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July 11th, 2003

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07:20 pm - European club football
daweaver just made an excellent post about the histories of the international European club football competitions. Highly recommended for sports organisation geeks.

This reminds me that I once devised an alternate way to organise European international club football competitions. It is of the most passing theoretical interest only. However, my LJ is an ideal repository for whimsies like this; if I can get this down from paper into digits then I can recycle the sheet of paper without worrying about losing the information. It's not intended to be at all serious, by the way.

52 nations in Europe submit teams to the unified European football competition. These nations are ordered by the UEFA Ranking List. The top four nations each submit seven teams, drawn from a mixture of cup competition winners and domestic league leaders. (Total: 28). The second four nations each submit six teams. (Running total: 52). Nations 9 to 12 each submit five teams. (Running total: 72.) Nations 13 to 20 each submit four teams. (Running total: 104.) Nations 21 to 32 each submit three teams. (Running total: 140.) Nations 33 to 52 each submit two teams. Total: 180.

Stage one: allocation of teams to divisions. This is a four-phase stage.

Phase one: the champions of the top 24 nations play against each other. This generates 12 winners who play in the Top Division. The 12 losers advance to phase two.

Phase two: 12 from phase one are accompanied by the 12 second-place and 12 third-place finishers from the top 12 nations and the 12 champions of nations 25 to 36 for a total of 48 teams. This generates 24 winners who play in the Second Division. The 24 losers advance to phase three.

Phase three: 24 from phase two are accompanied by 16 champions from nations 37 to 52, 40 second-place finishers from nations 13 to 52, 10 third-place finishers from nations 13 to 22 and 6 fourth-place finishers from nations 1 to 6 for a total of 96 teams. This generates 48 winners who play in the Third Division. The 48 losers advance to phase four.

Phase four: 48 from phase three are accompanied by 10 third-place finishers from nations 23 to 32, 14 fourth-place finishers from nations 7 to 20, 12 fifth-place finishers from nations 1 to 12, 8 sixth-place finishers from nations 1 to 8 and 4 seventh-place finishers from nations 1 to 4 for a total of 96 teams. This generates 48 winners who play in the Fourth Division. The 48 losers play in the Fifth Division.

Stage two: within each division, teams are allocated to parallel leagues of six. There are two such leagues in the first division, four in the second division and eight in each of the three lower divisions.

Teams in each league play each other home and away for a total of ten matches.

Stage three: the winners of each league (and, for the top two divisions, the second-place finishers in each league) enter into a single-elimination knockout competition to determine the champion of each division.

jiggery_pokery clone #14 will have the job of working out what a typical European football season might look like under such a proposal. The other clones will all have more important jobs to do.
Current Mood: geekygeeky

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Date:July 12th, 2003 02:25 am (UTC)

Pass me my anorak

Not particularly sure this one would be at all popular.

The schedule would look something like this:

Mid Aug: Div 1 qualification. Single qualification, so someone will have a huge home advantage.
Late Aug: Div 2 qualification.
Mid Sep: Div 3 qualification. Div 1 & 2 start playing.
Late Sep: Div 4 & 5 qualification.

Oct - Dec: 4 matches in Div 1, 6 in others
Feb: 2 matches in all divisions.
Mar: Round of 16 in Div 2, last divisional matches elsewhere.

Late Mar - mid Apr: Round of 8 in all divisions.
Late Apr - early May: Round of 4 in all divisions.
Mid - late May: all finals.

It's not particularly elegant, but it's no worse than this season's mess.

Some major problems:

1) It fails the Drunken Belgian test. No one is going to understand what the hell is going on after two pints. "Antwerp against Dinamo Bikelite in Division 4C tomorrow. Is that better or worse than Bruges against Sporting Dijon in 3F tonight?" And if drunken Belgians don't know what's happening, you can bet that the likes of Gary Linneker and KYTV's Martin Brown will be completely confused.

2) Who gets the television rights? Do all five divisions air on ITV? Will Sky be interested in putting out a feed of a dead rubber between CSKA Badscrabblehand and Red Star Cnsnt in Division 5E? Companies will pay top dollar for matches between big clubs, but these matches will be few and far between with this plan.

3) Champion 24 is of the quality of Romania, and their best side will give the best German side a good workout. There's no way that champ 36, such as Lithuania, will give a high-flying English club any sort of opposition. The second and third qualifying rounds will be a bit of a bloodbath.

4) Dead rubbers. With only the best team going through from each group, most teams will be as good as eliminated half way through the contest.

5) It lacks the Wimbledon factor: there's no way for the Andorran cup winners to become the best in Europe.

All that said, the basic idea is a very good one, and there's an alternate idea sounded out (then dismissed) elsewhere.

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