Opinion: Football hegemonies will strangle the game

La-Decima-1

This season there were domestic cup doubles in Germany, Spain and France, while in Italy Juventus won the double for a second successive year. Football’s moneymen may love the allure of the big teams but variety is the spice of life and fans will ultimately drift away.

 

So Real Madrid are champions of Europe for an eleventh time. I couldn’t bring myself to congratulate the team because, given the club’s incredible financial advantage over Atlético de Madrid, the challenge was that much greater for the red-and-white half of the Spanish capital.

 

A new TV deal in Spain may even out the earnings playing field a little, and not before time, because as Leicester City has shown, a little shaking up of the old guard can really spark interest worldwide.

 

Suddenly the Premier League looks competitive and open, just at a point when it was in danger of becoming a closed shop.

 

Even The Economist wrote recently on how Bayern München’s continued dominance of the German game is affecting the Bundesliga’s marketability abroad. While I am the first to extol the wonders of the fan experience in Germany, the trophies do tend to head to the Allianz Arena, and it’s frankly a little dull and predictable. [Continues…]

 

Ostkurve Hertha Berlin fans

Hertha Berlin’s Ostkurve welcomes the team onto the pitch. Bundesliga attendances are the highest in the world’s leagues, but silverware is hard to wrestle from Bayern München.

 

How much of a challenge is it really to be a Bayern fan? Likewise, who wants to watch endless 6-0 wins for Barça? Where’s the jeopardy, a key ingredient for storytelling the world over? And sport is unscripted drama, after all.

 

No wonder the big clubs want to break away and form a European super league. They have little domestic challenge. This might appeal to them and TV executives, but even the fans will get bored of the same old teams playing each other. The irony being if this league had been touted in the 1980s, Aston Villa and Everton would be in with a shout and whither Chelsea and Manchester City?

 

Dortmund versus Inter every season will never mean as much as Dortmund versus Schalke or Borussia Mönchengladbach. As we say in the media trade, all news is local.

 

The answer to create more variety and interest is to strengthen domestic competition through redistribution of wealth. I don’t want to sound like one of the ‘Against Modern Football’ crowd, but the appeal of non-league football is stronger than ever.

 

So, my message to the marketing people is if you want a “great product” help football to create more Leicesters and less Bayerns, please. Variety is the spice of life.

 

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