UEFA want to introduce a third European club competition from the 2021/22 season? Well isn’t that good news?
The idea is supposedly to give smaller nations more opportunities to play European football. It’s not. Ultimately, as with most schemes dreamt up by UEFA, it’s all about the money.
More European games equals more television revenue equals more money in UEFA’s coffers.
But just how much appetite will there be for a third competition?
As things stand both the Champions League and Europa League both have lengthy preliminary rounds in order to whittle down the teams to 80 across the two competitions.
A third competition would see 16 teams who normally would have headed down the Europa League route placed in the new tournament.
A further 16 sides would more than likely feature the sort of teams who usually struggle to make it out of the preliminary stage in the Europa League.
This season has seen stellar names like Maccabi Tel Aviv, Brondby, Gent and Burnley fail to progress to the Europa League group stage.
Hands up who’d want to watch any of that quartet do battle in a third-rate European competition?
Aside from UEFA looking for yet another way to milk fans for every last penny they can lay their hands on, this new competition smacks of them looking for a way to protect the interests of the bigger clubs.
UEFA already allows clubs who finish third in their Champions League group to drop into the Europa League for the knockout stage. No doubt they’ll come up with a similar crazy plan to do the same with the third competition.
Suddenly clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal, AC Milan and others will have yet another safety net to protect them against failure.
The whole idea further devalues European competition.
Many fans would love to see a return to the days of the European Cup (for champions only), the UEFA Cup (for teams who finish 2nd to 4th in their league) and the Cup Winners’ Cup (for teams who win their main domestic cup competition).
All three competitions worked well under that format, but financial greed ultimately brought about their demise.
A third competition for third-rate teams has zero appeal. Burnley versus Maccabi Tel Aviv on live television? EastEnders’ ratings will go through the roof.