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October 2016
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by Don McMahon

I recently read an interesting post on the AA website about whether Arsenal could be considered eligible for the proposed (potential) Elite Champions League and what would happen to teams that didn’t get selected. The article hinted that this ECL would be an exclusive club based on their ability to draw huge crowds and increased revenues for the media giants. This bothered me as it also stated that there would be no relegation or promotion!

While reading this, I felt the need to specify certain conditions I believe would guarantee a fair and win-win situation for all concerned. Here are those conditions. This proposition might work IF the following were respected;

*The selection of eligible candidates should be based on a strict and detailed set of criteria to be pre-determined by FIFA, Uefa, the national Associations involved, the supporting media, the clubs under consideration (including those not considered elite but who do win serious trophies,awards etc.), the supporters of the Elite clubs and potential candidate clubs, and finally the EU.

* Promotion and relegation should remain in force but be determined on the basis of where the so-called ¨elite¨ clubs finish in the CL table for that season. Say anyone finishing below 13th place in a 20 team Elite CL would be relegated and 5 new clubs be admitted based on their finishing 1st in their respective leagues,

* The addition of 5 wild-card teams who had finished 2nd in their respective leagues. They would be required to participate in a pre-season elimination tournament against the bottom 7 CL elite teams facing relegated. The top 2 teams finishing 1st and second, regardless of their previous CL status, would be admitted to the CL Elite for the coming season.The remaining 10 teams would be relegated or remain in their leagues.

* Ticket prices would be kept very low for this elimination tournament and seasonal Elite Champions League prices would be reduced using a percentage of TV and Broadcast rights paid to each Club in the ECL (Elite Champions League).

Officials could only be from FIFA and never from the countries of clubs playing each other, just like current WC and Euro rules.

Away tickets would represent at least 25% of available seating and, IF there were home tickets not taken, they would be put in the away ticket pot to increase the chances for supporters to see away games at least 12 hours before kick-off.

The management of this ECL would be composed of a Board Of Directors composed of one representative of each elite club plus an executive committee of one FIFA appointee, Uefa appointee, one media representative, and one representative of supporters selected by the entire Board Of Directors.

Goal line technology and video referee reviews would be used from the very start of the first season.

Players could be transferred in or out during the mandatory winter break or the summer transfer window. Youth players would be eligible to play any ECL games provided they were on the 25 man list at the start of the season. Youth or reserve players would play in a 2nd team remaining at the National League level, which team would be ineligible for promotion to the ECL at any time.

Elite teams would be able to maintain a list of 5 more players on loan or eligible to be added to the 25 man list, provided a place was liberated by a departing or injured 1st team player.

The away goals rule would be dropped entirely and replaced by the WC 30 minutes additional time and penalty kicks if the match was tied at the end of normal time.

The useless friendlies and other internationals would be greatly reduced or eliminated altogether. They would be replaced by one week tournaments held before the start of the season or in the summer-time. There would be NO ECL games during the WC or the African Nations Cup period.

Clubs suffering long-term injuries caused by serious foul play or dangerous play would be compensated for such events, and by an insurance paid for by the ECL. A neutral panel made up of retired officials and sports medicine specialists would authorize this payment based on their detailed analysis of the event(s).

I am sure there are many other ideas we can bandy about and I welcome positive criticism and rational arguments, suggestions for this ECL.

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The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with an introduction by Bob Wilson available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon.   Details of this and our other titles can be found Arsenal Books on this site.

And more anniversaries

  • 1 February 1958: Arsenal lost 4-5 at Highbury to Manchester United in arguably the most thrilling game witnessed at the old stadium. Derek Tapscott scored Arsenal’s 4th goal to set up a grandstand finish – his 62nd and final league goal for the club. Tragedy was to strike six days later on a blizzard-swept Munich airport when Manchester United’s aircraft crashed on take off coming back from a European Cup tie with Red Star Belgrade. 21 passengers on board died that day, including several of the United players who took part in the nine goal classic.  It was also the start of sequence in which Arsenal let in 19 goals in five games.
  • 1 February 1971: Arsenal 3 Portsmouth 2, FA Cup 4th round replay in the first Double season.  Charlie George scored his first goal since March the previous year. Simpson and Storey got the other goals.



  • Chris

    Nice ideas there Don,

    I would seriously consider a salary cap like the one enforced in the NFL


  • nicky

    Any moves towards some form of capping the quite obscene players’ wages must be welcomed. 😉

  • serge

    Would qualifying clubs leave their domestic leagues to take part, or is this a separate midweek league run in parallel.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I think the true Champions League format had sinced been distorted by Uefa when for commercial advantage, they opened up the CL to the non actual Champions of the European professional football Leagues to participate there in.

    True, Was money the main drive behind the openinig up of the CL to non winners clubs of the Premier Leagues in their various countries to participate in the competition?

    I think the widening of the CL compititors to extend to 2 – 3 non winners of the Premier Leagues clubs in Europe has lower the challenge and competiveness among the top clubs to win the Premier League in their national Leagues.

    Only the very big money rich clubs have been winning the League in their countries as the lesser rich big clubs are less ambitious to win it knowing they’ll qualify to play in the CL if they can place 2nd – 4th in the tables of their Leagues.

    I think this expansion of the CL to includes clubs that are not Champions of their Leagues has affected Arsenal as they’ve not challenged to win d BPL.

  • omgarsenal

    Serge……..qualifying teams would leave their home league and play only in the ECL as far as I can see. Doing anything else is too much to ask….two big games a week is far too much!

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Don McMahon, I had to be back as I haven’t finished my comment due to lack of enough typing space in my small tecno handset I was using to type.

    Would Arsenal have been more challenged to win the BPL in the last 10 years, and even win it at least 4 times in the last decade, if they have to win the BPL before they can play in the CL? Providence can answer that question better. But I should think so.

    And has this Uefa expansion of the CL to included some non winners clubs of their Premeir Leagues made Arsenal to be a little bit gone mediocares as they haven’t won the BPL for a decade? It’s very likely so I should think.

    Don, your ideal is laudable. The World is evolutionary and so does football has ever been moving to evolution application trend. So, I will not be against your ECL ideal. However, It should’nt be only based on money making venture for Uefa and the participating clubs. But also, let there be copetitiveness in the form of promotion and relegation format included in it.

  • Jambug

    Debuchy has joined Bordeaux on loan.

  • Gord

    And Sanogo is apparently off to Charlton. If they can pry the Ajax slivers out of his butt. 🙂

    I hope he has better luck there.

  • bob

    Dear fans, why jump like monkeys at the prestige offered by a Social Darwinian/Malthusian model of mass relegation to all but the already well endowed? Do we/you really need this regal inclusion (perhaps as consolation) to satisfy the/our unfulfilled hunger for the elusive EPL or CL championship?