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How to improve Europa league

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Sevilla's Europa League win netted them four times less what Real Madrid earned in the UCL. That imbalance must be fixed.

 

 

 

The Europa League is a bit like a relationship with a significant other who adores you but whom you take for granted and would secretly love to dump for someone better-looking. And so you call them a nag and point out the ways they annoy you. Yet at the end of the night, if you can't do any better, you settle.

That's the struggle the Europa League faces. Clubs in it would rather be somewhere else and when they perform poorly in their day job (their domestic league), it's the Europa League's fault. Just ask Mauricio Pochettino. Throw in a media (especially in England) that consistently derides the competition and it becomes the ugly stepchild in the attic.

Some of the anti-Europa League arguments are inevitable. A portion of participants are clubs who view themselves as Champions League-caliber sides and therefore feel they're slumming it. Another chunk are smaller teams who qualified because of an unlikely exploit and now find their squad stretched and their league form suffering: think EAG Guingamp in France, through to the knockout phase of the Europa League but bottom of Ligue 1 as recently as early December.

But some of the criticism is just foolish. No, it doesn't generate the TV audiences that the Champions League does but in many countries, it's the only chance to see a top club side on TV in midweek. And the TV ratings and attendance are nowhere near as low -- relative to the numbers in the domestic league -- as you would think.

The obvious difference with the Champions League is money. UEFA generates revenue by selling broadcast and commercial rights before redistributing it among participants. Starting next season, 60 percent is distributed as prize money (the further you advance, the more you get) and 40 percent as part of the "market pool." Under the "market pool," participating teams receive a proportion of the value of their country's broadcast rights. So, for example, if you're a club from Portugal (which has a smaller TV deal) you'll receive -- all things being equal -- less than one from Germany, which has a more lucrative contract.

What all this means is that last season, Sevilla won the Europa League and received $15.4 million ($5.5 million from the "market pool" and $9 million in prize money). Real Madrid won the Champions League and banked $63.2 million, more than four times as much: $22.6 million from the market pool, $40.6 million in prize money.

UEFA recognize that a more lucrative Europa League will help pique interest, and from next year, the Europa League pot will indeed increase a whopping 64 percent (the Champions League pot is only going up by 26 percent, suggesting some level of cross-subsidy). But there's only so much they can do.

So here are a few modest proposals to spruce up the Europa League further. Feel free to add your own in the comments but please bear two things in mind: any change to the format has to take into account that clubs want to make money from it. The romantic idea of a mega knockout competition like the old-style UEFA Cup is nice, but it doesn't guarantee revenue. That's why you need the group stage.

And please don't just advocate eliminating it altogether, either. The game is already skewed enough towards the superclubs and for many who will only ever experience the Champions League quarterfinals on TV, this is a big deal. And it can be an even bigger one.

 

 
ESPN FC's Mark Donaldson discusses Napoli's chances of winning the UEFA Europa League following their 6-3 aggregate win over VfL Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals.

 

1. Play on Tuesday nights

There's a natural rhythm to the football week: domestic game on the weekends followed by Champions League on Tuesday and Wednesday. By the time the Europa League rolls around on Thursday, many are worn out. Flipping it around -- Europa League on Tuesdays, Champions League on Wednesday and Thursday -- allows you to build up to the main event. The idea is that hardcore football fans will be psyched to watch Europa League on Tuesdays and while they may still be worn out come Thursday, the prospect of Real Madrid or Arsenal will be enough to overcome their football fatigue, certainly more so than the Europa League.

 

 

There are already plenty of top clubs in Europe's secondary competition, but a slight format tweak could help even more. 2. Keep the Champions League dropouts separate

 

 

Every year the eight third-place finishers drop into the Europa League. Many don't like this and say it contributes to the competition being seen as second-rate; this is a silly argument because relative to the Champions League, it is and would be even if clubs did not drop down.

The fact of the matter is that it's a necessary evil. It provides clubs an incentive to finish third in their Champions League groups: scoff all you like, but last year the eight dropouts shared close to $20 million between them for their Europa League participation. It also makes the package more attractive to broadcasters because among the dropouts you could well get clubs that are a huge TV draw.

However, rather than putting them into the main draw for the round of 32, have them play each other in the usual knockout format with the winner advancing to the semifinal.

This would have two beneficial effects. You'd be guaranteed a couple of marquee matches in the round of 32 and round of 16 (or the quarterfinal and semifinal for Champions League drop-outs); this season it might have been Roma vs. Ajax, Liverpool vs. Zenit or Athletic Bilbao vs. Sporting. And you would logically be guaranteeing that three of the four Europa League semifinal slots would go to teams who have been there from the beginning. That helps provide a greater incentive, as it makes it marginally easier to advance in the competition and win more prize money, thereby redistributing the wealth.

3. (The big one) Regionalise the group stage

There's no escaping it: nobody likes the 12-group format. But what they really don't like is the travel.

This season, Saint-Etienne got to travel to Milan (easy), Dnipropetrovsk (not so easy) and Baku, Azerbaijan. Belgian side Lokeren went to Warsaw, Trabzon and Kharkiv. Needless to say, it's a tough sell for everyone. These are tricky journeys for the players (the vast majority of these clubs can't afford to charter planes) and expensive for fans (let alone on a "school night").

So instead, take the 48 clubs from this season's groups and split them geographically into four regions. I nerded out and actually did this.

 

Southwest: Villarreal, Estoril, Rio Ave, Seville, Napoli, Fiorentina, Torino, Inter, Rijeka, Dinamo Zagreb, Saint-Etienne and Young Boys.

 

Southeast: Apollon Limassol, Trabzonspor, Qarabag, Besiktas, Asteras Tripolis, Panathinaikos, PAOK, Partizan Belgrade, Steaua Bucharest, Astra Giurgiu, Zurich and Red Bull Salzburg

Northeast: Slovan Bratislava, Legia Warsaw, Sparta Prague, Dynamo Kyiv, Dnipro, Metalist Kharkiv, Kuban Krasnodar, Dynamo Moscow, HJK Helsinki, Dinamo Minsk, Copenhagen and Wolfsburg

 

Northwest: Celtic, Everton, Tottenham, Feyenoord, Club Brugge, Lokeren, Lille, Guingamp, Standard Liege, Borussia Monchengladbach, AaB Aalborg and PSV Eindhoven

It's an imperfect science and maybe you'd want to tweak the regions based on transportation logistics. But the bottom line is that, by doing this, you're drastically cutting down on travel times, which is good for players and for supporters.

 

Club Brugge lost in the quarterfinals, but streamlining team travel could play a role in fixing the competition.

 

The other benefit is familiarity. If teams of a certain level keep facing each other year on year, storylines and rivalries develop. And if it means having more than one team from the same country in the same group, so be it. It's not a tragedy. We'll live.

On paper, some regions are obviously stronger and more appealing than others but I don't think it's a problem. You'll get more box-office games in wealthier regions and that will drive up TV revenue (which, of course, gets shared around). Fans of Kuban Krasnodar, for example, won't get to visit London to play Spurs. But they will get the benefit of a somewhat easier path into the knockout round and a potentially better game.

Ultimately, the purpose of the group stage is to whittle 48 teams down to 24 while playing enough games to generate interest among the fans and provide enough hours as possible of programming for the broadcasters. Regionalisation does this far better than the current system.

 

 

 

This popped up on my fb feed. Thought it give it a read


Thoughts

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All them ideas are terrible

First of all id cut it down to 36 teams and scrap cl drop outs in the knock outs

Then all them Eastern european pub teams that dont qualify for the groups can just play for a new inter toto cup in a knock out format on a thursday

Secondly id move all the games to 6pm kicks offs on tues and weds, could be seen as a warm up for the cl later on at 8pm

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Would probably piss me off to see Spurs/Liverpool vs Ukranian pub team on a Tuesday

No sir

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Would probably piss me off to see Spurs/Liverpool vs Ukranian pub team on a Tuesday

No sir

would piss them off more being taken for an undercard :lol:

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There's a natural rhythm to the football week: domestic game on the weekends followed by Champions League on Tuesday and Wednesday. By the time the Europa League rolls around on Thursday, many are worn out. Flipping it around -- Europa League on Tuesdays, Champions League on Wednesday and Thursday -- allows you to build up to the main event. The idea is that hardcore football fans will be psyched to watch Europa League on Tuesdays and while they may still be worn out come Thursday, the prospect of Real Madrid or Arsenal will be enough to overcome their football fatigue, certainly more so than the Europa League.


 


swear this will put the champions league teams in d same predicament as the europa mandem in regards to rest cycle, breaks between games?


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I like the 5/6pm kick offs on tues/weds as a warm up to champions league

Obviously more money in the pot is essential

They done well to make the winner gets a cl place

The regional thing could work if it was just east/west or north/south like the nfl have the east and west winners both get a champions league place and then have like a super final east vs west

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They should just stop fucking about with this Champions league lite thing, straight knock-out comp from the start, The reduced amount of games might get teams interested.

 

The expansion of the Champions league has done it over too, as has already been said people are worn out.

 

I don't know where people get the time to watch Premiership, Spain, PSG, Bayern and Dortmund CL league and Europa whilst holding down a job and a social life and feel able to talk about any of those teams with a degree of knowledge or credibility.   

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Too much money in CL Football now.

 

Should go back to the old format. Champions League. Uefa Cup. Cup Winners Cup.

 

The latter 2 being knock out competitions.

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Knock out comps, there wouldnt be enough games like the article said. 

 

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This competition cannot be saved

How is one semi-final live but the other one isn't ?

:/

Semi-Finals should of been played@5 on Tuesday and Wednesday before The CL Semis were@7:45

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