Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Champions League format

+ UEFA double standards and Newcastle United profits.

1) Champions League changes

When discussions about changes to the format of the Champions League format were held earlier this year, some of the big clubs were reportedly in favour of automatic qualification.  To support this argument Charlie Stillitano, co-founder of the International Champions Cup was quoted as saying...

"What would Manchester United argue?  Did we create soccer* or did Leicester create (it)?"

* #USASoccerguy #awesome

It's a stupid quote, because obviously the history of football is far bigger than any one club, not to mention the fact that neither Man United nor Leicester were part of the original line-up for the Football League back in 1888-89 which was won by Preston North End.

To be fair, Stillitano has since claimed, "I think, honestly, that was misquoted," but whatever the truth of the matter he's recently clarified his position with the following statement...

"They are maybe the (best) sports story ever. If they win the Premier League this year, I cannot think of any accomplishment bigger than what they're doing."

Personally, I feel if the big clubs were given automatic qualification that would lessen the excitement of the battle for the Champions League places, and take away some of the the magic of football.

If you want a place in the Champions League, earn it.  And if a so-called big club needs the safety net of automatic qualification, then they're obviously not as good as they think they are.

2) UEFA hypocrisy

The 'Panama papers' have revealed that when at UEFA, FIFA president Gianni Infantino co-signed a television rights deal with two businessmen who have since been accused of bribery by the FBI.  To clarify, its the two businessman who have been accused of bribery, not Infantino, but the story highlighted an interesting fact regarding the original television rights deal...

UEFA signed a deal to sell the Champions League TV rights to a third party, and the third party then immediately sold them on for three times the price!

This begs the question, why did UEFA allow the TV rights to be sold so cheaply?  If we accept that there was no integrity issue, then this suggests a lack of competence.  Why aren't UEFA getting value for money?  Why did they sign a deal selling the Champions League TV rights for a third of their value?

Manchester City fans and PSG fans might also be annoyed at what appears to be a case of double standards.  Why have clubs such as Manchester City and PSG been punished for signing sponsorship deals which allegedly don't reflect market value, when it's now become apparent that the same accusation can be thrown at UEFA. #DoubleStandards #OneRuleForOne

Of course, the key difference is that Manchester City and PSG signed deals which brought extra millions into the game, whereas UEFA signed a deal which undersold true market value, thereby allowing money to leak out of the game.

But the point remains that when clubs are being punished for signing deals which don't reflect market value, surely the rule makers should follow the same rules.

3) The cost of short term profits

This week Newcastle United announced profits after tax for 2014/15 of £32.4 million, an increase of £13.7 million increase on 2013/14.  The accounts also reveal that this is almost the exact figure which has been cut off the wage bill, namely 13 million.

At a time when the Premier League has announced an improved £5.1 billion TV deal, the already massive financial rewards on offer for Premiership clubs will be increasing even more, and it seems laughable that a club would choose to reduce its wage bill.  How does Mike Ashley expect to compete with other Premier League clubs, all of which are seeing dramatically increasing income, when he decides to significantly cut the wage bill? #Clueless

As a Newcastle fan I hope I'm wrong, but the obvious answer is that thanks to his mismanagement, next season he quite probably won't have to worry about competing with Premier League clubs.

Given Mike Ashley's bizarre idea of what it takes to achieve success, it's no surprise that Newcastle are now as short as 1/9 to get relegated with some bookmakers.  So congratulations, Mike, you saved £13 million pounds in wages, but it looks like it could potentially cost you ten times that amount in lost revenue. #ShortSighted #BllueprintOnHowNotToRunAFootballClub

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