Here’s an interesting idea from UEFA: ban debt-saddled clubs from the Champions League. Do they really have the guts to do it? Not bloody likely, as a pathetic Anglophile (who? me?) might say. While the CL might be more interesting without Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, it would also suffer a catastrophic loss of popularity in the more casual parts* of the global football market. Fact is, fans in North America and Asia just aren’t going to rally to a European final that pits Bayern Munich against Lyon, at least not the way they rally when ManchVegas and Chelski star. Second fact is, from what I understand about football business practices in general, I believe competitions might get rather sparse if you suddenly kicked out every club with less-than-transparent finances.
Still, Platini and Co. are certainly on the right track. The issue highlights one of many fascinating sidelights in Goldblatt’s mammoth history, The Ball is Round: the enduring conflict between UEFA, which is grounded in a very 21st Century, Eurodelic culture of rationality, transparency and reform, and the rest of world football governance, which is grounded in feral capitalism, corruption and self-dealing. Which side do you think will win?
*Channelling David “The Sage of Applebee’s” Brooks