Football’s Sense Of Entitlement Is Ruining The Magic Of The Game

European Super League? Champions League reform? All ways to make the big bigger, and spoil it for everyone else.

This Premier League season has been, without a doubt, the most entertaining in years. On the surface, Leicester City, a team who finished 14th last season sit top of the pile with their closest rivals 5 points adrift. And who is that rival clinging to the coattails of Mahrez and Vardy led Leicester? City? United? Arsenal? Chelsea? A look down the table with seven games to go sees only 2 of the aforementioned big four in the Champions League spots. Manchester United are fighting it out with West Ham for a Europa League place and Chelsea, despite their recent resergence, are clinging onto a top 10 position by a 2 point lead over West Brom. Tottenham Hotspur, a team that any other season a nation of neutrals would love to win the league, will be seen as party poopers, enemies of football, should they userp Leicester’s title bid from their current position in second.

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy celebrates one of his many goals this season

The Foxes and Spurs are by no means here by way of luck (as Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew would have you believe if his program notes from the weekend are anything to go by). They have earned their position through hard work and more importantly consistency. The latter of which seems totally bereft of the rest of the league, bar being consistently inconsistent.

An equally astonishing and heartwarming football story is also bubbling away further down the table as either Leicester or Spurs look to become the sixth team in Premier League history to lift the trophy. AFC Bournmouth two weeks ago reached the fabled 38 point tally, 7 seasons after they were at the foot of the entire Football League in League 2 fighting for survival and against bankruptcy. Eddie Howe’s phenomenal story with The Cherries could only be overshadowed by that of Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester should they win the league. Who’s the enemy of football now, Claudio?

Bournmouth’s Eddie Howe

But what is all the hard work and what are all the warmed hearts for if there is no end game? What is being discussed currently in the UEFA offices is transforming the Champions League group stage into 2 mini leagues in order avoid the world’s Super Clubs drawing less desirable teams in a congested group stage.

Jamie Jackson’s excellent piece on this in The Guardian state’s

An example cited during discussions with Uefa came in 2008-09 when Real Madrid were drawn in a group that included Bate Borisov. The ties between the two sides attracted low viewing figures and there is a firm desire to avoid repeats in the future by having more high-profile games, generating a bigger income.
Bate Borisov take on Real Madrid in 08/09 Champions League

From a commercial standpoint, yes, I can understand this. But, what of the Bate Borisov fans, and even players who got to witness or be part of history playing the Galacticos?

Further still, after a meeting with the Premier League’s big five of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, preseason tournament organiser Relevent Sports’ chairman Charlie Stillitano has spoken of the change. He has suggested that it might be a step towards closing off the Champions League, after teams were forced to deny plans of a separate breakaway European Super League following the meeting with Stillitano.

“What would Manchester United argue: did we create soccer or did Leicester create [it]?” “Let’s call it the money pot created by soccer and the fandom around the world. Who has had more of an integral role, Manchester United or Leicester? It’s a wonderful, wonderful story – but you could see it from Manchester United’s point of view, too.”

So what does this mean for Leicester? Football is a sport, above all else. You win the game or you lose the game. These talks of European Super Leagues and restructured Champions Leagues reek of the boy taking his ball away when he starts losing. You reap what you sow in football and if you cannot perform on the league stage you should not be going to the European dance.

Southampton’s Charlie Austin wheels away after heading past David de Gea to beat United 1–0 this season

Equally, teams who achieve success in lesser leagues across Europe should also have the opportunity to dance, so to speak. Why can’t we have our Leicesters and Bournmouths shaking things up? Why can’t they build on their success and have a go at becoming a super power? And why are Bate Borisov not afforded the same courtesy? Do we want these stories in the future on the largest scale? Of course we do. Otherwise we might as well book in the final of next year’s Champions League of Bayern Munich vs Barcelona without kicking a ball. How far does it go?

The beauty of sport is in achievement and overcoming. Why reserve this for the regulars? Why can’t the apple cart be rocked? It’s more fun when it’s rocked! If Leicester win the Premier League this season it will be the the first time in their history they have won England’s top division, a huge achievement in our now money driven Premier League. Could this be beaten on the European stage in the future?

Here’s hoping.