Uefa plans would bring 'closed shop' Champions League a step closer

Tuesday, 28 April, 2020 157comments  |  Jump to last
Proposals from Uefa made public today have set out new parameters that would make it harder for clubs outside the established top four to qualify for the Champions League in the future.

The English Football Association have revealed plans under discussion with European football's governing body designed to limit the number of different clubs who can play in the Continent's elite tournament by basing qualification on four-year rolling performance in their domestic league.

It would mean that from 2024 onwards clubs like Everton would need to finish in the top four of the Premier League on a consistent basis in order to qualify for the Champions League, win the title outright or reach the semi-finals of an expanded 32-team Europa League.

Entry into the Europa League would be based on reaching the semi-finals of the forthcoming Europa Conference League or via domestic league position as usual.

The FA indicated in a statement that these proposals are not final and that they would continue to "work with all stakeholders to reach an acceptable position," but, tacitly at least, there appears to be broad agreement with the notion of protecting the revenue streams of Europe's biggest clubs:

“The aim of this proposal is to drive increased revenue opportunities, protect elite European club revenue streams, and meet the demands of a growing, international audience; however it would result in additional matches for English club (eight additional match days) in an already heavily-congested schedule, and would reduce the competition for a ‘top four' finish in the Premier League, which has become a key feature among the ‘big six' English clubs.

While the planned shake-up would appear to diminish the prospects of a breakaway European Super League, they represent significant steps towards closing the door to "smaller" clubs and ensuring that the current clubs enjoying dominance in the Continent's biggest leagues will continue to be represented in the Champions League on a regular basis.

It also increases the pressure on clubs like Everton to escalate their attempts to crack the top four and establish a foothold among the domestic elite, something that remains a key goal under owner Farhad Moshiri, Director of Football Marcel Brands and manager Carlo Ancelotti.


Reader Comments (157)

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Steavey Buckley
1 Posted 28/04/2020 at 19:55:46
Not finishing the 2019-20 is not as scary as the proposal between the FA and Uefa abolishing automatic admission to Champions League by finishing in the top 4. From next season, for the next 4 seasons, teams can only gain admission to a 32-team Champions League if they have finished consistently in the top 4 or have reached the semis of the Europa League.
Tony Abrahams
2 Posted 28/04/2020 at 20:49:51
The new proposals for the Champions League are immoral, all about protecting the supposedly elite clubs, and just trying to close the shop even more for everyone else.

Every day, I'm getting a bit more disgusted with the sport I love. I was listening to Carragher saying just the other day that they have got to finish the league, for its integrity... Honestly, this is whilst thousands of people are dying every week, right now? Get a grip, Jamie!!

John Pierce
3 Posted 28/04/2020 at 21:01:09
Tony. I really cannot see European competition being finished this or started next season. The significant travel to places with different health standards seems an unnecessary risk.

Why push it? Well I guess we know why, but isn't time Uefa showed some leadership? Unlikely but eventually similarly in the domestic arena countries will realize it's not a good idea, withdraw and force Uefa into a corner.

Billy Roberts
4 Posted 28/04/2020 at 22:04:36
Stinks, simple as that, when it's already not smelling too good.
Peter Mills
5 Posted 28/04/2020 at 22:19:37
Cartel, monopoly, gang, mob – call it what you will.
Dave Abrahams
6 Posted 28/04/2020 at 22:26:56
Sometimes proposals are made when you just know they are absolutely morally wrong. This is one of them. Absolutely, and any club that votes for this knows it as well.

It won't stop them but every football fan will know it's wrong, including the fans of clubs who vote for it.

Peter Foy
7 Posted 28/04/2020 at 22:38:21
This might backfire. In the last 4 years finishes in the top four are:

Man City 4/4
Liverpool 3/4
Man Utd 1/4
Arsenal 1/4
Chelsea 2/4
Tottenham 4/4

Only two ever presents in Man City and Spurs; Man Utd and Arsenal are fucked. Maybe they will tweak the rules a bit to allow them in?

What will happen to FFP? If we're basically banned from Europe, we may as well spend what we like and win the Premier League every year. Same with Newcastle after their takeover.

Jay Wood

8 Posted 28/04/2020 at 22:49:49
I would love to know the timeline of this 'innovation'.

Long time in the making, which means collusion and concealment has been the order of the day..?

Or rapidly patched together in the 'wake' (and there has been 126,000+ of those in Europe alone) of the ongoing CV-19 crisis..?

Either way, it stinks.

This could be the death knell of many a club. It could also seriously backfire as it is, IMO, a backdoor way of introducing a European Super League which remains under the auspices of UEFA without a feared breakaway movement from the 'elite'.

I firmly believe a closed European Super League will never replace the attraction of the parochial national leagues.

National associations need to be strong and declare if something like this comes to pass, choose: stay loyal to your national league, or take your ball and play with your continental buddies with no option of returning to the fold.

Ultimately, it could also shake the tree of global football's administrative system. The very future of international football could be under threat as a European elite group mop up the world's most talented players and start refusing to release them for FIFA's international football or regional competitions.

This will stir up many a storm. It's good that it's out in the open too. 'Cos it's going to be 4-5 clubs versus the rest.

Let battle commence!

Kenny Smith
9 Posted 28/04/2020 at 22:50:18
It's already virtually impossible to compete in the Europa League and have a very good domestic season, especially if you're in it from July. You basically have no pre-season, play about 10 more games and play teams who surprise you because, unlike the Champions League teams, you don't know most of them.

The new competition will ensure teams like us get trapped in a spiral of 3rd rate European football whilst the so-called global teams cream the money and take any player who's decent. Is there any point in even playing if this is the case?

Let's see how those loveable reds react to this. Will they stand shoulder to shoulder with us cos they're always on crusades to save football, "Twenty's Plenty", "Football's nothing without fans" etc, etc... $$hhhh!!!

Brian Williams
10 Posted 28/04/2020 at 23:02:35
It'll end up becoming like the Celtic/Rangers scenario on a bigger scale with more teams.

It'll become boring and predictable and as such less appealing to the masses.

Fuck 'em.

John Raftery
11 Posted 28/04/2020 at 23:29:00
This is a laughable proposal which along with the farce of VAR will diminish the game at the top level. The future of professional football is threatened by the virus. There is however no threat greater than that posed by the authorities who run the game.
Bob Parrington
12 Posted 28/04/2020 at 23:48:17
This has the element of greed written all over it. So it will fail; but, unfortunately, it will likely cause widespread damage along the way.
Gavin Johnson
13 Posted 29/04/2020 at 00:14:00
Truly unbelievable?! I'm sure these proposals won't come into fruition. It's already a closed shop playing in the Champions League, barring the anomaly of Leicester. If this went through, they would have to relax FFP so clubs like ourselves and Newcastle with their Arab money could buy their way in.

There would also be outrage if a team finished 4th and they had to miss out on Champions League football due to it being their first time. Clubs will veto this – and the ones who don't can get on with it and leave the Premier League.

Kase Chow
14 Posted 29/04/2020 at 00:39:32
It's not sport in its truest sense.

It's corruption.

Jack Convery
15 Posted 29/04/2020 at 01:11:05
A surprise finisher in the top 4 or even winning the Premier League will have all their best players bought by the top teams in the Premier League or Europe over the next couple of transfer windows ( as with Mahrez, Ngolo Kante), meaning it's unlikely they will consistently appear in the top 4.

The consistent teams will be the wealthiest – practically a closed shop. This will ensure they stay wealthy. If this is allowed to happen, those consistently outside the top 4 -6, should vote to expel the top 4/6 if they agree to it.

The split in football is surely a step nearer. Money will talk and the ruination of the people's game will be complete.

Another left-field plan could be the 14 joining the SPL – now that I would love to see.

Derek Thomas
16 Posted 29/04/2020 at 01:44:27
'Revenue Oportunities'...'Protect'...'Revenue Streams'

Five words, that all you need to read from their announcement.

Tell em to fuck off and do it then, call their bluff... even if it means going back, cap in hand, to the old First Division. If they'll even have us after we shit on them before.

The Lunatics truely are in charge of the asylum.

Kristian Boyce
17 Posted 29/04/2020 at 04:29:48
The whole joker in the pack in this is Man City. With their ban, there's a good chance they wouldn't qualify for it (conveniently for Uefa). They have all the money in the world and would fight this until it got scrapped.
Alan J Thompson
18 Posted 29/04/2020 at 05:04:54
So, from making some clubs richer than others almost ensuring a high finish in their respective Leagues, Uefa are now going to not just set the qualifying conditions, they are going to select the sides to take part. Nothing like a bit of competition to bring the best out of people, eh?
Andy Mead
19 Posted 29/04/2020 at 06:46:01
I have always thought that, if Uefa (and Fifa, for that matter) had their way, they would just choose who qualifies for the Champions League, World Cup etc and be done with it. It's corporate greed at its worst.

Any Premier League club that goes for this should be expelled from the league. But, if the league hasn't got the balls to do it, then ever opponent should refuse to play them as what would be the point of gaining points if it didn't matter anymore?

I really hope that football gets cleaned up and gets back to reality after this virus as, to be honest, I hate the way the game has gone, with out-of-touch players and corruption everywhere. I don't miss that side of it at all.

Colin Glassar
20 Posted 29/04/2020 at 07:15:24
Just the next logical step in the inexorable march towards a super-rich, closed shop cartel.
Hugh Jenkins
21 Posted 29/04/2020 at 07:39:22
How, in the Name of sanity, can an organisation that dreamt up and then embraces the concept of FFP, come up with a plan to "Protect Revenue Streams" – an oxymoron, if ever I saw one.
Danny ONeill
22 Posted 29/04/2020 at 08:09:47
This is Uefa's long desired "2nd phase" of the evolution of the premier European trophy to ensure the big guns don't miss out. It's why the Champions League was introduced to replace its predecessor, the European Cup, which by and large only permitted one club per country (the league champions of that country) plus the defending European champions.

That clearly meant in Spain, either Barcelona or Real could miss out. In Italy, anyone from Juventus to either of the Milan teams. In Germany, Bayern. That obviously wasn't appropriate for the Uefa barons, hence the current format so that, short of the odd disastrous season, those elite clubs are pretty much in the Champions League just about every season.

This is just a further step to consolidate that grip and effectively turn it into a closed shop European Super League that they dream of.

Robert Tressell
23 Posted 29/04/2020 at 08:12:10
This really is a scandal. Completely devalues domestic leagues and robs clubs of any hope. If this were to happen, what would be the point?

We only keep going now because every dog has its day and can 'do a Leicester'. Probably the worst thing that could happen to a sport that loses integrity more and more as the money gets out of control.

Michael Nisbet
24 Posted 29/04/2020 at 08:56:57
This is absolutely atrocious. Boycott!

I suggest if this happens, no one should watch any of these "Champions League"* games. Boycott them until they realise what a horrible evil plan it was.

* Remember when the Champions League was only for the actual champions of each league. Football was in a much better place back then.

Bob Parrington
25 Posted 29/04/2020 at 08:59:10
UK has Brexit, doesn't it. Tell the Uefa to go get fucked, and build a league built on good old British principles. Most European country clubs won't want the Uefa crap programme and so this could be a big export income or am I too far away from the action over there?
Mike Benjamin
26 Posted 29/04/2020 at 09:00:32
Eventually, there will be more than 4 teams from the bigger nations so none of the usual suspects will miss the anticipated gravy train. But it depends on one thing: teams being able to travel to another country.

There must be a big doubt whether any European competition will be possible for at least 12 months so where will that leave their revenue streams? In deep poo poo!!!!

Liam McAdam
27 Posted 29/04/2020 at 09:07:49
If this is the case and they insist on changing it, why not give more teams an opportunity?

I think for the Premier League, and Champions League alike, a super league would be good. Barcelona, Man City, Juventus, PSG and Bayern win their leagues. To make it work, smaller countries would have to be involved too, so let's say cup winners from 10 leauges, playing each other 2 or 3 times, for support or affordability as they will be flying all over Europe. Premier League winners and First Division winners will not compete in their next seasons and this will stop teams from winning it twice on the run and give other teams a chance to get in.

Possibly give the option to runners-up to see if they'd rather get into the Europa League or the Champions League. Depending on what they do, 4 or 5 will have to come up and down to replace the missing teams, as well as your standard 3. This way, Man City will not be in the Premier League, so there will be a new winner the next season, but they can still compete in their domestic cups and the Champions League.

Not accurate and probably won't happen but I am hopeful it at least makes sense... hahaha!

Charles Barrow
28 Posted 29/04/2020 at 09:18:51
Uefa make it up as they go along. Remember the statement by Uefa a month or go saying that any country that abandoned their league then their teams would be banned from European competitions!! Surprise surprise, once they realised that meant possibly no Champions League at all, then they changed tack pretty quickly.

Essentially, as everyone knows, Uefa's only interest is their power base and the 'elite' clubs. Fans generally are an irritating necessity.

Brian Murray
29 Posted 29/04/2020 at 09:36:17
It's a real tragedy that people have to lose their lives to see the true colours of the FA, Uefa and certain ex-Reds.

This virus will dictate that by, next year sometime we will have our pre-Sky football back and on an even playing field... giving the Blue Boys a real chance to rise again. Stay safe. Null and void.

Brent Stephens
30 Posted 29/04/2020 at 09:48:29
Would this be a "breakaway super-league-lite"? With no need for an actual super league?

In other words, for the elite clubs, it has most of the benefits of a breakaway super league (protecting the current position of the elite clubs, through a largely closed shop) with none of the disadvantages of a breakaway super league?

Christine Foster
31 Posted 29/04/2020 at 09:56:10
Frankly, if the teams in question voted for it let them go... straight out of the Premier League. But, if they want to come back when it all fails, they don't automatically get back in the Premier League, but back to the League Two, and they can do a Rangers.

Personally, I don't think the Champions League or a European league is worth the paper it's written on, 18 teams from around Europe, it would flop.

The lure of the domestic titles is the key... the future is not a super league.

James Newcombe
32 Posted 29/04/2020 at 10:02:06
This is the natural progression of a game that has all but ceased to be a sport. All that matters is corporate sponsorship and television rights; and they go hand-in-hand with ensuring that the big brands are always competing at the top level.

I haven't watched a Champions League game for years as I can't stand the cheating; I can't see that changing any time soon.

Billy Roberts
33 Posted 29/04/2020 at 10:02:09
Liam @24,

Your post has made my head spin!! Think there may be a job for you at Uefa. The logistics of what you're suggesting would keep that organisation busy for the next 5years, I think.

So the reward for winning your domestic league is you get exiled to play teams from not just Spain and Italy but Norway and Greece? Sounds great for the travelling fans that doesn't it. Maybe I misunderstood your post, there was a lot to misunderstand.

Steve Johnston
34 Posted 29/04/2020 at 10:20:26
Reckon the so-called elite clubs have been planning this for a while. Now, Uefa will bend over for them, else they form their own, independent 'European Super League'.

I agree with Christine 28. trouble is though, I don't think the FA etc have the balls to insist these clubs start from the bottom (if they did come back). They too would see £££ signs and not want to miss out on their money-making.

Personally, I'd tell them to feck off. After a while, there would be no away fans in any European Super League – who could afford to travel abroad every 2 weeks? But, these super-rich clubs would just cry 'Human Rights.... Violation of Trade' or some such and use their slimy lawyers to guarantee them a place back at the top of the fold. Bastards.

Michael Burke
36 Posted 29/04/2020 at 10:45:45
I would love to see a reintroduction of a true European Cup. The winners of national leagues playing each other. The true elite over the season. The cream of the crop.

I would love to see the next crop of 4/5 teams from the national leagues playing each other in the secondary competition. I would love to see the national cup winners have the opportunity to play their counterparts in Europe.

Oh wait... we've already had that and it was scrapped because greedy money men wanted more. This is not about football or fans, it is all the eurodollar.

Steve Carse
37 Posted 29/04/2020 at 11:10:28
This proposal would seemingly guarantee a place in the Champions League to a club that hasn't even been the Champions of its own domestic league for over 30 years.
Billy Roberts
38 Posted 29/04/2020 at 11:10:37
Liam @32,

Thanks for your reply, sorry for my sarcasm, mate, but, as you say yourself, there was a lot going on with your post there.

I personally wouldn't change anything about the Champions League as it stands now, if I'm being honest.

The Europa League has unfortunately become a bit of a sideshow, It doesn't need to be, I think, if slimmed down it could be more attractive; playing the final in places like Azerbaijan doesn't help.

Saying that, I would love Everton to win it.

Dave Williams
39 Posted 29/04/2020 at 11:36:08
Disgraceful. If it happens, then the “also-rans” should break away to form their own leagues, leaving the top four-stranded with no one to play against on a weekly basis.

This proposal together with FFP is designed to keep the top four the same every year and make it impossible for any team to break that monopoly.

If the rest break away, they would take the vast majority of fans with them as the top four would be despised by everyone apart from their own fans who would soon lose interest.

What a despicable shower those clubs are.

Ed Fitzgerald
40 Posted 29/04/2020 at 11:48:03
Let them go their own way but don't let them play in any domestic league.

Personally, I would love a return to all clubs belonging to the Football League with a more equitable distribution of funds across all four divisions. The current inequity in football mirrors the chasm of wealth distribution in society, just as we are finding out right now: the key workers are those much-maligned public servants who often earn a pittance, not fucking social media influencers, hedge fund managers etc.

Similarly in football the RS, Man Utd etc are fucked without the less fashionable and marketable clubs in all divisions. It's these clubs that provide the passion, tradition, surprises and heart that football needs, in that sense they are the key clubs – not the so-called top 6.

The Champions League is an awfully boring competition in my opinion, it's already a closed shop and I rarely watch it. Whilst it may attract audiences across the globe, it's the domestic competitions that are the cash cow because it has the elements of surprise and passion from fans.

Patrick McFarlane
41 Posted 29/04/2020 at 11:52:02
Apparently this 61 page document was published in December 2019, so it has been a work-in-progress for some considerable time. My understanding of it, if it came to pass, would see the next 4 seasons being even more critical than any similar time frame of the past.

Of course these proposals came prior to the pandemic, but it does show that the 'big' clubs want to have guaranteed European football and therefore guaranteed lucrative TV money.

Everton are a club which is ambitious and has some financial backing but I fear that the club has missed the boat and this may have been the 'window of opportunity' that Moshiri was talking about a few years ago. I don't think Evertonians want the club to be part of a closed shop, and I echo that, but, if Everton FC aren't able to clamber aboard this particular distasteful project, what will be the future for our club and the proposed new stadium?

FA fears over new Champions League plans and end of 'top four' race

Steve Johnston
42 Posted 29/04/2020 at 12:05:06
Dave Williams @36 and Ed Fitzgerald @37. Totally agree with you both.

Problem for me is the sheer amount of £££ they have/will get and also, the fair-weather fans and/or the Sky Darling fans around the world. As long as they stump up for it through telly subscription, merchandise etc, then I can see it happening. At least for a while. Besides, the meejah just love the so-called elite clubs anyway. Everyone else is simply there to make up the fixture lists.

Tony Abrahams
43 Posted 29/04/2020 at 12:18:13
Colin @17, short and sweet, and in a nutshell!

Dave @36, A breakaway of sorts would make a lot of sense. Keep our domestic leagues, and banish the teams who want to stay under the Uefa flag, and then create another European Cup & League, to be played on the same nights as the other competition?

Force them to break away, by pushing them out, especially if they are found to have been behind this new plan from the beginning.

Steve Johnston
44 Posted 29/04/2020 at 12:22:04
Patrick McFarlane @38.

Agreed. As an Evertonian, I don't want us to become a brand/franchise like the Sky meeja darlings now are. But, unfortunately, to be at the top table probably means just that. £££ driven (far more so than ever before); top rank sport is already far down that path. To a lesser extent, rugby (talk of a part privately owned/sponsored ring-fenced Premiership) and cricket (The Hundred franchise probably a back-door way to replace traditional counties) are following suit.

I too hope that, when (if?) the bubble finally bursts, we can get back to a more level playing field. Yes, some clubs will be bigger than others, but not like the behemoths we have now (since Sky re-invented the game).

Jerome Shields
45 Posted 29/04/2020 at 12:51:03
This is the thin edge of the wedge to a European Super League, consisting of Clubs that are able to qualify on the bases of having access to more resources at the expense of the Clubs that are not able to qualify, rather than their actual ability.

It would also iron out performance cycles for the richest clubs and you can bet that dropping back down won't be on one season's performance in the Champions League. It is a formula for performing showbiz type football, in my opinion.

I would rather follow Everton in the Championship than follow such crap.

Bobby Mallon
46 Posted 29/04/2020 at 13:06:43
Why do you all care so much? Until we and other clubs start finishing in the European places, then it does not matter.

I just want to watch Everton – I don't care who against (preferably the other Premier League teams) and definitely against any European team in any European competition.

We all know and knew this was going to happen. Like someone said earlier, it's up to National associations to fight it.

Brian Wilkinson
47 Posted 29/04/2020 at 13:54:17
If this is the case and it goes on for the future, then let's look at the bigger picture. The big boys will still qualify each season; however, they will have to stick to the FFP rules. Other teams can steam in and not worry about the FFP rules for a few seasons and build big, they cannot face a ban straight away so, by the time they are starting to finish regularly in the top 4, they will have already spent the money on the team rebuild.

Okay for the time being, the usual suspects will qualify each season for now; they normally do anyway, but other teams can finally outspend the big boys without fear of breaching FFP rules.

I do not agree with their formula, but they could be cutting off their nose to spite their face; this could come back to bite them on the arse.

Tony Everan
48 Posted 29/04/2020 at 14:25:29
A corrupt idea that exposes this cartel in the extreme.

Shows the machinations that go on behind the scenes by the elite clubs who feel self-entitled. It will make it an even more closed shop.

They are an anti-competitive disgrace. Any football fan from any background should see this as catastrophically damaging to fairness and to the sport itself.

Liam Reilly
49 Posted 29/04/2020 at 14:52:56
I thought I'd miss football more than I do, but I'm actually getting used to its absence... and when these machiavellian, corrupt, despicable pieces of shit ''decision-makers'' attempt, year on year, to protect the revenue streams of these so-called "elite clubs", it's one step closer to me just giving up.

Let them have their Super League; they'll be back in 3-4 years when they finally realise that it's doomed to fail. They'll soon test the loyalty and passion of the Domestic League supporters.

It's crying shame that Football today is unrecognisable from the game I grew up devoted to.

Joe Bibb
50 Posted 29/04/2020 at 16:21:18
If the countless thousands who subscribe to Sky / BT Sports don't pay to watch these games, then something might get done.
David Hallwood
51 Posted 29/04/2020 at 16:56:56
Not only it is immoral, but the money appears to have blinded them to why sport is so watchable. Let's take an average season, sometime in late March or early April; out of the 20 teams, 2 or 3 have a realistic shot at being champions while another 5 or 6 have European ambitions. While, at the other end, 6 or 8 are fighting relegation. So, out of the 20 teams, there will be 14 or 15 that have something to play for.

Therefore, supposing that in this given season we're in 9th place, and therefore I'll be interested in the game between 6th & 4th etc; also, as a football consumer, I will also have an eye on the relegation battle.

Now let's look at a super league: given that, in any league in any sport, there will always be 2, 3 or possibly 4 title contenders, supposing there's 20 teams in the super league and we're in January, there will be 15 of those teams with no chance of winning the league. There's obviously no European spot or relegation... what would be my motivation as a consumer to watch a match between Anderlecht vs Napoli (for example) in what would effectively be a friendly? And the majority of the fixtures would be just that.

If they're proposing for the ‘elite' teams to stay in their respective national leagues and come out to play in the closed shop challenge trophy, the FA and other national bodies would need to grow a collective pair and tell Uefa to fuck right off in 6-8 different languages.

This is yet another example of an industry eating itself; it wasn't too long ago that ‘elite' Man City were in the 3rd division (or whatever they call it). A short-sighted, greedy footballing death rattle.

Danny ONeill
52 Posted 29/04/2020 at 17:20:23
Joe Bibb. That's a great shout. We have all inevitably fuelled this with our addiction to the circus!!

A bit like not being able to give up going to Goodison – no matter what is served up in front of us and how much our hopes are consistently killed. "It's the hope that kills you" as they say.

John Deegan
53 Posted 29/04/2020 at 17:27:20
It's very rare for me to post a comment, but I have followed Everton from close and far for nearly 60 years through all the ups and downs.

What has surprised me is that I thought the lockdown would lead to terrible withdrawal symptoms from my weekly football fix, but I am finding that, although I do desperately miss Everton, I can see much more clearly that the Premier League, Uefa, and the rest are mainly run by greedy moneymen who can go and hang themselves as far as I am concerned.

So I also would welcome the so-called big clubs leaving us to go into an elite European league of some sort, with no real change in the member clubs from year to year. I think it would lose its appeal fairly quickly, and we could get on with a new competitive English league.

If that also meant that I could cancel my Sky, BT and Prime subscriptions, and instead pay only for an upgraded Everton TV sub to see all our games, then I would be happier than I have been since 1987.

Len Hawkins
54 Posted 29/04/2020 at 17:42:37
I hope that, once a club leaves for any Euro SuperLeague that may transpire, they are not allowed back to the Premier League – they must go down a few divisions to thank them for their disloyalty to the English game.
Joe McMahon
55 Posted 29/04/2020 at 18:40:11
Absolutely wrong... but, let's face it, Everton have never qualified anyway. The biggest loss (IMO) was the Kings Dock stadium never being built. That set us back years.

If we had been playing in the stadium for the past 15 years, we would be in a different place now with a different image.

Jay Woods
56 Posted 29/04/2020 at 18:40:24
If this comes to fruition as presently outlined, I'm done with football. I know there are even some fans of the elite clubs who feel the same way.

Uefa might as well just award the European Cup to Real Madrid 5 out of every 10 years and rotate it between Bayern, Liverpool, Barca, Juve and Man Utd the other 5, because, you know, "history" and "tradition" in the competition across whatever arbitrary timeframe you wish to pluck from the ether to justify excluding everyone else.

Rob Halligan
57 Posted 29/04/2020 at 18:41:58
Len #54, I've always said if any English team leaves to join a European Super League, then that's it – they are not allowed back, ever, into the Premier League.

Of course, If a promotion & relegation scenario was introduced, then fair enough I suppose, they would have to be let back into their respective league. So, for example, the bottom two in the Super League were from Spain and Germany, then the winners of the top division in those two countries would gain entrance into the Super League.

Somehow, though, I doubt that promotion & relegation would be part of the greedy bastards' thinking.

Paul Birmingham
58 Posted 29/04/2020 at 19:15:09
Jay @56, I'm with you: the game won't be the game we grew up with and adapted to over the last 30 years; eventually it would destroy itself for the love of money.

No doubt some bean counter with no clue of football will sanction some trial in a future preseason, and the path is set.

God help the game of football if this happens.

Steve Pugh
59 Posted 29/04/2020 at 19:35:04
No team in the new competition can play in their domestic leagues and no player from those teams can represent their country,

While it may not affect the Premier League money grabbers, there are other countries that command a degree of pride from their players. Imagine Barcelona with no Catalans in the team. The fans would leave in their thousands.

Tony Everan
60 Posted 29/04/2020 at 20:56:37
I really hope they do create a super league so the next 16 clubs and the top 4 in the championship can form “The New Premier League “. The defectors can be told there is absolutely no route back; when you've gone, you've gone.

I will find it very easy to forget that they exist; if their corrupt and greedy project fails, maybe they really won't.


Jamie Crowley
61 Posted 29/04/2020 at 21:06:32
This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

Much of the attraction to sport is the Cinderella-Story team. Everyone loves a Leicester run, some plucky little team (!) making a run at Champions League qualification. If Uefa do this, it's like sucking all the fun out of watching.

Forget about Everton for a second. Imagine if Wolves made it into the Top 4? Hell, I'd root for them like mad if we weren't in it. What about the amazing Leicester City title and their Euro exploits the next season after they inexplicably won the title? So much fun to watch!

Why in the hell do Uefa give a shit about the big clubs' revenue streams? Who cares! If one of the big clubs fall out (AC Milan, Everton, pick a Dutch side, Celtic who have big Clubs and don't participate [regularly] but keep the dream alive) of regular Champions League play, someone gladly steps in and takes their place.

This is so fucking monumentally stupid, it can't be logically defended. Four-year rolling basis is just boring and gives clubs around the world very little motivation to really have a go at reaching the summit.

It's just plain dumb. And it's so disgustingly ivory-tower, superiority complex puke-inducing.

Soccer isn't about the elite. It's about having a sport, deigned by The Almighty, where anyone, anywhere, can play and succeed. All you need is something even resembling a ball and you're off. You don't even need shoes for fuck's sake!! Talk about absolutely ruining a sport. The world is fucking nuts, I swear.

Jamie Crowley
62 Posted 29/04/2020 at 21:23:13
Before anyone says anything, yes, I know Celtic make it in just about every single season since Rangers went bust. But they almost always drop out down the Europa League.

They really haven't featured in the Champions League for quite a few years. But they keep the dream alive, year-in & year-out.

Uefa shouldn't be allowed to kill the dream for clubs like:

AC Milan
Leicester City
Sheffield United
Manchester United 😂
Name a Dutch Side FC
Atalanta (the one not in Georgia)
Real Sociedad
Any team in a smaller league I've forgotten

Criminal. Absolutely criminal.

Rant over. Have a nice day. Wash your hands.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
63 Posted 29/04/2020 at 21:24:14
In the US, there are 32 football teams. No promotion. No relegation. San Diego have just moved to Los Angeles. One LA team have just moved to Las Vegas. Tennessee used to play in Houston. Indianapolis used to play in Baltimore.

We will have The Catalans, the Reds, Bayern, The Tower, The Devils, Old Ladies, and any other franchise names you can think of. Then, when it is realised that, apart from the Lilywhites, there are no teams in London, the Amsterdam Cloggers move to a new stadium in West London and call themselves the Shepherd's Bush Cloggers because there is more money to be made.

And then Mr Moshiri buys out the Milan Nerazzuri and they become the Merseyside Nerazzuri and play in an 85,000 capacity Bramley-Moore Stadium.

Jamie Crowley
64 Posted 29/04/2020 at 21:26:34
Phil - I actually agree!

Leave the screwed up sports landscape to us Yanks! We'll live with it. Don't let it pollute world football / European football!

Drew O'Neall
65 Posted 29/04/2020 at 21:33:00

Another reason to be turned off football as if one was needed.

Mike Gaynes
66 Posted 29/04/2020 at 21:33:06
"Atalanta (the one not in Georgia)"

Big laugh.

Peter Warren
67 Posted 29/04/2020 at 22:15:41
Can't see it happening. I don't think the Premier League would want it. The Premier League is huge and interest would be lost as a top 4 race brings a lot of interest and hope each year (although I'm a purist and think it should be for Champions only). They will not allow anything to dilute the Premier League's brand.

Anyway, top-flight football really is pissing me off every passing day – it's a parasite on society.

Andy Crooks
68 Posted 29/04/2020 at 22:19:16
I have never, not once, watched a Champions League game, even though they have been free on ITV. It is, to me, what professional wrestling used to be back in the day: a totally artificial concept.

I like the idea of local basic rivalry. Where top four is not the holy grail, where our league is not a magnet for money-grabbing hired hands.

Let them go, but make it clear that they will never, ever return. What a chance to get the game we love back and stop paying nonentities like Kean, Niasse, etc, money that – in the current climate – is a fucking obscenity.

Kristian Boyce
69 Posted 30/04/2020 at 00:53:47
Interestingly it says the English FA and not the Premier League.

Can you see the Premier League allowing this to happen – a devaluation of their prized asset???

Mike Galley
71 Posted 30/04/2020 at 05:25:57
Andy #68.

Yes. I couldn't agree more. If you're gone, then be gone.

I've seen comments about his on various news articles, websites etc saying if the vampire clubs need to come back, they can start in the bottom division. I'm sorry but, in my opinion, there should be no return option if this super league falls through!

Eddie Dunn
73 Posted 30/04/2020 at 09:04:55
There have been people determined to create a European Super League for a long time. This has probably been dealt a blow with the UK deciding to get out of the EU but the moneymen will do their damndest to ringfence their cash cows and maintain the status quo.

This is a precursor for a Euro league. It seems absurd that it should be mooted in the current health crisis. It all smacks of corruption. They have also got it completely wrong. Who wants to watch the same clubs playing each other? It gets boring.

It is the unpredictability of football (like Leicester winning the title) that makes it such a great game. The more they build-in measures to keep their favourites involved (like Champions League losers dropping into the Europa League) the less exciting is the result.

I would rather the so-called top 4 just fucked-off to a Euro Super League and we got a few teams up from the Championship. We would soon forget the others.

Tony Everan
74 Posted 30/04/2020 at 10:17:09
I don't think the elite will ever split from the Premier League, more likely they will want both. Bigger squads, more quality squads, with effectively 2 teams, playing in an expanded European competition alongside another quality B team playing in the Premier League.

I don't think they will just throw away an important revenue stream and massive financial safety net. They will want to maximise both streams, and will much more likely lobby to change the rules to best achieve that.

It's the anti-competitive rule changes that clubs need watch out for. They will come in all shapes and forms, is VAR one? Clubs like ours just outside the elite need to be on their guard.

Especially as clubs who will never get there may be indirectly financially courted by the elite to vote alongside them.

Rob Halligan
75 Posted 30/04/2020 at 10:19:23
As Eddie says, they would all soon get bored playing the same teams year-in & year-out.

An 18-team league, and one knockout cup competition. They play 34 league games, and those who get knocked out of the cup in the first round would play a maximum 35 games a season.

Away support would be non-existent, apart from playing a team from your own country. Nobody could afford to travel abroad every other week.

So yeah, bring it on!! Once you're gone, you're gone. No coming back and we wouldn't want you back.

See ya, Adios, Au Revoir, Arrivederci, Auf Wiedersehen!!

Michael Kenrick
76 Posted 30/04/2020 at 10:43:10
Good point, Phil @63. It's been my perennial fear that US-style names will be mandated for the Premier League teams, to replace the traditional and (for most) longstanding names we know and love (to hate, in some instances).

Yes, we've lost Newton Heath, Woolwich Arsenal, Small Heath, and a couple of others I'd have to ask John MacFarlane Snr to name for me, so I know it's possible we can move past changed names, I suppose... but it would be another massive and intolerable erosion of our historicity for me.

Oh, I was thrown a bit by your count of US teams... 32?
I think there are 26 MLS teams (3 of them are in Canada), but they keep expanding, so who knows? And the names you mentioned are USL teams (their Division II), where there should be 35 more by my count for the 2020 season. Sorry to be the pedant.

This totally bizarre thing about US sport is how a team will up sticks and move 'the franchise' to an entirely different city... blew my mind when they first explained it to me, asking why I didn't follow the Seattle Sounders now I lived in the Pacific Northwest? That's a whole other ethos too — you 'root' for your local team in your newly adopted home – not the one you grew up with thousands of miles away.

In the Great USA, Tradition is for the birds.

Ryan Payne
77 Posted 30/04/2020 at 11:07:38
Let's be honest: it doesn't really impact Everton, does it?
Patrick McFarlane
78 Posted 30/04/2020 at 11:12:42
Ryan #78,

How do you reckon that? Surely the whole point of Moshiri investing in Everton FC was to enable it to challenge the existing elite both domestically and on the continent.

From that perspective, anything which inhibits the progress of the club does impact Everton FC – even if our own efforts have failed to accomplish what was hoped for.

Jimmy Hogan
79 Posted 30/04/2020 at 11:36:57
"Protecting the revenue streams of Europe's top clubs". I couldn't believe that sentence when I first read it. It smacks of being an oligopoly, or a Cartel, as someone else on here has called it. The whole idea is an utter disgrace.
Billy Roberts
80 Posted 30/04/2020 at 13:16:54
Ryan @78

It would affect football as you know it indelibly. It would turn football as we know it upside down, so yes, it would affect Everton.

It is, as many posters have pointed out, the greedy plans of a self-serving cartel, absolutely against the ethos of sport and fair play.

It should be strongly opposed by anyone with a semblance of care for professional football.

Paul Jones
81 Posted 30/04/2020 at 14:55:47
Like mainstream sports in USA, this is more about having commercial "oligarch" owners model in place, were they have absolute control.

In the NFL they brought out a rule that "sports team" should be limited to their preferred franchise ownership model. So there would probably never be any place for a future community, fan ownership model.

This plan relegates those who have an interest in the game to consumers rather than fans.

Ernie Baywood
82 Posted 30/04/2020 at 15:25:38
Couldn't care less about watching the 'Champions League' if I'm honest.

My love of Everton is also becoming a bit weird. I don't really expect us to achieve anything yet I get excited when we win and disappointed when we lose. Affects my whole week. I spend half my life watching, reading or writing about games that are, in effect, inconsequential.

If this change were to come in, I'm not sure how it would impact us. Does it just takes away the 'one day maybe...' bit of hope? Surely that's gone already?

Jamie Crowley
83 Posted 30/04/2020 at 16:06:11
Michael -

you 'root' for your local team in your newly adopted home – not the one you grew up with thousands of miles away.

That's not entirely true. "Real" fans, like myself I'd boldly state, don't drop their allegiances due to relocation. I'm a Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins fan who was born in Boston but now lives in FL. I did "pull a Yank" and at the age of 18 became a Green Bay Packer fan having moved to the Great White North of Wisconsin. But I've then not rooted for another NFL team for 32 years, and never will.

Mike Gaynes is a Cubs fan. There's countless other examples.

The horde does bandwagon jump, and for those of us that take our sports seriously and akin to marriage, it's disgusting. So overall, you're correct in that Americans bandwagon jump like crazy. And yes, it is disgusting. Did I mention it's disgusting?

But be careful not to paint too broad a brush in a country of 362 million people. Some of us live through the good and bad, and are as loyal as a German Shepard (and as fierce, too).

People in and around Jacksonville often say to me, "You're not a Jags fan?" My immediate response is a simple one, brief which is a miracle for me, and to the point. "No way."

Kristian Boyce
84 Posted 30/04/2020 at 16:25:33
Michael, if you listen to any of the US coverage of the Premier League, you'll hear them sneak in the nicknames along with the team name. The British staff don't, like Rebecca Lowe and others, but in adverts and in other pieces, you'll hear it. It's cringeworthy hearing the Everton Toffees and Manchester Red Devils used to describe teams. I think they do it to ‘Americanize' the league for new fans to make it familiar to what they understand.

Jamie, my brothers-in-law roots for a new Premier League team every season. It's absolutely disgusting, and I refuse to talk to him about anything related to football. He is from WNY though and is a Bills fan, so that might have something to do with it.

Jamie Crowley
85 Posted 30/04/2020 at 16:41:46
Kristian is right - they do try and work in the nicknames a bit too much over here. Annoying as hell.

Kristian - stay the course and refuse to talk to your brother-in-law, that's ridiculous. How can you possibly have a team every year? There's zero emotional attachment. It's just dumb.

The Bills will win the AFC East this year, so buckle up for that brother-in-law to be just an unlivable nightmare. 😂

Jamie Crowley
86 Posted 30/04/2020 at 16:46:29
Kristian -

You poor bastard. I just re-read.

BrotherS-in-law. Plural. That's awful. I'll keep you in my prayers. 😉

Jim Wilson
87 Posted 30/04/2020 at 16:49:50
Time for a breakaway league of our own. The Premier League has stunk for years and VAR only confirmed this.

A top flight league without Liverpool would be perfect. So let the 4 clubs go and the rest of us can have a fair non-corrupt league!

Jay Harris
88 Posted 30/04/2020 at 16:50:15
There is no doubt the elite teams have become a worldwide brand so their market is no longer the long-suffering match-going fans. We are now talking audiences of around 500 million – not 30 or 40,000.

Our teams no longer belong to us, they belong to the world and the media. It's a sad state of affairs but money and lust for power and greed have driven associations, clubs and players to extract every ounce of income they can.

How many players play for the hell of it anymore? It has now become a case of who has got the best and latest bit of bling. So the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. What's new?

What do agents and the likes of Gordon Taylor bring to the game at vastly increased income for themselves. Even a pandemic hasn't managed to create more prudence or caring.

It is hard to see this situation changing... in fact, if this proposed monopoly is allowed to go ahead, I think I will resort to watching the kids play in the park – that is those that are not swept up into the academies.

Oh for some commonsense and decency.

Danny ONeill
89 Posted 30/04/2020 at 17:11:40
I wasn't a Jags fan either Jamie. I thought he was a good defender but the "Jagielka clip" used to frustrate me as he often aimlessly punted the ball forward without any intended outcome other than to give it back to the other team. I think he bought himself time with that penalty in the 2009 semi-final; he got more popular after that, even in my view.

Tongue in cheek by the way!! I spend a lot of time in the States, so have followed the discussion!!

We live in a much more transient world now but I don't buy the supporting the team in the area you now live rather than where you were born thread above.

I was born in Liverpool. My family come from Liverpool and many still live there. I spent time abroad as a child due to my father being in the Army and I followed suit, living & serving in many parts of the globe for long periods.

I eventually settled the family in London but I still support Everton because I always have done, just as my son, who has spent his childhood in Italy, Northern Ireland and the majority of it in London.

We don't support Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal or our closest geographical team, Watford. We support Everton because of the roots, the family connections and the subsequent emotional connection.

James Flynn
90 Posted 30/04/2020 at 18:36:55
"The Bills will win the AFC East."

Haha. Did Belichick just quit?

Charles Brewer
91 Posted 30/04/2020 at 19:59:01
What would be fun is if the RS and a few other cesspit teams disappear to play the finest teams from Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, and maybe even Scotland and Ireland as well as France, Italy and Spain, and it does a total Alan Stanford Cricket2020 and takes these clubs into bankruptcy after the rest of the English teams ban the return of these clubs.

As a few comments have shown, an awful lot of us couldn't care less about European football if Everton aren't involved (I'm not sure I have ever watched a "Champions" League match) and my only interest is enjoying seeing the RS result when they've lost. I have no idea (or interest) who won it last year or in any previous year.

The results of PSG vs Barcelona or Bayern Munich vs Rotivator Volgograd is as interesting to me as any US men's netball match when the New York Glanduar Cases beat the Washington Steroid Users 234-212.

I have some inklings that the manner in which the players, clubs and game administration have behaved in the past few weeks might just be the end of this game as we know it.

Jamie Crowley
92 Posted 30/04/2020 at 22:03:28

Very good! I, too, wasn't the biggest "Jags" fan.

Interesting story. Keep the Blue faith. And clearly I'm with you 100% on the rooting for your local team just because you moved there issue! It's garbage. Anyone I know that changes teams like they do boxers, I don't trust 'em. Expedient people have no loyalty; they are castles built on sand.


Belichick without Brady? Bills are totally on the rise and a good team. Bills for me. Watch out for the Tom-pa Bay Bucs too.

Jack Convery
93 Posted 01/05/2020 at 03:41:25
Investors like to protect their investment, hence this will come about – mark my words. Expel any English team from the Premier League that votes for this and ban them for at least 10 years. Let them have their closed shop and watch as audiences go down and grounds become empty because playing the same teams, season-in & season-out, will become boring and, as in so many Leagues, a top 3 or 4 will emerge and the others won't get a look in.

I hope the PFAs in every European country urge their members not to participate because it goes against everything football was meant to be about. Competition and the chance of glory.

Also, all football fans should organise to boycott it. Unless of course there are fans who don't want real competition – just the chance to say, "We're in it – you're not!" Mmm... I wonder who they may be?

Jack Convery
94 Posted 01/05/2020 at 03:47:10
The Bills will triumph hopefully.
Alan J Thompson
95 Posted 01/05/2020 at 06:28:42
Jack (#93); No, don't ban them for 10 years but let them back in at the lowest level after a play-off with the team that would have had that spot. Then let them take 4 or 5 years at least getting back to the Premier League where they will need to finish in the Top 4 for 3 or 4 years to qualify for European competition. In other words, hoist on their own petard.
Derek Knox
96 Posted 01/05/2020 at 09:51:58
Why is it when BBC News has any articles about the Premier League, they invariably show Liverpool? Are they the only team in it?
Shaun Robinson
97 Posted 01/05/2020 at 11:32:35
Derek @96. You think the BBC is biased, have a look at The Times sports section online. It seems to be run by the LFC public relations team. Any mention of the Premier League isn't complete without a photo of one of their players or manager. But the backlash has begun as there are plenty of people commenting on it now saying the same as you regarding the other teams.
Patrick McFarlane
98 Posted 01/05/2020 at 12:02:02
Shaun #97,

I had the misfortune to tune into CNN yesterday and, lo and behold, they had a feature on the lovable neighbours for no apparent reason. Then, later in the evening, they had a piece on the players and how they were helping out in the community in these perilous times.

By the way, I've heard how Trump constantly castigates CNN and, although I'm far from a fan of Trump, I have to agree it's more akin to a fanzine channel than a news outlet. Do FSG have shares in CNN?

As for the neighbours being omnipresent on any and every media outlet, I can only assume that they have a major advertising company such as Saachi and Saachi involved in promoting their brand.

George McKane
99 Posted 01/05/2020 at 12:45:05
Radio 5 Live held its first “606” phone in since the lockdown on Wednesday 29th. Of course the first caller was a Red, and of course not from Liverpool – I don't care really but it can't be coincidence... can it?
Shaun Robinson
100 Posted 01/05/2020 at 13:12:10
In the last week or so, The Times has done three “on this day” features. Two were about them and one about Man Utd. We also had an article about their ground not being finished until 2023. Klopp must have a part-time job with this paper.
Jim Jennings
101 Posted 01/05/2020 at 14:17:49
Michael Kenrick,

The 32 “football teams” he's talking about are NFL.

Shaun Robinson
102 Posted 01/05/2020 at 14:19:32
Another piece in The Times today is about Joe Anderson's comments. regarding them lot all congregating outside their ground if they do win the league. One or two RS fans in the comments say there is no evidence to support this view.

They have been reminded by loads of other people about their history of bad deeds, so maybe the tide is turning against them at last. That's only the public though, the media will still fawn all over them

Michael Kenrick
103 Posted 01/05/2020 at 14:56:41
Back to the Naming Game... I see the American contagion (probably shouldn't use that word) has taken over cricket's new (postponed) Hundred:

Birmingham Phoenix
London Spirit
Manchester Originals
Northern Superchargers
Oval Invincibles
Southern Brave
Trent Rockets
Welsh Fire

Writing on the wall... only a matter of time.

Chris Williams
104 Posted 01/05/2020 at 15:15:26

The Hundred has had to be postponed to next season. We've effectively moved from 60 overs to 55 to 50 (where we've just won the World Cup) to 40 to 20-over games to a 100-ball game, all part of shortening the game on an ongoing basis and squeezing out traditional cricket, and ultimately test matches. Television rights are part of this.

Another crass example of Sports Administrators knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

If this trend continues, all we'll be left with will be the toss-up. But it will be televised!

Charles Brewer
105 Posted 01/05/2020 at 15:52:16
Michael, I think Manchester Originals are taking a bit of a risk, there may be another team called The Originals, in which case they'd need to rename themselves "The Manchester New Originals".
Alan J Thompson
106 Posted 01/05/2020 at 15:53:45
Michael (#103); The Australian, New Zealand and South African Rugby Union competitions changed teams names to the Highlanders, Hurricanes, Sharks etc and now casual viewers haven't got a clue who is playing who. Marketing gone mad.

Chris (#104); Just a point, the 40-over game, the John Player League, came first and was played on Sundays between county sides.

Chris Williams
107 Posted 01/05/2020 at 16:01:27
Alan J, you're absolutely right! I used to love watching that, with some great John Arlott commentary, after a lunchtime pint or two.
Peter Neilson
108 Posted 01/05/2020 at 16:30:46
Loosely linked to European footy and naming "The Names Heard Long Ago: How the Golden Age of Hungarian Football Shaped the Modern Game" by Jonathan Wilson is a cracking book.

Like Half Man Half Biscuit, as a kid, I found some of the team names fascinating and still memorable. Worth a read if you get a chance.

Tony Waring
109 Posted 01/05/2020 at 16:50:58
I have not read the book, Peter (#108), but I well remember ducking off games on the afternoon we were taken to the cleaners 3-6 at Wembley.

What a fabulous team: Puskas, Hidekguti, Koscis, Grosics and others whose names I have now forgotten – well it's 67 years ago!

Wonderful to watch but sadly the momentum fell away eventually and they have never risen to the same heights since those years of the late fifties.

Alan J Thompson
110 Posted 01/05/2020 at 17:17:02
Chris (#107);

And the players looked like they enjoyed showing off shots they wouldn't think of playing in Test or County games. I remember Barry Richards, the South African opening bat, backing off to cut a ball and the bowler, seeing him move, bowled it 2 foot outside leg stump. He still cut it for four and it hit the fence before a fielder had moved, and all Arlott could say was, "Well, did you see that?"

Enjoyment in sport, whatever happened to that?

Peter Neilson
111 Posted 01/05/2020 at 17:33:26
Tony (@109), what a wonderful team to have watched, I've only read about them. Lots of that at the moment. I'm looking forward to the day when we can get back to the match and rejoice at a goal.
Chris Williams
112 Posted 01/05/2020 at 17:34:26
Alan J,

Yes, it seems a long way away now. I remember one game when it was stopped for rain, and they just let Arlott loose in the club museum for 30 minutes or so. He just went from display to display and talked about each one, its history and significance, completely extemporised and riveting.

I always thought he had the dream job for me. Cricket writer, Wine writer, travelling the world doing both. BBC Radio Poetry Correspondent, introduced Dylan Thomas to the BBC. Pipeman of the year and President of the Professional Cricketers Association, mentor of Basil D'Oliveira. A poet too.

Still envious now.

Mike Gaynes
113 Posted 01/05/2020 at 17:41:10
Michael #103, yes, I'm afraid it's a "viral" phenomenon. (Ugh.)

Jamie #83, thanks for the callout (go Cubbies!), but I disagree to a significant extent. I really do think most US sports fans are like you and me -- they establish their pro and college allegiances early in life and stay with them forever. Only the most casual bounce from one team to another based on moving to a new geography (or marrying a fan of another team).

The "bandwagon jumpers" drive me crazy too, but I define them differently. They're the ones who swarm out of the woodwork like roaches when the local team suddenly gets good, and then swear they were big fans all along. San Francisco fans are the worst -- I've seen it with the 49ers, the A's, the Giants and now the Warriors, teams that played for decades in front of vast tracts of empty seats before they became champions. Bay Area fans are better "hoppers" than kangaroos.

Alan J Thompson
114 Posted 01/05/2020 at 17:41:56
I remember Frank Bough interviewing Jackie Bond during a Lancashire game and he asked how he would go about telling off Clive Lloyd. Bond said it would never happen but Bough persisted and Jackie said,"Well, first off, I'd stand on Harry Pilling's shoulders..."
Mike Gaynes
115 Posted 01/05/2020 at 17:46:32
Alan J #110:

"...the South African opening bat, backing off to cut a ball and the bowler, seeing him move, bowled it 2 foot outside leg stump. He still cut it for four and it hit the fence before a fielder had moved..."

I understood exactly none of that.

There are four things my brain will never, ever comprehend -- quantum mechanics, string theory, the Mandarin alphabet, and cricket.

Chris Williams
116 Posted 01/05/2020 at 17:50:22
David Lloyd told the story about how a member was explaining to a guest about David and Clive Lloyd, not being brothers and said that the way to tell them apart was that Clive wore glasses.

Some really funny stories about Harry Pilling, who sounded a bit of a savage. About 5ft 3 but a hell of a batsman on his day.

Dave Abrahams
117 Posted 01/05/2020 at 18:03:55
Tony (109), what a team they were that Hungary team of the early fifties, we had never seen anything remotely as good as that side, for youngsters like I was, it was like a team from another planet, especially when Puscas closed in seemingly, by the corner flag, dragged the ball back with the sole of his boot and left Billy Wright (I think) wondering what he had done and where he had gone to, as marvellous Johan Cruyff's half-turn years later.

That game changed the English way of playing, players and managers started thinking of different methods of playing the game but not in time to stop Hungary battering England 7-1 in Budapest a few months after that 6-3 hiding.

Rob Halligan
118 Posted 01/05/2020 at 18:11:19
Come on, Mike, #115. That cricket shot is so easy to understand!!
Alan J Thompson
119 Posted 01/05/2020 at 18:14:12
Mike (#115); If your lot hadn't been in such a hurry, you could still be part of the Empire – then at least one of those would be a wonder rather than a mystery. A game would often continue at the bar in the pavilion long after everyone had given up on a result.

Chris, we could talk all night like this but I'll leave you with the thought that at least I had two games on the SCG and in one of them, my first over after lunch was a wicket maiden and the Umpire as he handed me my cap and sweater said, "Good over, Alan".

As usual, I thought, yeah from an Umpire and then I remembered he used to open the bowling for NSW and the week before from the same end he was standing with Dennis Lillee running in during an Ashes Test, but it mattered not the least.

Paul Tran
120 Posted 01/05/2020 at 18:20:03
Mike #115, I'm amazed that a man of your obvious intelligence can watch a game for five days and still not understand it.

Life is full of surprises.

Dave Abrahams
121 Posted 01/05/2020 at 18:28:45
Chris (107), what was great about John Arlott's commentary on a game was that he understood and loved cricket. I don't know if he ever played top-class cricket but he knew everything about it, enjoyed it, and made you enjoy with him.

I always thought the same of Peter Wilson writing about boxing and tennis for the Daily Mirror. If you never saw the actual fight or tennis match, reading Peter's description, it felt like you were in the ring with the boxers or on the court with the tennis players.

Jeff Spiers
122 Posted 01/05/2020 at 18:36:00
Derek @96.


Jeff Spiers
123 Posted 01/05/2020 at 18:44:41
May help to get that nasty taste of RS that we are getting. Try 'My Forest Story tube'. Some good humbling tales from ex-players.
Charles Brewer
124 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:05:03
A Canadian flatmate of mine in Edinburgh said he found cricket easier to understand once he understood that the two batsmen were on the same team.
Paul Tran
125 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:05:16
Good point, Dave #121, I'm not a big cricket fan, but I love reading Mike Atherton's writing in The Times.
Rob Halligan
126 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:15:57
Alan and Chris. One of the best one day knockout games I remember was Lancashire v Gloucestershire in the early '70s, in the old Gillette Cup.

In a semi-final played at Old Trafford, and Lancashire needing 20-odd runs in the final over to win, when I think it was David Hughes who came out to bat at around 8:45pm. With no floodlights back then, it must have been really difficult as a batsmen to pick up sight of the ball.

David Hughes scored the required runs to reach the final, and the field was invaded by thousands. Lancashire had a great one-day team back in the '70s, winning the Gillette Cup three years on the spin.

Chris Williams
127 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:19:19

I'm impressed and jealous. It's something to cherish.

Dave, Arlott never played cricket at first-class level, but it appealed to the poet in him. He also loved cricketers, because he reckoned they played a tough sport fairly and hard, without much recompense or recognition for the most part.

He said he could only remember two cricketers he disliked. It's why they made him the president of their union. He thought they had a generosity of spirit by and large.

His writing in The Guardian made him a brilliant successor to Cardus.

Brian Harrison
128 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:20:04
I think we have been lucky to have had so many great commentators in the world of sport. Who could forget Peter O'Sullivan on calling home the winners of many great races. How he kept his cool when his horse Be Friendly won the big sprint at Haydock, I don't know.

The great Richie Benaud for me the best cricket commentator of them all, while John Arlott with his West Country accent described things beautifully. The fact that Benaud had not only played at the highest level but also captained Australia gave him greater insight than the others.

Peter Allis, the voice of golf for decades, with a great wit in conjunction with great knowledge, having played the game at the highest level, including playing in Ryder Cup games. I always remember his quote about "Isn't it wonderful how a piece of string can keep 40,000 fans under control?"

Also, I can't forget the brilliant Kenneth Wolstenholme, for my money still the best football commentator. I can't think of another football commentator who, when some supporters ran on the pitch, would have used his line which is now world famous: "They think it's all over... it is now!"

A name that slips my mind was the BBC tennis comentator, really great cut-glass accent – he was perfect for tennis, no doubt it will come to me later. Then who could forget Kent Walton commentating on Wrestling.

I am sure there are many more specialist commentators I haven't mentioned but I am sure my fellow posters on here will remind me.

Brian Harrison
129 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:25:33
I knew when I pressed 'Submit your Comment', I would remember the tennis commentator with the cut-glass accent.

It was, of course, Dan Maskell.

Rob Halligan
130 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:27:26
Brian, Stuart Hall, commentating on It's a Knockout!

Absolutely brilliant!

Chris Williams
131 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:37:13

I remember that I watched it with my dad. When Hughes came out to bat, he complained to the umpire about the light. The umpire said "David, what's that up there?"

Hughes said "It's he moon."

The umpire said "How far do you want to see?"

Jay Wood

132 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:48:36
Here yer go, Rob.

Four-minute highlights of that memorable Lankie win in the Gillete Cup.


How times change! In commentary, it mentions that Lancs needed 27 off 7 overs – a big ask in those days – before Hughes slogged nearly all of them off one over.

There was a full moon beaming over the ground that night and when Hughes asked one of the umpires shouldn't they go off for bad light, was brusquely told:

"You can see the Moon, can't yer? How far do you want to see?"

I remember laughing at the time how the kids kept pushing in the boundary ropes to help Lancs.

And if I recall rightly, it was unprecedented for the BBC to interrupt their schedule, but I'm sure they delayed the start of that evening's BBC News to show the dramatic finale live.

Chris Williams
133 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:50:05
One of John Arlott commentaries on a Test Match between England, and I think South Africa, a bowler called Tufty Mann, a spin bowler was bowling to a batsman, I think, Charles Mann.

He didn't get a bat on it all the over, and was turned inside out, both sides of the bat.

Arlott: "That was an interesting over. Splendid bowling."

A pause

"Yet another example of Mann's inhumanity to Mann."

Dave Abrahams
134 Posted 01/05/2020 at 19:55:12
Brian (128), going back to boxing, Raymond Glendenning and Barrington Dolby were great boxing commentators. They did the famous Randolph Turpin versus the great Sugar Ray Robinson fight.

Glendenning also did the radio commentaries of the FA Cup Finals after the war for a number of years.

Alan J Thompson
135 Posted 02/05/2020 at 06:18:40
Rob (#126); I remember it well. Mike Proctor, the South African quick bowler was to bowl the last over. Jackie Bond was at the non-strikers end, I think, and went down to David Hughes and asked if he had a plan and Hughes replied, "If I see it, I'll hit it".

It was also the day the other semi-final had been washed out and that was to have been the broadcast game so the Lancs game had only Jim Laker who commentated the whole game on his own. They even had the pavilion lights on at the end.

Brian (#128); Not to forget Bill Maclaren's classic, "As the whistle blows for No Side." And my favourite cock-up was Whispering Ted Lowe who did the snooker. It was not long after colour TV had been introduced and Ted said, "For those of you without colour TV, the blue ball is the one behind the green."

Eric Myles
136 Posted 02/05/2020 at 06:53:21
Brian #128 "happy Thursday and Friday, see you Saturday"

I always disliked Boycott as a cricketer, as most of his team mates did apparently, but I think he's a wonderful commentator on the game.

Eric Myles
137 Posted 02/05/2020 at 07:04:02
Alan J #106, that really annoys me as I can't figure out where each team is from, and they've done it in England as well haven't they? Leeds Rhinos or something?
Alan J Thompson
138 Posted 02/05/2020 at 07:30:37
Eric (#137); At least we know where Leeds is but why did you pick them!

Remember to the tune of The Dambusters; "We all hate Leeds and Leeds and Leeds and...".

And don't you dare start the one about, "My Dad shot all the rhinos in Leeds..."

Unfortunately, I drink with a couple of Kiwis and a Zulu so they keep me advised who's who between races. Truth be known, I never liked Liverpool City becoming Huyton then Runcorn and I can't think of any franchisees who'd have moved to those high rolling centres.

Eric Myles
139 Posted 02/05/2020 at 08:50:34
Alan J, I only picked Leeds 'cos it's the only one I know but I think Runcorn has a 'name' also, I just can't remember it.
Derek Thomas
140 Posted 02/05/2020 at 09:21:32
Commentators? I used to like the Irish guy the BBC used to have on during the Grand National... I wracked my brains (not a long job) and all I could get was Milo O'Shea, but Mr Google came up with it: Michael O'Hehir.

He was doing the actual stage where the big pile-up occured in 1967. Just before the 'off', he was checking his runners and riders (Kursall Lad, Rondeto, Red Alligator – names that I still remember as soon as he mentioned them) and found one he couldn't recognise. In the end, it bugged him that much, he had to go over and ask the jockey who he was riding.

"Foinavon" he replied...

"But you're down as green?"

"No," said the jockey, "the owner changed it just before, thought it was unlucky."

Michael O'Hehir said he was glad he did, as he was the BBCs man on the spot when it all went to custard at the fence after Beechers. The embarrassment of not knowing the horse's name on live TV would've followed him to the grave.

Another voice of the sport was cycling's Phil Liggett.

I still contend that Wolstenholme's "Some people are on the pitch, they think its all over... It is now!" line, is one of, if not The greatest ever unscripted speechs in the English language. Up there with "Oh the humanity!"

Dave Abrahams
141 Posted 02/05/2020 at 10:29:53
Alan (138), to be honest, I didn't like Liverpool Stanley becoming Liverpool City but I get your gist.
Brian Harrison
142 Posted 02/05/2020 at 11:11:54
Dave @141,

Liverpool Stanley... weren't they the speedway team? My brother took me to watch them a few times, the only English speedway rider I can remember was Peter Craven... would that be right?

Andy Crooks
143 Posted 02/05/2020 at 11:16:29
Some wonderful cricket memories. For me, it died when BBC lost Test Cricket.

Does anyone recall Chris Tavare scoring 18 between lunch and tea? Proper cricket.

Alan J Thompson
144 Posted 02/05/2020 at 11:25:05
Dave (#141); I never knew that. I watched them once playing Rochedale Hornets and never been so bored, wet & cold but it was before the 6 tackle rule and I think the only game I've been to which wasn't faster than it appeared on TV.

Mind you, I'm not keen on Union these days as it seems a version of League, go for a run and when tackled the two blokes following stand over you as you stretch out behind with ball in hand, much like League's play the ball when tackled.

Where did Liverpool Stanley play? Knotty Ash comes to mind for some reason.

Alan J Thompson
145 Posted 02/05/2020 at 11:34:12
Andy (#143); That's how Test Cricket used to be and 200 runs for only 3 or 4 wickets down was considered a good day's play but that ended with the great Windies side under Clive Lloyd. The Aussies regard less than 300 runs in a day's play as failure.

And while they still stop for Lunch and Tea, gone is the rest day... what good times and happens in no other sport, even if you get a round in at every other end in Bowls.

Chris Williams
146 Posted 02/05/2020 at 11:42:50
Chris Tavare made Boycott look like Jos Buttler! God he was boring.

I fairness I could watch overs of Derek Underwood bowling to Boycott on a damp pitch with the ball not getting off the square. 2 craftsmen in a real battle of wits.

I've read that the bloke who was most responsible for increasing the run rate was Adam Gilchrist, coming in at number 7 and giving it some beans.

Uncovered pitches! I wonder how that would go down these days.

Lancashire used to have a wicketkeeper called Geoff Clayton, and he blocked out a Gillette Cup match once in protest at the opposition, Sussex I think, putting all their fielders on the boundary.

Sussex were captained by Ted Dexter, who got a really bad press in Peter Cook's autobiography.

Alan J Thompson
147 Posted 02/05/2020 at 12:10:52
Chris (#146);

The only excitement Tavare gave to the game was the Test when Border and Jeff Thomson very nearly pulled off the 93 (I think) run chase for the last wicket. I think they needed 3 to win and Thomson edged one to Tavare at 2nd slip. It went through his hands just over head height and Miller ran behind him to complete the catch.

I do seem to recall reading an article that stated that his County record was quite the opposite. Mind you, a few more Boycotts and David(?) Steele's and they wouldn't have lost quite as many Tests, something you'd have appreciated if you were in Oz during the Mike Denness tour in the '70s.

Boycott was a strange one as his early career he was quite free-scoring. Tony Davies once told the story about the MCC playing a one-day friendly during a stopover in Hong Kong. Davies won the toss and elected to bat. Only a couple of overs from the local trundlers and they started walking off. Davies ran out asking what was happening and was told that Boycott had appealed against the light. Davies asked him what he thought he was doing and Boycott replied, "You don't know what it is like to be great."

Eric Myles
148 Posted 02/05/2020 at 12:35:36
Alan J,

I remember from reading Botham's and Gower's autobiographies how they would try to get Boycott run out when they were at the wicket with him, so England would have a chance of winning the game.

The thinking was that Boycott played for himself and his stats, not for the good of the team.

There's a story about playing against an Indian spin bowler and Boycott saying he could spot his googly, but he wouldn't tell his teammates how to spot it.

Chris Williams
149 Posted 02/05/2020 at 12:40:29
Alan J,

Yes it was David Steele. Described by a well known Mirror journalist, coming out to bat against the West Indies, as being like a bank clerk going to war. I don't think it was Frank McGhee, but someone pretty well regarded at the time.

Yes, I've read that Boycott is not a popular character at all, and fairly unpleasant. I'd always thought it was because he came from Yorkshire!

I read a story by Henry Blofeld, about the tribulations of following a cricket tour of India, and the scourge of Delhi Belly.

He and a couple of his colleagues had been all over the place looking for something milder that wouldn't afflict them. They eventually found something milder which they called The Boycott Curry, on the basis that, although it would be slower and take longer, the runs would eventually come.

Aah, that public school humour!

Eric Myles
150 Posted 02/05/2020 at 13:06:02
Chris #49, but I found Boycott's down-to-earth 'Yorkshireness' and his comments about the game really interesting.

Things like the introduction of helmets for batsmen, “If he's too thick to duck then he shouldn't be at the crease.”

Andy Crooks
151 Posted 02/05/2020 at 13:14:58
The Deness tour in the seventies was like the infantry stepping out of the trenches. Denis Amis had to be cajoled into going to the crease. It was deadly stuff without helmets. Remember Colin Cowdrey, who must have been in his fifties, arriving to bolster the team.

Much to the dismay of his teammates, Tony Greig took great delight in winding up Lillee and Thompson. A late friend who kept wicket for Ireland back then, helped out at a practice session in London. He said the pace of Thompson was terrifying, clearing the boundary with a bouncer.

One of my favourite stories concerned the bias of local umpires in the warm-up games. Apparently, after three plumb LBW appeals were denied, the bowler (might have been Geoff Arnold) sent the stumps into the air with a yorker. The umpire turned to him and remarked "You nearly had him that time son".

Alan J Thompson
152 Posted 02/05/2020 at 15:55:01
Andy (#151);

During that tour, Tony Greig got Dennis Lillee, who was the last man, out with a bouncer and, as they were walking off, Amiss said to Greig, "I don't mind you getting him out but did you have to bloody upset him as well?"

If you want a good cricketing laugh, try Fred Truman's LP, The Umpire Strikes Back, especially the story of Alf Gover on the 1933(?) tour of India.

Jamie Crowley
153 Posted 03/05/2020 at 06:09:19

With all due respect. Any Americans on this site will agree. We so, so appreciate your love of cricket. But from our perspective we have our baseball. So we don't, and won't ever, care about your cricket.

But we respect your love of cricket because it entirely equates to our love of baseball.

Tony Abrahams
154 Posted 03/05/2020 at 06:43:07
When the English invent a sport, it becomes that popular that it ends up getting played all over the world, Jamie!
Eric Myles
155 Posted 03/05/2020 at 07:43:03
Actually Jamie, your love of baseball (and basketball, and ice hockey for that matter) stems from the English love of watching rounders, netball, and hockey — all girls games in England. While no bloke would play them, blokes enjoy watching them!
Alan J Thompson
156 Posted 03/05/2020 at 14:35:42
No more cricket stories and let's just go back to whinging about not being allowed to make a buck by all these selfish dead people.
Chris Williams
157 Posted 03/05/2020 at 14:44:30
Alan J,

Just one more?

Following on from the Delhi Belly story, on the same tour, at breakfast, the Times correspondent, looking pale and wan, confided that he'd broken the world record for relieving himself in a single night. But he felt that the record would not be ratified because it was wind assisted!

Alan J Thompson
158 Posted 03/05/2020 at 15:05:18
Chris(#157); Owzat, All Out.

Cheers, and as I said to my son on the birth of his third, In cricketing terms, it's time to pull the covers over.

Andy Crooks
159 Posted 04/05/2020 at 22:11:52
Sorry, Alan, but I cannot let this thread end without reference to Denis Lillee's aluminium bat and the distance he threw it when the magnificent Brierly (a man included in Arlott's all-time great eleven for his captaincy alone) challenged him.

By the way, thanks to Michael and Lyndon for their indulgence on this thread. The two of you have helped keep a lot of us sane. This site is a sanctuary.

Andy McGuffog
160 Posted 04/05/2020 at 22:49:49
Someone mentioned speedway and Peter Craven. If I remember rightly, he went to Ranworth Square School.

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