There are many problems in European football. These range from the broad gulf between the richest clubs and everyone else, to the heavy fixture congestion, to the fact that Michel Platini won’t give back that watch. Dude, seriously. It’s not okay when Sepp Blatter does it, so why is it okay when you do it?
Anyway, we here at GoobNet would love to help Europe fix its football. But Edvard’s campaign for the FIFA presidency was unsuccessful. So instead, we will simply help them add promotion and relegation.
“But wait,” we hear you say. “European football already has promotion and relegation. Don’t you know that? The fact that you don’t seem to know that makes me lose all my confidence in you.”
Wait, so you had confidence in us previously? Wow. Thanks. That was probably a miscalculation on your part, but still, thanks.
Anyway, yes, individual nations within Europe have promotion and relegation. But Europe itself does not have it.
That is, Europe itself did not have it until the GoobNet Agency for Reintroducing Relegation to Recreational Game Hierarchies added it. The agency’s approaches have been successful many times previously, including in MLS, the NBA, the NHL, and collegiate American football.
We now turn our attention toward European football, where there are currently two competitions that UEFA organises for clubs: the Champions League and the Europa League. The problem, of course, is that these are cup competitions, not leagues. Not only that, most of the teams in the Champions League were not in fact champions of their respective countries. Once we recognised this, our course of action became clear.
We also drew inspiration from the football pyramids that exist in most European countries, where there are one or more nationwide divisions at the top, supported by regional leagues below that. We have decided to take this concept one step further by adding an apex that caps all leagues in UEFA.
So, with our help, UEFA will finally have a Champions League that is truly a league made up of champions.
Under the GoobNet Agency for Reintroducing Relegation to Recreational Game Hierarchies’ plan, this is a transitional season played under the current rules.
When the season completes, we will give 55 clubs the opportunity to participate in the new Champions League: the winner of the Champions League, the champions of the 53 top flight domestic leagues, and the winner of the Liechtenstein Cup [because Liechtenstein does not have a domestic league].
At the start of the season, in place of the existing UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds, we will hold seven playoff serieses. Each series will be between the champion of one of the countries ranked 41-47 in the UEFA coefficients as of the 2013-4 season [Lithuania, Macedonia FYR, Ireland Rep, Luxembourg, Malta, Liechtenstein, and Northern Ireland] and the champion of one of the countries ranked 48-54 [Wales, Armenia, Estonia, Faroe Is, San Marino, Andorra, Gibraltar]. Each series will be played over two legs.
The seven winners of these playoff serieses will join the Champions League title holder and the champions of the top 40 countries. [Should the title holder also win its domestic league, the 41st and 42nd countries’ champions will qualify automatically, and the playoffs will be between the countries ranked 43-48 and 49-54.] These 48 clubs will compete in the inaugural UEFA Actual Champions League.
Because the Actual Champions League is an actual league made up of actual champions, the clubs that qualify for the Actual Champions League do not participate in their domestic leagues. From this point forward, these clubs’ league is the Actual Champions League. Each club remains a member of this league until it is relegated, at which point it rejoins its domestic league.
The Actual Champions League is divided into four groups of 12 teams each, on a regional basis. For instance, one region might be made up of western Mediterranean and surrounding nations like Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and Switzerland, one might be made up of northern European and Scandinavian nations, one might be made up of central European nations, and one might be made up of eastern European nations. This helps reduce travel for the participating clubs.
Each team plays the other teams in its group twice, once at home and once away, for a total of 22 matches. The top four teams in each group advance to the playoffs, which are played much like the elimination phase of the current Champions League. The difference is that instead of random draws, the pairings are decided by seeding. The first placed teams in each group are given the first through fourth seeds in order of total points. The second placed teams are seeded fifth through eighth, the third placed teams ninth through twelfth, and the fourth placed teams thirteenth through sixteenth. They then play a standard elimination tournament. Each tie is played over two legs, except for the final, which is a single match played at a preselected venue.
During the season, teams may also participate in their countries’ respective cup competitions if they so choose.
At the end of the season, the champion of the Actual Champions League qualifies automatically for next season’s competition. The other 47 teams must defend their places.
The champions of the previous season’s domestic leagues enter the preseason playoffs for promotion to the Actual Champions League, which are played over two rounds. First, as in 2015-6, the champions of the countries ranked 41-47 play off against the champions of the countries ranked 48-54. The champions of the top 40 countries receive byes in this round.
The second round pits each of the remaining 47 domestic champions against the 47 teams that participated in the previous season’s Actual Champions League but didn’t win it. The teams are seeded, so that the champions from the highest ranked countries in the UEFA coefficients play off against the teams that did the worst in the previous season’s Actual Champions League, and vice versa. Pairings between teams from the same country are permitted.
The winners of these 47 serieses join the defending champion in the Actual Champions League, and the losers rejoin their respective domestic leagues. As teams are promoted into and relegated from the Actual Champions League, teams may be moved between groups as necessary, taking geographic and sporting considerations into account.
Over time, therefore, the membership of the Actual Champions League can change dramatically, as can its distribution across countries. In the 2015-6 season, only one country [the one that the Champions League title holder represents] can have two clubs in the Actual Champions League. Each new season gives each country the opportunity to add a club to the Actual Champions League, so if the existing clubs continue to retain their places [either by winning their playoffs or by winning the title outright], a country could see its share of the Actual Champions League membership increase over time.
So as you can see, the Actual Champions League provides a much more sensible way to approach European football. It is, at its core, simply an extension of the existing paradigm of promotion to higher leagues with broader geographic scope. Furthermore, it upholds the existing prestige on the domestic leagues, since the only way to qualify for the Actual Champions League is by winning a domestic title.
What is more, this concept is not specific to European football. Such an approach could also be used in South America to form a Liga Libertadores, on any other continent, or even in a smaller region like Southeast Asia. Indeed, each region within Asia could form its own Actual Champions League, with promotion to a pan-Asian Actual Champions League. Over time, we could even see a Global Actual Champions League.
But as usual, UEFA will not be permitted to attach the name of a sponsor to the Actual Champions League’s title.
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