Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Modest Proposal To Improve The Champions League

Frog and I had a conversation right at the end of our podcast last night about how to improve the Champions League.

Some people might take issue with the idea that the Champions League even needs improving. I'm sympathetic.

During the group stages, there are always a few interesting games. The Final 16 knock-out rounds are incredible. And the final is a fantastic footballing spectacle that they smartly moved to a weekend day so the whole world could more easily enjoy the match. But as the second half of the group stage matches kick off today, none of the big clubs are under any real threat to not make it through. Most of the "minnows" are anchored firmly at the bottom of the table in their respective groups (sorry for the blurry image, click on it for a full-rez version).

Most of the surprise results have come from smaller clubs parking the bus and frustrating the bigger teams. That's fine from a tactics point of view, but it doesn't exactly lead to a dazzling display of football.

So without further ado, here's my proposal:
Have two separate group sections of the Champions League. One for the big boys, one for the "outsiders". 24 big clubs from big countries (see below for full breakdown) play the group rounds for 12 slots between them. Then, secondary clubs from big nations (4th place in England, etc.), and the winners of the lesser domestic leagues fill a second group of 24 that plays for the final 4 Round of 16 knock-out slots. 6 Group winners, plus 2 "Wild Cards" would advance to a knock-out round of 8 to determine the 4 that would join the final 16 bracket.

This would create more games, more excitement, more competition. It would guarantee outsider clubs at least 4 slots in the knock-out stages.

What do you think?

Breakdown of the 2 brackets, all derived from current UEFA Coefficient Rankings
24 Big Clubs: 3 each from England, Spain & Germany, 2 each from Italy, France & Portugal, 1 each from Russia, Holland, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Denmark, Belgium and Romania (
24 Outsider Clubs: 4th club from England, Spain, Germany, 3rd club from Italy, France, Portugal, 2nd club from Russia, Holland, Ukraine, Turkey, Greece, Denmark, Belgium
1st club from Scotland, Switzerland, Israel, Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia, Norway, Sweden, Belarus, Cyprus

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