Manchester City and European Soccer Arrive at a Moment of Reckoning

Both a proposal to alter the Champions League and the news that Manchester City could be barred from playing in it were stories about the same thing: power, and who holds it.

Comments: 16

  1. Money aside for a second, a true European Champions League must take in Champions from all leagues or it is not legitimate and will lose support across the board. The ‘people’ who are behind this are autocrats in their day jobs as Sovereign Wealth Fund advisors and Hedge Fund managers. They have zero interest in any representative model of anything. It’s all about locking up assets at the top and squeezing out every other player.

  2. I shall never recognize MC as true champions. Sure, on official records, point accrued, wins and losses, they won the league title - but it's a tainted victory. A victory made possible by a brazen violation of FPP rules - in other words. MC cheated and bribed its way to the top. The extreme outspending, including stacking its roster with elite players (paying them millions to sit on the bench, not only as back-up but also depriving other teams of potential talent - it's the same tactic used by Chelsea with its oodles of robber-baron loot), has completely skewed the market. The extreme outspending has created an unsustainable situation where average or squad players are priced at tens of millions leaving most other teams scrambling for talent. And it's just a very few (PSG, MC), fueled by petro-dollars of oil sheikhdoms looking to launder and sportwash their sins, who have created this out-of-control monster. Football as we once we knew it no longer exists . . . you can buy championships - but you can never buy class.

  3. @PS It is possible to believe that MC cheated and outspent and are owned and operated by a terrible group of people, and at the same time, also believe that they play an amazing, beautiful, tactical, and brutally effective brand of football the likes of which England has never seen (and may never see again). As a fan of the game, the question is: which means more to you? The second half of the Tottenham game and Kompany's goal make this a very difficult question to answer.

  4. @PS There’s always MLS if you want to enjoy “classy” football.

  5. @PS United spent more. Sour grapes!

  6. Champions League loses much of its appeal if it becomes a group of teams who primarily play each other. Like, waiting for the big upset by teams from leagues currently a cut below the richest. Ajax's run was great for the tournament this year, so are wins by clubs from eastern Europe, the Swiss or any French team besides PSG. I love getting to see teams from different leagues, different styles of play come together. And I don't think it can be overstated, there is importance in getting to watch two talented teams play each other that don't regularly compete. That anyone watches the Europa League at all demonstrates all of these points. Winning that trophy has to be bittersweet for any of Europe's largest clubs, but the games can be great and the tournament creates great match ups. Playing primarily in a Champions League and leaving a domestic league also eliminates the balancing of priorities between league games, the CL and cup ties. I enjoy that, the different lineups, seeing how managers mitigate the many games. I would like to see some sort of controls placed on the expenditures to help balance most of the domestic leagues. City should not be able to have a PFA player of the year as a substitute who really doesn't play very much. Chelsea shouldn't have seemingly 3 or 4 players loaned out to every other club in Europe. Bayern, Juve, Barca, Real, PSG shouldn't be light years ahead of their competition. Arsenal and United just shouldn't be allowed to waste money... :-)

  7. Absolutely brilliant a club with so much money and spending should be banned from all football. Says who a Liverpool fan probably following SOCCER from 1990 and waiting for a title to go merseyside... start walking [email protected]

  8. @Uday Your argument is pure logical fallacy. Manchester City isn't just spending money; they are clearly violating the rules and then LYING to investigators about it. It cannot be tolerated and they must be banned.

  9. The most important argument is missing in this piece. The big clubs are welcome to create a superleague of their own. In this case, of course, they need to be removed from their domestic leagues though. This way the domestic leagues would once again become far more levelled and thus more interesting. However, the big clubs know their fans would never put up with this. So, of course, they want to have the cake and eat it too.

  10. I realize the article is about the power struggle in European football, but the proposed new Champions League format and the fair-play financial rules are totally separate issues. American sports leagues maintain team salary caps for the purpose of competitive balance, and it makes sense that Europe should also look to maintain competitive balance and try to minimize the influence of dirty money on the sport. As for the new format, it's rubbish. Clubs should always have to earn their way into Champions League; furthermore CL should always desire the best clubs to participate. Why would they want to be locked into specific clubs if those clubs should suddenly fall into mediocrity?

  11. @Chris I guess the point though is that right now many clubs don't 'earn' their way into the Champions League. An English team looking to finish in the top 4 and qualify for the CL needs a herculean effort and a huge amount of money. Just a few miles north of the border Celtic qualify every single year by winning the Scottish league without really trying. They then inevitably get dumped out of the CL at the earliest opportunity. There's something to be said for the fact that the group stage includes so many teams that are so much weaker than the rest that the whole process feels like a waste of time.

  12. The proposed new Champions League format is a bad idea. The whole point of the Champions League is to be the best of the best of European football at any given time. Making membership permanent would defeat the whole purpose.

  13. Rory Smith and his weekly negative article on European soccer Try reading the BBC football section to live through the excitement of an amazing Premier League and Champions League...the best seasons ever of both And still one more match to go - Liverpool versus Spurs in the CL final. Even as a Manchester United fan, I’m excited for this game

  14. A Champions League with clubs from what, 8 countries, don't call it European! Don't even call it a super League! Call it a Rich Clubs League and switch off your tvs and phones! A real European Champions league welcomes clubs from all over Europe, duh! Just look at the finalists or winners since 1956, when Real Madrid beat Reims. Who? Reims, a team stuck right now in the middle of French Ligue 1. How about Steaua București of Roumania vs Milan, in front of... 97,000 spectators at Nou Camp, the record to this day? And the famed Leeds United, founded one hundred years ago, scrambling these days to get back into the Premier League after years in purgatory... Or Saint-Etienne (full disclosure, it's my team!), also founded a century ago, fighting desperately to get the last Champions League spot for France this year...And Malmo of Sweden? Fiorentina of Italy? All these glorious successful clubs would be sentenced to permanent second class status? Absurd! I'm ready for a boycott!

  15. As a Manchster City fan - I fully support MCFC being punished for any breach of FFP or any rule of Association Football. That would be necessary and a healthy, necessary signal. Whilst Mr. Rory Smith quickly pivots away from 'leaking' (article written in NYT on Monday by his colleague Tariq Panja) - is the investigative journalism of Der Spiegel, and NYT valuable and objective? As a funder and supporter of investigative journalism I think the answer is yes. If the Club or any protaganist is innocent - their case will stand in a robust investigation. If Der Spiegel and The Times have: “misrepresented by individuals intent on damaging the club’s reputation and its commercial interests. Or both.” then these papers can answer their case. I add this - note that whilst MCFC buys expensive players - they are not buying the Messi, Ronaldo, Griezmann, Suarez, Naymar, Bale, Coutinho et al blockbuster - pound for pound Man City are ~50% below these prices. On League structures - I say keep as is. Whilst I say competitive intensity matters (the epl is statified as top 6, middle 8, bottom 6) there is super competive intensity within these bands. Relegation and promotion is healthy. Leciester show the beauty of the dream. So do Spurs (no purchases), so do Wolves, and Burnley. Man Utd - the great commercial success have become football impoverished. Punchline: money only matters so much. Also the fortunes of Clubs change quickly in both directions - a function of decisions...

  16. Focusing on the proposed Champions League changes, there are many issues that should concern all soccer enthusiasts, including fans of the supposed super clubs. Starting with the viewpoint of the super clubs, while these teams would likely receive larger TV revenue due to the grandeur of each match being played, fans would likely experience a higher percentage of losses, as (using the Premier League as an example) Manchester City comprehensively defeat established teams such as Bournemouth and Southampton regularly, but will find it much more difficult to be as dominant in a league of only teams at or around their financial and playing strength. This would surely make being a fan of these clubs more challenging, as any Manchester United fan who has experienced recent decline could attest to. Furthermore, clubs such as Liverpool, whose local rival Everton would likely be excluded from a European Super League, would miss out on a fixture which twice a year is one of the most anticipated and meaningful games in the country. As for the teams outside of the proposed Super League, while the league would likely become more competitive, (again using the PL as an example) there is still a tier system beyond the "Top 6" where teams such as Everton, Wolves, and Leicester would likely become the next group of super teams to share league glory, while less financially backed clubs such as Brighton and Burnley would at best challenge for mid-table finishes.