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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

European Leagues

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Italian football needs overhaul

This blog post suggests that Italian football requires a major overhaul if it is to regain its former stature. Doubtless so, but some of the five suggestions put forward would prove controversial, not least merging clubs.   The personal identity of fans is tied up with clubs and successful mergers are few and far between.

The petrodollar derby

Tonight's Champions League game between Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain is more than a clash between teams representing two major European cities.   It is also has a geopolitical dimension, built around Arab oil wealth.   It is Qatar versus Abu Dhabi, the al-Thani family versus the al-Nahyan family.

Dr Christopher Davison, a reader in Middle East Politics at Durham University, has described the acquisitions of City and PSG as part of 'soft power' strategies ('hard power' is generally associated with military might).

Champions League spot secure

England's fourth Champions League spot is secure for 2017-18 afterJuventus were defeated by Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.   England now has a lead of 3.97 coefficient points over Italy, although the longer term Italian challenge remains a concern.

Champions League revenue and the associated prestige is of vital importance to top clubs.

'Leicester don't matter' says breakaway boss

The man behind the idea of a breakaway European super league has argued that Leicester City do not matter in terms of the global popularity of football.  'What would Manchester United argue, did we create soccer or Leicester?', said Charlie Stillitano, chairman of Relevent Sports.

The 'big five' teams would make far more money if they were guaranteed entry to a revamped Champions League.   Clubs like Manchester United deserved a permanent place in the competition.

Success on a small budget

Their town in the Basque Country has a population of 27,000, their municipal stadium can only accommodate 6,000, yet Eibar Ipurua are not only in La Liga, they are currently seventh.

Ordered to raise share capital to comply with the league's rules, the club turned to crowdfunding, selling shares at €50 each and raising €2 million.

Discussions about changing FA Cup

The possibility of offering the fourth Champions League spot to the winner of the FA Cup (if they have not already qualified) is one topic being discussed between the Football Association and the Premier League as they look at the future of the competition.

An alternative suggestion is that there should be a play off between the FA Cup winner and the club placed fourth.  All this depends, of course, on the fourth slot being retained.

Cash incentives to do well in Europa League

Premier League clubs may be offered cash incentives to do as well as possible in the Europa League. The plan is one of a number of measures that have been discussed to ensure that the top flight does not lose its fourth slot in the Champions League to a resurgent Serie A.

Italy made up more than half their deficit to England in Uefa's coefficient table in 2015.   They could leap ahead next season leaving the Premier League with only three slots from 2018.

PSG dominate French football

Paris Saint-Germain have a 24 point lead at the top of Ligue 1.  They remain unbeaten this season and they are almost certain to win the French title with more points that any other team in history.

It is now five years since the Qatar Investment Authority bought PSG, a deal that many belive was arranged by Nicolas Sarkozy, then the French president, and a PSG fan.   They were catapulted to the status of a super power in European football.

Top clubs want to ring fence Champions League

Leicester City may have every prospect of qualifying for the Champions League this season, but the chances of a club outside the elite taking part will be reduced in future if the European Club Association gets its way.

They are concerned that too many big clubs are finding their way to the competition barred, particularly in the more competitive English and Italian leagues.

Bundesliga continues to thrive

The German Bundesliga continues to thrive, reporting record financial results for the 11th year in a row. With a reputation for reasonable ticket prices, the league reported a seventh year of record revenues, up 7 per cent at €2,6bn.

Profits increased to €51m, up by 31 per cent.