qualify for European play via either the Champions League or Cup to compete in the new-look European Cup (again similar to what occurs in domestic competitions). That way the top teams can potentially win two European titles each year, as well as two domestic championships for a potential quadruple instead of the current triple that they chase. Think of the impact on the sport if Barcelona gets to play teams such as AC Milan and Manchester United, and the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, all in the same year. That would be the true test of a European champion.
So, just how would a league like that operate. Well first the European 'Super' league could comprise no more than 16 teams playing a full league schedule in order to not overburden the current team schedules. Second, European league games could be played in mid-week (as is currently the case) so as not to interfere with the weekend domestic schedules. And finally the revamped European Cup knockout competition could be interspersed with the league games throughout the year with teams competing in the new European league exempted until the Fourth round of the competition.
So, what would the playing calendar look like had the new European league and the revamped European Cup been in operation. Below is an illustration of what such a format could look like.
Clearly it is possible to operate a full European league and knockout competitions within the existing 10-month format without interfering with domestic competitions. In addition, teams that need to qualify for those European competitions can do so within the month of July under the current format without much tinkering of the scheduling calendars.
In order to make this proposal work it may also be necessary
for all domestic leagues in Europe to reduce the number of teams
within their leagues to 18, instead of the current 20 for most. That
way it would provide more off-days within the schedule, and
accommodate the International matchdays within the calendar.
In order to make this proposal work it may also be necessary for all domestic leagues in Europe to reduce the number of teams within their leagues to 18, instead of the current 20 for most. That way it would provide more off-days within the schedule, and accommodate the International matchdays within the calendar.
UEFA can establish details as to which 16 teams make it into the exclusive league, and the qualifying format for the new-look European Cup but one thing is clear fans across the globe will be fascinated at the prospects of watching the best teams in Europe matching up against each other on a weekly basis, maybe even more so that simply watching top English teams play one extra game.
Rethinking the Relegation & Promotion
Structure in Europe
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Despite the obvious benefits there are some major drawbacks to this system. What are they and how do we fix them. Read more
-------------------------------------------The best soccer teams in Europe
See March 2008 ranking
See February 2008 ranking
See January 2008 ranking
See December 2007 ranking
-------------------------------------------Top Soccer League in Europe
With the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup group stages just completed it is time to once again ask the all important question, which soccer league in Europe is the toughest league to play in? Read more...