...Only this time it's not in the transfer market. In a big weekend for sport (Wimbledon, Lions, Tour de France and Ashes warm-ups), Florentino Perez did his bit to keep football on the front pages of the sports pages by demanding a change to the current Champions League format. He's asked for a new format that guarantees 16 big clubs a place in the competition - however they perform in their domestic league, and that ensures the big clubs will consistently play each other (rather than minnows from across Europe). He has indicated he will push for a breakaway "closed shop competition" if UEFA refuse to consider his proposal, and has commented that he hopes his format can be implemented "without abandoning the national leagues".
To Perez's way of thinking, the big clubs that would quialify for this special treatment are: Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester Utd, Chelsea (phew), Liverpool, Arsenal, Inter, AC Milan, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Lyons, Porto, Celtic, Rangers and Olympiakos. In some ways a strange list - after all, Madrid have qualified for the CL in each of the past 12 seasons without any special favours, and Celtic and Rangers have rarely had to beat off strong Scottish competition for their places in the competition. Are Madrid in such a bad financial place that they need guaranteed Champions League places, and guaranteed revenue from huge games? And who made Perez God anyway?
It seems unlikely that this will go ahead so there's little need to worry about it right now, but my gut instinct is that this is truly terrible idea. You can either view it as a pointless endeavour to set in stone something that's already pretty much set in stone, or much worse, as an attempt to maintain the current status quo into the future and forever more. If we'd completed an exercise like this just ten years ago, Chelsea certainly wouldn't be in the list, and Ajax probably would be. This wouldn't have been good for Chelsea, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be good for football either. Whatever level you play at, football is about dreams. The dream of beating your greatest rivals, winning a Cup, getting promoted, avoiding relegation, turning over the tournament favourites, or winning the league. If we fix the list of those who get to play, without any room for change, we take away the chance to dream, and that would be the end of the football as we know it.