Since Porto won the Champions League under Jose Mourinho in 2004, many argue that the competition has descended into monotony. After all, the past 3 competitions have been won by Real Madrid and extending that even further, Barcelona and Los Blancos have won 7 of the past 10 – it has been a decade of pure Spanish dominance. Yet with a Juventus side tearing up Serie A with Cristiano Ronaldo, a star-studded Manchester City and PSG and Kylian Mbappe looking to dispel European myths, a Champions League mutiny has never looked so ripe.
But this is not the question in focus. The question is whether the Champions League has become a giants playground and whether we will ever see another European underdog fairytale.
The issue lies with the governing body of European football, Uefa, and it’s unfair financial distribution. Uefa supply around 1.3 billion Euros to the 32 participating clubs every year. 55% is prize money (which obviously increases in accordance to a team’s progression in the competition), 30 % is for the 10 year coefficient ranking and 15% is the TV rights market pool. The 10 year coefficient ranking was introduced last year and it rewards clubs over their performances in Europe over the past 10 years. The higher ranking you are, the more money you receive each year. An immoral system to satisfy the bank accounts of Europe’s elite.
Well, surely if the smaller, less rich clubs wanted to be more involved with this lucrative pool of cash then they should pick their performances up in Europe ? But no, it all stems from the group stage draw. The clubs who have performed best domestically in the season prior ( usually the richest clubs ), are put in hat one, then hat two is the second best clubs and so on and so forth.
It gives the richest clubs the best possible chance of going through, and makes it near impossible for the more modest clubs to qualify and improve their coefficient ranking in what manifests into an unyieldingly vicious cycle. The big clubs are rewarded for doing what is expected of them, yet the smaller clubs aren’t. As a result, the financial rift mercilessly expands.
Yes, the magic of an underdog story is the rarity of it. Yes, the raison d’être of the Champions League is to find the undisputed greatest club in Europe that year. Yes, seeing la crème de la crème lock horns is often a captivating spectacle. However, the concerning thing is that as each year goes by in the Champions League, the underdog will find it increasingly difficult to make a name for himself on the biggest stage in Europe. The drastic financial disparity points towards one, universally dreaded conclusion: The European Super League…