Uefa needs to get its hands off the PL


Blind Hammer looks at why UEFA and the Premier League should not sing from the same Hymn Sheet.

Politically I am pro-European. I thought, and continue to think, that Brexit was a case of amazing economic self-harm. Yet, in contrast, in football terms I am a little Englander, increasingly convinced that the dead hand of UEFA represents a real danger to our national game and Uefa needs to get its hands off the PL.

The facts are these. Across Europe football is in a slump with most clubs playing to lower crowds, in half empty stadiums, with little new interest from broadcasters. Clubs across Europe look on, with astonished envy, to the global penetration of the Premier League, with clubs filling out every increasing stadium capacities, and regular uplifts in broadcasting revenues.

Uefa needs to get its hands off the PL

Even middle or lower ranking PL clubs are economic powerhouses compared to most clubs in Europe. This is why it is the dream of most world footballers to play in the Premier League, why transfer fees in the premier league are greater than in the rest of Europe combined, and why the Premier League hovers up the cream of the world’s footballing talent. 

Unfortunately, clubs like Juventus did not only look on with astonished envy but actively plotted to abandon their moribund leagues and attempted to form a more glamourous European super league. This was a desperate and transparent attempt to try and re-direct the broadcasting lucre, currently funnelled into the PL, into their breakaway league by incorporating “EPL big fish like Man United.

The result was the fiasco of the failed super league. This ridiculous idea was rightly shot down and those PL clubs who contemplated joining suddenly scuttled back into line rather than jeopardising their existing Golden Goose. Despite this fiasco, UEFA are still determined to mollify these disconcerted Euro clubs, even now, enviously resenting the riches of the PL.

Their proposed solution is to trim down and diminish the importance of national leagues and increase the range of European competitive fixtures to create a virtual European super league by stealth. UEFA has increased champions league fixtures and even created, to West Ham’s benefit, the Europa Conference League. UEFA is muting though, reducing national leagues sizes even further to make room for all these new fixtures.

So firstly, UEFA insisted that the Premier League had to be reduced from 22 to 20 clubs. Now it seems that UEFA wants to cut its leagues across Europe even more, reducing each national league to 18 clubs with only two relegation places. We need to completely reject this.

Unlike moribund European leagues, England is bristling with clubs with Premiership potential. Not just clubs like Leicester and Leeds, but also many clubs in the Championship will have “big club” Premiership potential. West Bromwich Albion would create immediate interest with their return to the with twice season derbies against Wolves and Aston Villa.

Even clubs who departed the PL some years ago, like Birmingham City, and Sheffield Wednesday have both the fan base and rivalry traditions to re-invigorate interest. The re-emergence of Yorkshire and Midland Derbies as used to be common in the old twenty-two team league would provide persistent derby excitement.

This is why I would not only resist UEAFA pressure to cut national leagues, but also support a return to a twenty-two club Premiership, whilst retaining 3 up and 3 down. This would make the ridiculous jeopardy, which paralysed half the league last season, resulting in an epidemic of managerial sackings and providing no environment for clubs like West Ham to blood and introduce exciting new talent, far less likely.

If any fixtures need to be trimmed to accommodate the growing European fixture burden, it should come in the early rounds of the league cup, with an extra bye added to the existing bye for clubs already competing in Europe. So, hands off our Premier League, UEFA,, we don’t need your envy and interference.

David Griffith

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My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph.

My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season.

I became a season ticket holder in 1970.

I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle.

I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel.

David Griffith aka Blind Hammer