Leicester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City. These are the clubs to enter the Champions League next season, as it stands. Purists and neutrals wouldn’t mind this one bit, but for the millions of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool fans it means they won’t get to see their clubs competing for Europe’s top competition next year. Is that a problem? In the eyes of a certain Charlie Stillitano, it is. The Guardian carried a piece quoting the American sports executive, who has presided over the much talked about International Champions Cup held in pre-seasons.
There are talks of a closed European competition having only the ‘elite clubs’ to cater to their wide fan base and have millions of fans across the globe watch their favourite teams go head to head more often. I would personally, love to see a Manchester United face Real Madrid or Barcelona on a regular basis (albeit some fear), but what worries is me is what it will do to the domestic competitions, especially the premier league. Let’s be honest, there is no league in the world that can match the competitiveness in England. Any team can win a game on a given day and that’s what makes it so exciting, week in, week out. Arsenal, City, United, Spurs, West Ham, Leicester are all fighting out a tantalising battle that doesn’t just add up to first or second place. The stakes are high, the entertainment, bound to be higher. Take this away and the minute a team realises that its fight for a league title is over, the determination will drop, if only a notch. The top 4 fight is as entertaining as winning the league; ask Arsenal fans- it has been that way for the last decade. While Charlie Stillitano states that it is the likes of Manchester United and not Leicester that have made football, the global sport that is, I would like to argue that by monetising the game we are not adding value to it. Instead, we are ruling out stories like Manchester United’s that could go on to really take the world by storm. A closed league would just eliminate the “impossible dreams” and who would like that in sport?