So, if this bipartisan situation featuring some of the finest footballers in the world has been around for ages, what’s everyone bitching about?
Well, it just may be that the gap is getting bigger and bigger. The strong become stronger, and the weak, weaker. Before the games were close, but now blowouts are routine, and you end up watching games just to see how many goals they will score. IfBarcelonawins by a convincing 2-0, you almost feel as if you’ve been gypped. In the last two seasons, both teams have battled it out for first while the third place finisher cam in some 25 points behind. It’s not even remotely close. The difference is abysmal…and seems to be expanding.
I see that there are two major flaws that are leading to this, but I’ll tell you about them later.
1) Buying power. The too big clubs have so much more money and financial means to operate with that the other 18 clubs simply cannot compete. Take Kaká’s signing three years ago, for instance. The man cost 70 million euros (that’s around $100 million) and he often doesn’t even start. Just the other day I was an official candidate to win the Euro-millions lottery and had I won I would have taken home that much money. Set for life. What could I have done with it as an owner of a first division soccer club inSpain? Buy one international star. You can’t the say the same of professional sports in theU.S. Big cities often have perennial failures. Just look at the Knicks, Rangers and Mets. And, hey, they’re my teams so I know. And what about theChicagoCubs? Case in point.
2) Structural set-up. The league is designed to favor the strong and punish the weak. The wealthiest cities are able to build the best facilities and lure the most talented players and coaches. It’s that simple. And it stays that way. At the end of every season, the three worst teams get demoted to Second Division (which is financial hell for those clubs) and the top three teams of Second Division move up, which is also financial hell for them because they often have to dish out millions of euros they barely have just to beef up the roster. Otherwise they will get crushed up in the majors. Well, they usually get crushed anyway, so it hardly matters. There is no draft so the weaker teams don’t have a chance to build on what they have. This is no land of opportunities. It doesn’t mean that a team can’t poke its head through the clouds to realms of the elite, but it’s not that common and the system doesn’t favor it happening.
Of course, it would help to set up a playoff system just liven things up in the post season, but I can’t see that happening. Another option would be for there to be a European League so that these mighty giants could measure themselves against someone their own size, but they basically already have that with the European Cup Championship that is played out yearly in parallel with the national leagues. So forget that.
Maybe this is all premature. It is only the first week after all. But if things don’t change, the ones who are really going to lose out are the fans.