Platini on the money as European Championships expands

In recent weeks, you may have been forgiven for thinking the world of football had gone mad. Manchester United can’t defend, Norwich can’t stop picking up points, and Lionel Messi is averaging 4.7 goals per game, having overcome Mueller’s seemingly untouchable record.

Platini has previously encouraged home grown player quotas in domestic leagues and the wage cap. Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis (via Flickr)

But the thing that’s baffling is the apparent “zaniest idea” competition that is going on at UEFA right now.

The Europa League is constantly under attack for being too boring (a quite ignorant perspective in my opinion but that’s by the bye) so the response was to suggest entering twice as many teams in the Champions League, thus diluting the quality of games.

Nice one Michel Platini. It’s an insult to my intelligence to make me watch a “Champions” League match when I may well be casting my eye over Stoke vs Atromitos.

However, the latest change to a European competition sees Euro 2020 take place in a number of cities, rather than a host nation or nations.

Changes to the European Championships should come as no surprise to anyone. From four teams in 1960, to eight, to 16, the powers that be are forever tinkering with the thing. But to change the system of venue is one which remains relatively new.

My first reaction was that as a tournament, be it the World Cup or the Euros, part of the charm is in the host culture. We immersed ourselves in Bratwurst in 2006 and vuvuzelas in 2010, showing that football isn’t the only attraction at a major tournament. We football fans can have quite the soft spot for foreign cultures when we’re forced to go there you know.

Another concern raised immediately was the financial situation. The amount of travel would be massively increased if you’re shipping Spain to the Nou Camp one minute, then off to Cardiff the next.

Not only will it stretch the pockets of fans already paying over the odds for ticket prices, but in an era where mother nature is a wounded creature, the amount of flights and travel would be bordering on irresponsible. You can imagine the Ryanair planes rubbing their wings together with glee, can’t you?

However, this is Platini we’re talking about, not Blatter. It’s easy to tar both with the same brush, but Platini has had some pretty good ideas. From encouraging home grown player quotas in domestic leagues, to wage caps; Platini is quite sharp.

Although travel costs may increase, the cost of hosting the tournament for individual countries would significantly decrease, making it possible for countries like Ireland or Belgium to get involved. This brings me to my final but most important point, that of the ‘hub idea’ as I have named it.

The idea that hubs can be created is fascinating. For example, group A’s hub could be in Britain. You have Cardiff and Ireland offer a stadium each, and the group teams locate in that area, bringing the buzz of the group permutations but at a fraction of the cost. This is an idea that could bring football to the little guy.

So stand back and consider this idea on its own. As many hair brained schemes as we’ve had thrown at us in the past by football federations, this one has the ring of something morally and locally brilliant. And if it doesn’t work, just make them all wear tight shorts, right Mr Blatter?

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