Super clubs dominate European leagues. Fans of smaller teams in those leagues will feel more strongly about borrowing the concept of a salary cap. Though you will not find agreement on what is the best league in the world, most soccer fans hold strong opinions about what their favorite league lacks as compared with other leagues around the world.
While the structure of leagues develop for a variety of historical and economic reasons. I have assembled best practices in four key areas from leagues around the world. My efforts are to create the ultimate soccer league.
Depending on the number of teams in the league, my ultimate soccer league will have playoffs. The best 4-8 teams at the end of the season will determine who wins the league title.
European leagues have history and tradition. The model of regular season results providing seeding for a do-or-die postseason has several benefits over the European, points-driven model.
Late season drama in a post-season knockout competition is severely lacking when you have runaway leaders of leagues. It would certainly add excitement to current league races. In England and Scotland, for example, top teams will get one more bite at the apple to take home the title.
Though soccer purists may argue that the league table provides the most accurate measure of the “best” team, you only need to look at Manchester City’s recent result against Liverpool to question whether they are, in fact, the best team in England.
Promotion / Relegation
Ask any Major League Soccer fan what the league could do to improve. They will likely chew your ear off with why promotion/relegation would be a welcome addition to U.S. professional soccer.
The ultimate soccer league and its lower level leagues would provide for a system of the top/bottom 2-3 teams to be promoted and relegated between divisions.
In regards to integration of lower level leagues, the European soccer structure is far superior to the U.S. The promotion/relegation system provides excitement at the top and bottom of each league and year-to-year change in terms of the teams that play each other.
With the title race all but over in England, I for one can’t wait to see a team like Southampton claw its way out of the relegation zone or Huddersfield Town secure survival. No doubt the celebrations will put the title winning parade in Manchester to shame.
Let’s face it, watching two teams like Paris St. Germain versus Metz play is not the tastiest fixture in soccer. A salary cap for this new league concept would help to ensure a degree of parity throughout the league.
Still, there’s something attractive about watching teams who have spent gobs of money compete. If U.S. sports are any indication, however, you would still see loaded teams and dynasties emerge within a salary cap structure because teams distinguish themselves in other ways – coaching, location and tradition – to attract the best players.
As U.S. soccer teams get more involved in the youth landscape, the draft system is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Top teams are signing talent straight from their youth academies in much the same way as European clubs. Still, to allow poor performing teams to jump start their recovery, the draft system for incoming talent is an effective tool.
Last but not least, possibly the toughest decision on the list focuses on youth development. In order to protect local talent, I’d propose a limited number of local players that can be “tagged” by a club as exempt from the draft. Otherwise, entry-level talent should come through a draft pool that each team can access through the draft.
What are your thoughts on my ideas? And what ideas do you have from other leagues that would make the ultimate soccer league the best in the world? Let us know in the comments section below.
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