While the Aughts have been full of speculation/proposal about the Old Firm joining the EPL, the 90’s was about the Old Firm joining what was dubbed as the Atlantic League. It was a joint proposal from the big clubs in the Netherlands, Scotland and Portugal. ESPN is reporting that there may be another attempt at this break away league, which would involve the aforementioned clubs along with Belgium and the Scandinavian clubs.
I’m all for tradition, but I like the idea of this league.
For one reason, historic clubs such as Ajax, Celtic, Rangers, Porto (Mourinho-era aside), Sporting, Benfica, PSV, Anderlecht and FC Copenhagen have no hope of competing in the Champions League any longer as they are financially dwarfed by the clubs in the big six leagues of Europe. These are massive clubs and don’t deserve to become also-rans because of the size of their country’s population.
For another Scandinavia, which once produced clubs that could cause an upset in Europe, have been reduced to two clubs in the Europa League. Norway and Sweden, which produce many talents for other clubs, haven’t had a team in the knock-out stages since the mid-90’s. Both confederations sit in the 20’s in the coefficient rankings. And Denmark hasn’t been much better, although they do typically have a team in the group stages.
If Michel Platini is about strengthening these leagues, then allowing smaller countries to consolidate to fight the money and populations of Italy, Spain, France, England, Russia and Germany is only fair. And with German clubs again complaining about the 50+1 rule, as was discussed here earlier, such a change would only help push the Netherlands, Scotland, Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, Norway and Sweden further adrift.
Finally, if a breakaway league can be formed for these countries, it could provide a blue-print for the Eastern European nations that find themselves in the same position.
And it’s not like we haven’t had this before. The old Yugoslavian league during the Communist era was essentially the same thing being proposed, and was competitive in Europe without the availability of foreign transfers.
If they could set up a league, perhaps even with two tiers, it could gain enough popularity to rival Russia or France, which are broadcast widely. They could have relegation and promotion with a two tier system. And for the second division, teams could drop back to their country’s league system if they finished in the bottom three. Say Hibs came in last in league 2, they could be replaced by Aberdeen, the winner of the SPL. This could work if it were just one league, too. The question would be, how many teams would be allowed into the Champions League. This new league might need to be given a fifth slot to account for the eight countries.
Think about this league:
Valerenga (included because I love them)
That would be a highly competitive league with historical clubs oozing out of it’s pores. It would take place in eight countries, two teams each for the 5 million nations and 3 each for the 10 million nations. The league would encompass a population of 67 million people, taking it past Italy, Spain, England and France. And other than travel to Portugal, would rarely compete with the travel involved in an Bayern-Hamburg match. Linguistically, it would entail Dutch, Danish, Norweigian, Swedish, Finnish, English, French and Portuguese. However, the Scandanavian countries can communicate as their languages are so similar, except for the pronunciation differences from Danish to Swedish. 25% of all Finns speak Swedish as well. Walloonia speaks Dutch. And to be perfectly honest all of the aforementioned nations, speak better English than the Scots 😉 So really we are talking about a league that could concentrate on English and Portuguese.
By the way, the Gaffer may soon be seeking an AtlanticLeagueTalk writer 🙂
*Population notes: Belgium 10.5 Netherlands 16.5 Portugal 10.7 Sweden 9.2 Denmark 5.5 Norway 4.7 Finland 5.5 Scotland 5