It’s a Knockout Cup anyone? How Uefa might sate its competition thirst | Marina Hyde | Football

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It’s a Knockout Cup anyone? How Uefa might sate its competition thirst | Marina Hyde | Football
It’s a Knockout Cup anyone? How Uefa might sate its competition thirst | Marina Hyde | Football


Set your sights on adventure, because there is some highly called-for news out of Uefa. The governing body of European football has identified a yawning gap in the market: there is simply not enough European football. To this end, it is planning to launch a third European club competition. According to the president of the European Clubs Association, Andrea Agnelli: “The current model needs modernising.”

Naturally. I don’t know what is carved above the lintel at Uefa HQ, but assume it is whatever is the Latin for “If it ain’t broke, break it”. Or as Agnelli put it: “The green light has been given to introduce a third competition.” (On a side note, incredible to think since it is a full nine years since the Guardian’s Fiver launched its groundbreaking Stop Football campaign, with all the attendant success you’d expect from that most beloved of tea-timely emails.)

Tantalisingly, there are as yet no details of the form this battle minor-royale would take, other than Uefa’s implicit assumption that it would be another money gusher. And why wouldn’t it? Football is like the fossil fuel of sport: there really is no end to the consequence-free profits that can be mined or drilled from it, no matter how ruthlessly you exploit the opportunity. I expect that’s why so many petrochemical billionaires – and indeed petro-states – are drawn to it these days. Honestly, what’s the worst that can happen?

Into Uefa’s vacuum, then, let us introduce the flammable gas of suggestion, with some ideas for the competition you didn’t know you needed. And, indeed, don’t need – but are no doubt getting anyway.

The Uefa Cup Losers’ Cup

Agnelli’s claim that Uefa wishes to modernise means there can be no return to its much-tolerated Cup-Winners’ Cup. However, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, stopping Uefa sating the deep need for a competition designed to determine who would beat whom out of the sides who lost cup finals – and this nine-month, leg-by-leg thrill ride promises to put you right inside the action. Sponsored by the European Central Bank.

The Wintertoto Cup

Assuming the Premier League does eventually sign up to a two-week winter break, this competition would work on the “a change is as good as a rest” principle. The break would consequently be used for more football, in the form of a high-intensity, low-prestige two-week knockout tournament between whichever sides are deemed least watchable by neutrals.

It’s A Knockout Competition

Exactly the same as the Champions League, except with every player dressed as a giant vegetable.

The Uefa VAR-WARS Cup

Likely to be swiftly nicknamed “the Euro Vars”, this serves as a sort of constructors’ championship for football, with all the soulful sporting magic the comparison suggests. Two remote video refereeing rooms play each other to get to a decision first, in a series of nail-biting, atmosphere-draining pauses. Amazon is set to buy all of the nine rights packages for a total of £1.2bn.

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The Championships League

A format that is at once as self-explanatory as it is inexplicable. In this case, the high concept would be to expand the offer of European football beyond the top flight’s top clubs, and the top flight’s middling clubs, and the top flight’s bottom clubs, all the way down to the best of the rest. In order to convey the requisite level of box office, the iconic Champions League anthem would be only slightly reworked, with the climactic chorus now running: “Die Meister of the Second Tier! Die Second Besten! Les Best-of-the-rest Equipes! The Championships!”

Uefa Relegatees League

Finding yourself dropping down out of the top league is no longer a bar to European football; instead, it’s a way in. In this competition, getting relegated constitutes the start of a long and energy-sapping journey that could even hasten your trajectory towards the third tier. Still, worth it for the telly money, apparently.

The Uefa Football Managers Footballer Manager Cup

In this state-of-the-art tournament for the post-football era of football, leading European football managers play each other at Football Manager. ITV announces its first all‑teen commentary team. Tim Lovejoy anchors.

The Arsenal Cup

Believed to be the world’s first cup competition in which only one team (Arsenal) competes. Though Arsenal are likely to leave themselves with everything to do in the second leg, the eventual triumph should spare the nation 937 hours of angry radio phone-ins, 432 miles of portentous column inches, and 84 hectares of bedsheets.

The Uefa Open

It is surely only a matter of time before the powers that be realise they have somehow failed to monetise the popular post-training pastime of so many of European football’s biggest names. The Uefa Open would be a series of Ryder Cup-style golf matches between Europe’s leading club sides. Actually, hang on: why not go the whole hog and pit Uefa against MLS? I think we should probably be ruling things in rather than out at this stage.



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