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Seedorf sees the changing face of European football

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Chris Bevan | 07:49 UK time, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

It is just short of 16 years since Clarence Seedorf got his hands on the Champions League trophy for the first time, part of a youthful Ajax side that seemingly had Europe at its feet for many seasons to come.

As we now know, things did not quite turn out that way.

Seedorf certainly lived up to his vast potential, becoming one of the most decorated footballers in the history of the game. He has won domestic titles in Spain and Italy as well as tasting further Champions League success with Real Madrid and AC Milan (twice). Still only 34, the Dutch midfielder has achieved the unprecedented feat of becoming champions of Europe with three different clubs.

For Ajax, on the other hand, it is something of an understatement to say they have had a lot leaner time of things since that memorable night in Vienna.

They got as far as the final the following year and reached the semi-finals in 1997. Since then, though, they have been as far as the quarter-finals only once - in 2003. When they made this season's group stage, it was for the first time in five years. They failed to make it through to the next round, finishing third behind Madrid and Seedorf's AC Milan side.

There are many reasons for Ajax's decline as a continental force but their relatively limited finances is probably the biggest.

Seeing as he was the first of five members of that all-conquering team of 1995 to depart on a Bosman free transfer, it is probably no coincidence that, when I asked Seedorf what has changed most about football during his playing career, he replied: "Money. It has definitely played a bigger and bigger role over the years."

The Ajax players celebrate after their 1995 Champions League triumph

The Ajax players celebrate after their 1995 Champions League triumph. Photo: Getty

I found it fascinating to quiz Seedorf, who I interviewed regularly when he spent last summer's World Cup as a BBC pundit, about how football has developed. Here is a thoughtful man who has spent his whole career playing for some of the world's biggest clubs under most of the finest coaches of his generation, like Guus Hiddink, Fabio Capello, Louis van Gaal, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Marcello Lippi and Carlo Ancelotti.

The Surinam-born Dutch international feels his sport has also altered on the pitch as well as off it - and not necessarily for the better.

"Games have become more intense and faster," he explained. "And there are a lot more of them, too. Because of that, there are more injuries."

He suggested a quick fix for that problem when I asked how he thinks the game might develop over the next decade-and-a-half, saying: "I can foresee less matches. I think there will be changes made because the quality is not improving. There are hundreds and hundreds of games played but I think people would like to see 50 very good ones instead, with players performing at their best physically and mentally."

And Seedorf also had an idea for making clubs like Ajax, who do not play in a rich domestic league and lack wealthy benefactors, truly competitive in Europe again, too.

Uefa hope to promote a level playing field through their controversial Financial Fair Play initiative, designed to force clubs who qualify for the Champions League or Europa League to spend only what they earn.

Seedorf, however, feels a further step is needed in order to balance out the inequality in TV money between, say, the Premier League and Dutch Eredivisie, which consequently affects the salaries that respective teams can offer players.

"For the likes of Ajax to win the Champions League again is going to be very difficult," Seedorf said. "For that to happen in the future, there will be a need for them to get into a European league. I don't think teams from smaller countries will be able to compete otherwise. But if that can change, then who knows.

"Clubs need to make sure they are solid financially. Then, if they install a good business model and get the technical aspect right - make a choice on a project or a manager and build long-term - they will be able to compete again at the highest level.

"The big thing for Ajax now, though, is to keep their best young talent for a bit longer. We were a very young side in 1995, with a couple of older players in the team. It was the right combination. Of course, you need a bit of luck, too."

Can it be done? Maybe.

Seedorf points to last year's finalists Bayern Munich as an example of a club who may not have the same spending power as teams from England, Spain and Italy but who still regularly manage to progress deep into the Champions League.

Last season was the fifth time the German giants had reached the quarter-finals or better since winning the competition in 2001.

Bayern are not having a particularly successful season in the Bundesliga but they hold a 1-0 lead over 2010 Champions League winners Inter Milan ahead of Tuesday's second leg. GIven they are within touching distance of the quarter-finals, it was something of a surprise that Bayern announced last week that manager Van Gaal, Seedorf's boss at Ajax, would be stepping down at the end of the season.

Seedorf and Kaka kiss the Champions League trophy after Milan's second triumph under Ancelotti in 2007

Seedorf and Kaka kiss the Champions League trophy after Milan's triumph in 2007. Photo: Getty

Still, Seedorf believes Bayern have demonstrated how it is possible for clubs to make the most of their resources.

"It is not always necessary to have the best players to be able to compete with the best," he said. "Bayern are not the most talented side in Europe - if you compare them with Barca, Real or Inter they just don't have the same quality of players - but this season they have done well in the Champions League, the same as they do most seasons.

"The reason they are so consistent is that they have a great structure and technical vision, and are disciplined in the choices they make with their manager and players."

So who does Seedorf think will conquer Europe this year?

Well, I spoke to him before his side's elimination from the competition at the hands of English side Tottenham last week, when he still held out hope of winning a fifth Champions League for himself.

There was, however, a strong San Siro flavour to his other choices.

Among them was Chelsea, managed by Ancelotti, another of his former bosses. The Blues hold a 2-0 lead over FC Copenhagen ahead of Wednesday's return at Stamford Bridge and look virtually assured of a quarter-final place.

"Chelsea are underdogs [to win the Champions League] if you look the season they are having," said Seedorf. "But I actually think they are quite dangerous now, having seen Ancelotti's quality with Milan. Often he was in difficulties in Serie A but we still did very well in the Champions League, so we should watch them carefully."

Manchester United also have a good chance, according to Seedorf, but it is Real Madrid, another of his former clubs, that he believes could come out on top.

Having triumphed last year with Inter and also with Porto in 2004, Madrid boss Jose Mourinho - like Seedorf - is clearly a man who knows what it takes to win the biggest prize in European football.

The Portuguese is supposedly unhappy at Madrid but can he deliver the Champions League to the Bernabeu for the first time since 2002?

"When I see his teams play, it is always with great intensity," said Seedorf. "He always attains results, so I have to say he is a great manager. I haven't worked with him but you can tell that is the case. He will definitely be the right man for them."

You can follow me on Twitter throughout the season @chrisbevan_bbc

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    What's wrong with football? Over-inflated ticket prices. I've only been able to afford to go to the Bridge once in the last few years.

  • Comment number 2.

    There’s a sequential malaise emanating from two problems, both of which feed into each other; so many people expect to see the highest quality of football, from the highest quality players, every game, and so there are so many games that you need a large squad.

    These issues lead to (at the richest clubs) very large squad sizes, with two, three or four excellent players for every position. In turn this also causes talent to be wasted, because excellent players find themselves on the bench behind players slightly more in form.

    Some of these players will choose to sit on the bench and pick up their huge pay-cheques, which contributes to wage bills spiralling out of control, and others will leave, which contributes to enormous transfer fees, and inevitably a large wage at another club.

  • Comment number 3.

    Money is the symptom the problem is greed. Greed from players, clubs and governing bodies.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Seeing as he was the first of five members of that all-conquering team of 1995 to depart on a Bosman free transfer"

    "Since 1997, though, they have been as far as the quarter-finals only once - in 2003. When they made this season's group stage, it was for the first time in five years."

    It would also be fair to suggest that if these five players had not left on free transfers Ajax may have enjoyed much greater success for much longer?

  • Comment number 6.

    What is wrong with football is the cheating, the diving, the swearing at referees, the general lack of respect. This can be solved with one simple directive from FIFA. Zero tolerance to disrespect of referees. Zero tolerance to foul language. Zero tolerance to inflamatory gestures towards the crowd. Zero tolerance to simulation - dive and off you go. Zero tolerance to trying to get someone booked or sent off - waving imaginary cards at the ref. With this the game will improve 1000 fold and become a game that provides a role model to our kids, not a game that I am ashamed to watch.

  • Comment number 7.

    Are Bayern not just successful because they retain the best that Germany has to offer? I can only think of one prominent Germany international who plays abroad (Ozil) and the rest play at Bayern. And let's not forget, they're not exactly short of a penny or two - I don't think Robben and Ribery are there for the scenery...

  • Comment number 8.

    Ahhh... bbc moderation - so fair
    criticise who you like as long as it's not the media

  • Comment number 9.

    A filter finds any offensive words such as 'Phil' or 'Mcnulty' and moderates them automatically..

  • Comment number 10.

    If financial health would be a qualification measure for the Champions League then many of the big clubs (Real, Barca, Manchester, Chelsea) would not be allowed to take part. I for one would support such a measure.

    What is destroying the small clubs is that the big teams buy up all the young talent, a lot of times even when that same talent hasn't proved anything yet. Holland is a classic example for that: Van Persie, Drenthe, Bruma, Maduro, Babel etc etc etc.


    I would recommend a ban on selling talent to a different league until the age of 23. In that way the clubs who have looked after the players will enjoy some on-pitch success, which is still what the sport is all about. Bank-account success is what people only seem to be interested in these days.

  • Comment number 11.

    As porkchopexpress said its all about the greed of the clubs but not so much the players.Do you seriously think the clubs are being held to ransom when the amount of money they receive from Tv and sponsors keeps pouring in and they use that money in other ways other than bringing down the prices of tickets. its their management of the cash thats the issue so i don't blame the players wanting to take advantage of newer contracts. If contracts were watertight we wouldn't have this problem of players deciding after signing one for 3 years to then want more money and when they are told to hop it they throw their toys out the pram and push for a move.
    The real money makers are the top 5 clubs in every league in Europe and those under that have to face up to the fact that its do or die

  • Comment number 12.

    #10 - a fanciful idea that sounds great but violates so many freedom of movement laws it's laughable. You can't tell a 22-year old from Amsterdam that he can't move to Macnhester or London or Madrid or anywhere else. Sorry - reality bites

  • Comment number 13.

    As in all professional sports now money talks.

    The idea that the media want quality over quantity is naive.

    All the TV & papers want is to fill schedules and column inches.

    Less football = less money from media, sponsors and fans for owners...

  • Comment number 14.

    I can see why Seedorf would like the idea of a Euopean league. However that would surely just compound the problem of the separation between the rich and the poor - who's to say Ajax would make it in, but if they did, what good is it for the smaller teams who don't.

    The true solution must lay in home grown talent. We are moving in this direction, but there must be a way to force clubs to develop their own players and not allow them to just spend big. What Man C, and before them Chelsea, have done simply shouldn't be allowed. Imagine what might have been if the Ajax of the late 90's couldn't have been broken up? Man U are still riding out the success of their home grown players from that same period.

    What if the academy club received a transfer cut for the entire career of a player? Ajax could still be making money off Seedorf.

    Or what if players had a maximum number of transfers allowed in thier career? Anelka would be in trouble - but it would make managers think twice about that unknown youngster.

    Or what if there were an internation wage cap? Maybe we greedy Europeans would watch more South American and African football because their clubs could afford to keep their players - heck it might even mean that the would cup superstars from Brazil etc might be players we've never seen play (exciting?).

    Or how about transfer caps accross the board? Not relative to income (which just means the rich get richer), but also limiting the number of players you could buy each transfer windo - maybe you could only buy two players each transfer window not totaling more than X amount, players would stay put longer.

    Seedorf is probably right about playing too many games also, but I'll let someone else address that issue. :)

  • Comment number 15.

    # 12 - It's not the players you have to tell they can't move - it's the clubs you have to tell they cannot buy Under 23s.

  • Comment number 16.

    bet this is the first time someone said this about FC Hollywood:

    "The reason they are so consistent is that they have a great structure and technical vision, and are disciplined in the choices they make with their manager and players"

    Are you havin a laugh Clarence?

    The reason they achieve a reasonable amount of sucess in the UCL is because they spend as much money as anyone in europe bar Madrid and Man City.

    In fact, if what is said was true and they were disciplined in their manager and players choices they would potentially be an even bigger threat to anyone in europe.

  • Comment number 17.

    How many footballers would be playing the game if they got paid £300 per week? Unfortunately we'll never find out.
    I believe the other big problem in the "big leagues" is that the stadium intake from attendances is too small a proportion of clubs' overall income. Inflated ticket prices and so many games being shown on tv have decimated crowds and atmosphere in recent years.
    I pay for Sky Sports every month and watch Premiership games but support a team in the Championship. This for me is the big way that football has changed, I can't afford to go and watch my club play, so instead I fund the Premiership. It's disheartening but that's the way life is.
    Big fan of Clarence Seedorf, he seems to be (one of very few) footballers who actually has his head screwed on. I hope he decides to manage or commentate in England when he retires as we have missed out on watching him play regularly.

  • Comment number 18.

    Ajax 95 Squad.

    GK: Fred Grim and Edwin van der Sar.

    DF: Danny Blind, Winston Bogarde, Frank de boer, Michael Reiziger, Frank Rijkaard, Sonny Silooy and Mendel Witzenhausen.

    MF: Ronald de Boer, John van de Brom (one off my fave players), Edgar Davids, Michel Kreek, Jari Litmanen, Tarik Oulida, Kiki Musampa, Martijn Reuser and Clarence Seedorf.

    AT: Finidi George, Nwanko Kanu, Patrick Kluivert, Peter van Vossen, Marc Overmars, Clyde Wijnhard (also was good in midfield), Nordin Wooter.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    WOW,so many great players.

  • Comment number 19.

    @ 6. Robbie.

    Exactly.

    But FIFA does not have the balls.

    It would take a month of pandamonium with players and managers feeling aggreived for being punished for telling the ref to Flip Off, then the press would be in an uproar as it is "ruining the game".

    but if the powers that be stuck with it for a month or two, world wide, and said this is how its going to be, deal with it or you will be left behind by the clubs that do adhere to the rule changes, then the clubs would very quickly start towing the line.

    and after all that you are still left with the beautiful game... but even better. so wheres the downside?

    but FIFA is a joke, run by fat cats out to make a dollar they dont listen to reason and cant be held accountable for the embarrasments they cause.

    respect has no chance in football.

  • Comment number 20.

    Stop being so naive about things like ticket prices, greed, etc. Football is no different from any other commercial enterprise. Market conditions and supply and demand will always dictate things like player salaries, ticket prices, etc. Ticket prices wil rise and fall depending upon gates.

  • Comment number 21.

    13. At 2:52pm on 15 Mar 2011, hainba wrote:
    As in all professional sports now money talks.

    The idea that the media want quality over quantity is naive.

    All the TV & papers want is to fill schedules and column inches.

    Less football = less money from media, sponsors and fans for owners...

    ----------------------------------------------

    Thought Jerry Maguire already covered this.

  • Comment number 22.

    #20 bang on the money. Pun intended.

    While it remains a commercial venture as part of the entertainment industry, nothing will change in football, or any other sport. Tennis, cricket - you name it. Every mainstream sport is saturated to squeeze every penny possible out. While we (the punters) continue to lap it up, who in their right mind would change anything?

  • Comment number 23.

    9. At 2:43pm on 15 Mar 2011, RedAstaire² wrote:
    A filter finds any offensive words such as 'Phil' or 'Mcnulty' and moderates them automatically..

    ------------------------------------------

    Whoah! Whoah! There's no need for that kind of language. Please people lets keep it clean.

  • Comment number 24.

    nice piece chris
    money indeed rules football, and the poaching of the rich english clubs should stop, i mean 60 million brits and they still raid every young kid they can in holland and other countrys
    im no fan of feyenoord, but its a disgrace how many talented youth they loose to the rich clubs these days, kids are approached before reaching 16 and theyre parents are convinced with well payed jobs or other financial benefits
    ill cheer for the new financial regulation coming for clubs, but i fear there are many ways to go around it

  • Comment number 25.

    Money has ruined the game. Rather than creating a rich league as Clarence would they should split all TV money evenly between each league. Reward the winning team in the premiership with the same prize money as the bottom club.

    Money should not be the trophy clubs chase, silverware should. 2nd 3rd 4th & 5th is nowhere so make a playoff to decide the CL places between the next 4 clubs at the end of season. 2nd CL place to the FA Cup winners, at least they deserve to be there for winning something.

    Make the CL a real competition again rather than the farce of a league it is now: Seed the clubs, if they must, but return to a knockout format & make every game count.

    The biggest problem in the game is average players, being given, superstar wages. I can't see a fix for this parasite of the game. I'd like a basic wage & bonuses for wins & draws to a maximum level but it won't happen. Maybe a squad limit of 50% of turnover, pay any player what they like but a 30 man squad can only be paid up to the limit.

    Away from money:

    * get the ref's to wear mic's like in rugby & enforce the rules fully. If they really are the only sportsmen too thick to control themselves red card.
    * immediate use of technology, goal line and offsides ( bring back when you're offside, it's offside. ) 4th official in the stands with instant replay etc.
    * players found to be diving / cheating red card during the game or 3 game ban post match after review.

  • Comment number 26.

    #17 you are the problem. how much is your subscription to watch the premier league on tele? how much is a season ticket for the team you say you support?

  • Comment number 27.

    Bayern are hardly an example of making do with less. From Forbes, for 2009, Revenue: $465(€295/£234) Million - puts them just behind Real, United and Barcelona. The wonder is that, with their huge financial advantage, they don't win the Bundesliga every year.

    As for the "problems" in the game, I don't think there are any easy solutions. I like #6 Robbie's zero tolerance idea - it gets close to working in Rugby.

    FFP is likely to enshrine the status quo - it will become much more difficult for a Manchester City to overcome the advantage derived from Champions League money and make the jump to join the big boys. A significant tithe on transfer fees and/or player salaries that got passed back to the developing clubs might help a little. Most other "salary cap" or transfer limitation ideas seem certain to fall foul of European union competition laws.

    A "European league" already exists - the Champions League. Domestic leagues are simply there to determine promotion and relegation.

  • Comment number 28.

    I don't think teams from smaller countries will be able to compete otherwise. But if that can change, then who knows.
    ------------------------------------------------------
    They can't compete and its a common complaint among fans and clubs in smaller countries.

    The CL is only really won by teams from the big 5 countries, those with the biggest TV deals. Only one team (Mourinho's Porto) from outwith these leagues has ever won the trophy.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    @OranjeRotterdam

    That simply won't happen, no club will support it. Labour laws won't allow it

    Stopping Under 18's moving maybe will have better scope and easier to implement and less legal wrangle, but big clubs surpass that now without much problem. Unless Contracts can be written up for these youngsters in the countries aforementioned to protect their youthful investment and avoid losing top talent, it won't be worth the paper it's written on, so to speak.

  • Comment number 31.

    Forgot to add that I have never failed to be impressed by Seedorf. His play and sportsmanship are self evident. His fluency in English, including the depth of his vocabulary, puts most British players to shame. Even more remarkable considering that English is what, his fourth language? (behind Dutch, Spanish and Italian). The more we see and hear of him, the better, so far as I am concerned.

  • Comment number 32.

    14. At 2:56pm on 15 Mar 2011, ChicagoGooner wrote:

    What if the academy club received a transfer cut for the entire career of a player? Ajax could still be making money off Seedorf.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    I suggested the same thing a while back on another blog.

    _________________________________________________________________________


    16. At 3:10pm on 15 Mar 2011, S Neto wrote:

    bet this is the first time someone said this about FC Hollywood:

    "The reason they are so consistent is that they have a great structure and technical vision, and are disciplined in the choices they make with their manager and players"

    Are you havin a laugh Clarence?

    The reason they achieve a reasonable amount of sucess in the UCL is because they spend as much money as anyone in europe bar Madrid and Man City.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I thought this was the case too, with huge financial backing from Germany's global giants.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    And Clarence seems to be talking vis-a-vis Ajax, but surely haven't they done to the smaller clubs in Dutch football what he's complaining is being done to Ajax by wealthier European clubs. Pot calling the kettle black.

  • Comment number 33.

    #26 That's exactly what I was saying, I get Sky Sports 1 & 2 for about £15 per month. By the time I've travelled to get there, got the ticket, eaten a pie and bought a scarf I would have spent almost a hundred quid.

    I was highlighting myself as an example of what is wrong with football. Obviously I'd love to be in a position to watch them every week. I was a season ticket holder for years. Unfortunately like many others, I can't do it any more.
    If you are going to comment, please attempt to understand what the other person is saying first.

  • Comment number 34.

    #32

    And Clarence seems to be talking vis-a-vis Ajax, but surely haven't they done to the smaller clubs in Dutch football what he's complaining is being done to Ajax by wealthier European clubs. Pot calling the kettle black.
    ------------------------------------------------------

    What exactly have Ajax done to smaller Dutch clubs?

    The point he seemed to be making was that differential TV incomes across Europe make it difficult for teams in Holland to compete against big 5 teams.

  • Comment number 35.

    Why do the BBC insists on publishing lazy unoiginal articles like this ? - "one of the main reasons why Ajax declined over the years was lack of money" no way , really ? - "the games have become more intense and faster" do we really need a top player like Seedorf to tell us that. If he was such a fasinating character to interview why hasnt the reporter produced an interesting article rather than blindly stating the obvious at every turn. having seen Seedorf on TV over the years I always found him to be intelligent and an interesting character with plenty of original thoughts on the game - unfortunately the reporter doesnt appear to be blessed with the same attributes

  • Comment number 36.

    I live in Canada and I really like the draft process they use in North American sports.
    For example with Basketball, the team with the worst record gets the 1st pick in the draft for the following year. That player is typically the best young talent available. This balances things out over time, and reduces one or several teams dominance over a protracted period of time.
    A great example of a bad team benefitting from the draft process is Lebron James. After being drafted by Cleveland, he made them into one of the best teams in the league.
    The other things that really level the playing field is a salary cap that teams have to adhere to, plus that fact that players are traded, not sold. So if a team was give up the best player they would get players back in return.

  • Comment number 37.

    Post 34

    Added to this unlike England and Spain where clubs can operate from a position of financial loss and debt accumulation, I think those in Holland like Germany have to be debt-free.

  • Comment number 38.

    There will never be a water tight method to cap wages and enforce the financial fair play initiative. A rich owner will always be able to conjure up extra income by sponsoring a box or advertising campaign. But they will soon get bored if they do not achieve success. So why bother with another hopeless attempt to stop the tide coming in.
    It is incidentally very good for UK PLC to attract all these massive earners to the UK as we extract at least half of their massive wages through income taxes. Each £5m pa footballer pays enough tax to support 200 dole claimants on £250.00 per week.

  • Comment number 39.

    34. At 4:57pm on 15 Mar 2011, Rob04 wrote:

    What exactly have Ajax done to smaller Dutch clubs?

    The point he seemed to be making was that differential TV incomes across Europe make it difficult for teams in Holland to compete against big 5 teams.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    As Holland's biggest club, they've historically enjoyed all the exponential benefits that that brings, e.g. financial, cherry picking the country's talent. Why should they be given special dispensation now the boot is on the other foot, only because they themselves are being squeezed? Don't all clubs deserve the same consideration?

  • Comment number 40.

    I cannot agree with Seedorf at all, from the sounds of it he wants everyone to play slow boring football like they do in Italy (maybe because he himself can't take the pace anymore) and would have a big European premiership rather than teams playing in their own domestic leagues and then competing in Europe along side them.

    My first problem with this is that football without atmosphere isn't worth having. If you have the top teams only playing each other and flying around the continent to do so it will get boring and along with this away fans will never be able to afford it and it will really on be a sport for the wealthy.

    Secondly football played at a slow pace is boring, hence why the Italian league is dying. Yes it is a shame when footballers get injured but at the end of the day they are paid enough for injuries not to hurt quite so much when they are citing in their ivory towers having their every whim pandered to for me as a member of the paying public not to be that much sympathy. Yes we do all want to see the top players playing but if that means watching Italian style football played at walking pace they really will loose the paying public.

    If they do manage to force teams to only spend what they earn it will be great for the game. It may not help teams like Ajax but fundamentally football is now a capitalist game and the Dutch league needs to make its brand more appealing and the teams need to merchandise themselves better. It is not the fault of other teams in Europe that smaller European teams were not forward thinking enough to merchandise themselves on a world scale when teams like Manchester United and Real Madrid started in the 90s.

  • Comment number 41.

    What's wrong in football?

    1. Money distribution
    2. Sky TV
    3. Premier League

    Football is now the greed of a few been fed by the passion of the many.

  • Comment number 42.

    That ajax side was wonderful. Seedorf, Oevrmars, the de boers and criminally underrated Jari Litmannen was an awesome site in full flow.

    Saying that, I dont agree with the expression about bayern at all. They are the world 4th richest club and their Commercial turnover is like double MANU's, and they are on course to overtake manu next year and become 3rd.

  • Comment number 43.

    UEFA FFP is a joke. It is absolutely not Financial Fair Play more like Financial Fixed Positioning. In 10 years time the log jam at the top of the European game will be cast in concrete. No more dreams for little clubs so might as well give up.
    Platini brought this in to protect his friends at the old Euro giants that could not compete with the English Premier League.
    Real fair play would be all teams can spend the same on players in a division or money from the league is distributed evenly (no chance of that).

  • Comment number 44.

    #40

    Nonsense. Serie A is a superb league. Lest we forget that Serie A in the late 80's and 90's was stronger than any league ever, period. They held all the aces and the football was a joy to behold. To say its boring says you prefer kick and rush nonsense like Stoke or even England!

  • Comment number 45.

    It's a vicious cycle. Players and agents want more money, owners have to pay up or risk losing them on the cheap or a bosman, those expenses are passed down to supporters, but still falls short so there are now more games in football as a means to spread out those costs.

    The players CANNOT have their cake and eat it too - their high transfer prices/wages has to be paid somehow which means more games to be played.

  • Comment number 46.

    "10. At 2:45pm on 15 Mar 2011, OranjeRotterdam wrote:
    If financial health would be a qualification measure for the Champions League then many of the big clubs (Real, Barca, Manchester, Chelsea) would not be allowed to take part. I for one would support such a measure.

    What is destroying the small clubs is that the big teams buy up all the young talent, a lot of times even when that same talent hasn't proved anything yet. Holland is a classic example for that: Van Persie, Drenthe, Bruma, Maduro, Babel etc etc etc.


    I would recommend a ban on selling talent to a different league until the age of 23. In that way the clubs who have looked after the players will enjoy some on-pitch success, which is still what the sport is all about. Bank-account success is what people only seem to be interested in these days."

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You forget to count Inter, Ac Milan, and well pretty much every other "big name" in European football. Going by your theory it would actually mean the CL would be contested eventually by Premiership teams plus Barca and Real, as the make SO much more money than other European teams. They have the highest support and best global marketing. Manchester City and Chelsea are built on external injections of cash, Manchester United on the opposite - an extremely profitable club mired into debt by PERSONAL debt brought in by leeching owners. There is no simple solution to the money problem, but at least the new rules are going some way to adressing that.

    At the end of the day there will ALWAYS be bigger clubs, bigger fish in the pond - you cant come in and demand everybody has the same starting point. That isn't how football has ever worked, and it never will.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think your points a good except when you talk about Bayern, they are a very rich club and have massive revenues, they just don't spend it the English teams do. Also I think their team is better than UTD's. They have a weak defence but then they have probably the best defender in the world in Lahm. Their midfield is very strong, one of the best in europe, and their strikeforce is quality as well.


    And Number 44 Weezer316 well said, anyone who says the Italian league is boring, deserve the premiership. The Italian league isn't as slow pace as many think, it is a technical and tactical game much like in Spain. England is all about hoofing into the danger zone as early as possible which I find quite ugly.

  • Comment number 48.

    I'd love to see clubs like Chelsea and Man City brought back down to earth, but I'm not sure it will happen. They'll find a way around UEFA's new rules.

  • Comment number 49.

    Football has moved on drastically from the 90s, with players being technically better and faster with and without the ball. Obviously it has moved on physically, with the game being played at a higher tempo especially in england and players being faster,stronger and fitter. More emphasis is placed on science to provide new procedures to improve the fitness of players. Players are scrutinized more over their mental fitness and the idea of players playing together as a team is crucial in securing victory as it is extremely difficult for one player to win a match on his own as teams are too defensively shrewd nowadays. Also there is more emphasis on passing football and keeping the ball one the floor, and more pressure is place on defenders to attack and bring the ball out from the back, a defender is an attacker when he is in possession. There is also alot more movement form players especially from midfield forward and short passes are used to move teams around and exploit and open up spaces.

  • Comment number 50.

    Is it me, or are a lot of the people who complain about the state of football the same ones who complain about the 'interfering' Platini who is trying to remedy the situation. And yes, I have actually taken the time to read the UEFA proposals before forming an opinion

  • Comment number 51.

    #39

    The Dutch clubs collectively run their own TV deal. It generates about double what is generated in places like Scotland but doesn't come close to the EPL deal. According to another poster they can't go into debt.

    That big 5 countries get more financial benefits from TV deals than others is a fact. That it produces disparities in European competitions like the CL is also evident. Seedorf is correct in his statement.

    So how have Ajax done over other Dutch teams? They have more support and are based in the capital so what?

  • Comment number 52.

    What a pleasure it was to watch Seedorf the other night against Spurs - veteran he may be, but like all the truly great players he always seems to be completely unhurried in everything he does.

  • Comment number 53.

    5. At 2:31pm on 15 Mar 2011, you wrote:
    "Seeing as he was the first of five members of that all-conquering team of 1995 to depart on a Bosman free transfer"

    "Since 1997, though, they have been as far as the quarter-finals only once - in 2003. When they made this season's group stage, it was for the first time in five years."

    It would also be fair to suggest that if these five players had not left on free transfers Ajax may have enjoyed much greater success for much longer?

    -------------------

    10 - a fanciful idea that sounds great but violates so many freedom of movement laws it's laughable. You can't tell a 22-year old from Amsterdam that he can't move to Macnhester or London or Madrid or anywhere else. Sorry - reality bites

    -------------------

    Wasn't suggesting that"freedom of movement laws" should be violated.. was simply offering this as one reason for Ajax' decline when 5 of their best players left that great team on free transfers. Ajax are a self confessed selling club, the Ajax system develops players from a young age with the knowledge that they will be sold for great profit later on, in fact the club relies heavily on this revenue.
    These players had no loyalty, allowing their contracts to run out, so they could secure lucrative contracts for themselves. No thought for the club that had nurtured and developed their talents - my point, this is one of the big problems with modern day football.

  • Comment number 54.

    It's not realistic to expect small clubs from small countries to aspire to winning the Champion's League, but there's something seriously wrong when it starts to become almost impossible for any team outside of about 8 big clubs to even make the semi-finals.

    The obvious problem, in my eyes, is the lack of money in domestic football in the smaller domestic leagues. The only way around this I can see is to create super leagues. For example: a Germany/Holland/Belgium league or a Holland/France/Portugal league. Probably sounds crazy to most, but without it I suspect the Ajaxs, Benficas, etc. will be forever doomed to be domestic giants but European minnows.

    If these former great clubs persist in being non-competitive it will be a great loss to European Football.

  • Comment number 55.

    And... suggesting that Bayern are run on a shoestring budget IS laughable - Bayern who have traditionally bought up all the talent available in the Bubdesliga from the other clubs, as well as adding expensive foreign players to their ranks.
    I fear for the talented young Dortmund team, many of whom will move on to Bayern in the next season or two.

  • Comment number 56.

    couldn't agree more with Robbie.

  • Comment number 57.

    My thoughts on the future of football.....

    Anyone who reads this post is very passionate about the game and we all have views on what would be "good for the game". One of the most fierce issues seems to be the wages players receive. Combine this with the obvious lack of RESPECT that certain players seem to show to other players, officials and dare I say it, the supporters as a whole. Everyone agrees ultimately that we all have to pay a very high percentage of our hard earned money to sit and watch these people who appear to be so far out of reach of all that is good in the game and to top it all, seem to be treated like gods by their own clubs for fear of them leaving for a different team.

    One thing I have learnt in business though, despite how annoying the the wage debate might be, we should only change what we can. We cannot, for the foreseeable future effect the above. Even the FA wouldn't dear attempt to step in and let's be frank, you and I will still pay our money and turn up each week so we are as guilty as the rest.

    Anyhow, that's my rant over.

    So for the future of the game and what can we effect short term...

    1. A winter break. This won't just be good for the players, but also for us. Everyone loves the fixture listings over the Christmas and New Year period (need I say more), however, come mid to late January we are all skint (hence lower gates during this period), so two weeks off would be a great thing.

    2. The number of games played. We can all talk about teams showing the league and FA cup disrespect by fielding a week side, but short of scrapping one of the cups or reducing the number of teams in leagues etc, we may as well get use to it. And the history books won't care if Arsenal did, or did not field their strongest side in the League Cup. All history will really show is the 2011 champions were Birmingham. Plus, how else will the younger talent get to spread their wings without these competitions, because the premier league and champions league are so important they probably wouldn't get their chance without them. Remember that job you went for when the said "you don't have enough experience" and we reply "if we don't get the job how can we get the experience". Isn't this just the same thing but actually football is doing the right thing...???

    3. Goal line technology. We should not tamper with the game, as the officials are part of the game and give us, be it good or bad, the main talking points down the pub, however, we should include this one aid and one aid only, and pretty soon. Remember Frank Lampard...???

    So to sum up what is a very long post. We should change what we can and not worry about what we cannot change. We have a great sport that the occasional change can be great for the game, like the back pass rule. But ultimately change for change sake could destroy it.

  • Comment number 58.

    Because all you football fans would stay loyal to the firm that trained you straight out of school and ignore the chance of promotions, wage hikes with other firms??

    In 1837 that might have been the case, but Thatcher's children all want upwardly moblile now.

    Get over it.

  • Comment number 59.

    Because all you football fans would stay loyal to the firm that trained you straight out of school and ignore the chance of promotions, wage hikes with other firms??

    In 1837 that might have been the case, but Thatcher's children all want upwardly moblile now.

    Get over it.

    ----------------

    Bad analogy - you cannot compare a job you get when you leave school to a football club that grooms you, from the age of 5 - 10 years old to be a top professional in your field, gives you the chance of living out your dreams as a top footballer, and gives you the skills that will set you up for life .. If offered such an opportunity, a little loyalty and gratitude Can be expected I think.

  • Comment number 60.

    #54
    It's not realistic to expect small clubs from small countries to aspire to winning the Champion's League, but there's something seriously wrong when it starts to become almost impossible for any team outside of about 8 big clubs to even make the semi-finals.
    -----------------------------------------------------

    So what is the point of the CL competition for these clubs other than to get to the group stage and take the pot from getting there?

    Its not aspiring to win that is the problem. Getting anywhere close is the problem.

    And what about the 'big' clubs from the small countries?!

    Ajax/ PSV
    Brugge
    Celtic/ Rangers

  • Comment number 61.

    #59
    sorry i dont see your point at all

    mainly because its assumed that disloyalty is only down to greedy players chopping and changing poor clubs being used by them for personal gain. But clubs arent loyal either.

    1) i think we all know people who were at pro clubs in their youth systems, promised the earth and then let go with little explanation other than "too small" or something like that, when the kid and his parents have been making several sacrifices in life up to then
    2) only really in the top flights are the 'jobs' secure. have a look into how many players are released from their contracts from championship downwards every season, and struggle to get clubs elsewhere. Gavin Strachan for instance (named just because he was a former blogger on bbc) wasnt owed a career by any club in particular, they didnt need him at Notts County so off he was sent to the semi pro leagues. "Why not give him a contract out of loyalty??" And unless you start through a prem side's youth system, you have to have worked your way from other stepping stone clubs to get there.
    3) why stay at one club if it may affect your personal development as a player. Maybe you campaigned against Gary Hooper's move to celtic as he shouldve been more loyal to Scunthorpe and just stagnated there for several years? now he's playing top flight (in scotland) football and getting an england u21 callup. Or maybe Theo Walcott was better off staying at Southampton along with Gareth Bale, these disloyal toerags...

    Your point is limited solely to very top flight players who can afford to pick and chose their clubs and consider loyalty at all, with their wages providing security for the rest of their lives. theres not many of them proportionately

  • Comment number 62.

    @ 61 I take your points - however, my initial point WAS specifically about the situation at Ajax in the mid 90s (See post 53) These were established players, who had a lot to thank the club for.
    Of course, football can be cruel and clubs are often as disloyal as players. But kids/parents as well as clubs, who invest heavily in youth development, take these risks willingly.

  • Comment number 63.

    The whole premise of this argument that european football has just got "unfair" is a joke.
    So it's really UNFAIR that Ajax, one of literally thousands of league teams in Europe, who have allready won the the European Cup 4 TIMES! haven't managed to win it again in the past 15 years, boo hoo!

    Arsenal, the third most succefull club in England have never won it but they'll still be labelled as part of the evil overlords hoarding it from the rest.

    Sheffield F.C. the worlds oldest football club have never won, not even in any of the constantly eulagised good old days of the European cup. You know back when Real Madrid could win umpteen times in a row and Ajax pulled it off at least once a decade or so, yeah, back when it was really fair...

  • Comment number 64.

    I'd agree with 61.

    Football clubs don't give squat for loyalty when they don't need you any more, no matter what nod and wink they might offer in your early teens.

    Why should footballers??

    Nobody here, or very few, work for a wage out of loyalty or morals to their wage provider. Everyone, or most, would not even look back twice if an all-round 'better' opportunity for work was offered elsewhere.

  • Comment number 65.

    '53. At 8:13pm on 15 Mar 2011, RedAstaire² wrote: Ajax are a self confessed selling club, the Ajax system develops players from a young age with the knowledge that they will be sold for great profit later on, in fact the club relies heavily on this revenue.
    These players had no loyalty, allowing their contracts to run out, so they could secure lucrative contracts for themselves. No thought for the club that had nurtured and developed their talents - my point, this is one of the big problems with modern day football.'
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Are these facts or opinion?

  • Comment number 66.

    charlie munger likes talking about the importance of incentives when you're trying to persuade people.

    as far as transfers of young players go there's a clear solution - clubs need to have financial rewards attached to their ability to produce successful young players.
    in the pre-bosman era, this was done by a transfer fee which had to be paid to the developing club whether or not the player was out of contract.
    since then, when the model was correctly judged to be an unfair restriction on the individual concerned, there's been nothing done to replace the lost incentive which encouraged clubs to develop strong youth structures.
    assuming these are valuable to the game as a whole then the obvious answer is to take the prize money on offer for major tournaments and put aside a percentage to pay the clubs responsible for the development of the people participating in those tournaments.
    for example, if the total prize money to be divided between the uefa champions league teams is about 300 million say (from about 5 million pounds for the worst performers to around 40 million for the best) then take 20 or 25 percent of that 300 million and divide it up between the teams who produced the players in the competition.
    on the one hand, this would mean slightly less prize money for the top clubs which would encourage competitiveness and on the other, it would hand an income to clubs with strong youth facilites an income whether or not they qualified for the ECL.

    of course there'd have to be variables set for the calculation, such as where those players were from ages 13 to 18 or whatever but assuming ajax or benfica produce 30 or 40 players each from their youth systems who then go on to compete in the champions league in any given season, those clubs would then be entitled to however many millions on top of any other fees they recieved in prize money making them and other clubs like them stronger and more likely to succeed.

    also, as far as more physical and intense play goes the influence of advanced training techniques and physical preparation means players can cover ground quicker now than 30 or 40 years ago for longer amounts of time. that gives rise to a specific style of play become more widespread and the only way to change that would be to either make a regulation size pitch which is slightly bigger than the ones currently being played on (think barcelona's nou camp size) or reduce the size of teams to 10 players instead of 11.
    either way, it's conceievable if not downright probable that in a few decades time there'll be less room for flowing passing movements or individual skill if current trends continue.
    whether or not these changes should be allowed to happen or not "for the good of the game" is another debate entirely - my personal opinion is that strong youth structures and open, flowing football must be incentivized as much as possible - but these are the likely outcomes facing the game based on the current incentives (or lack thereof) currently in play.

  • Comment number 67.

    #60

    I'm not sure what you are trying to say.

    Maybe it's just me but I would like to see a Champion's League with a regular significant participation from the big clubs from the smaller countries. As it stands, you're likely to see the same teams make the semi-finals year after year, with perhaps one exception (who has almost no chance of winning) every four or five years.

    Holland, Portugal, etc can't support leagues strong enough to produce teams that can remotely compete with the Premier League, La Liga, etc. It used to be the case that these countries could at least produce one team that had a shot at going deep in the EC/CL almost every year.

    Now if most people in Holland and Portugal ate happy to focus on domestic football, poach some cash from the CL, and watch all their top players move on after a couple years then fine. It's their league after all.

    But I still think European football as a whole will be the lesser for it.

  • Comment number 68.

    #67

    The nature of league based football will always lead to the best players at smaller clubs moving on to bigger ones, even in a franchise system they would move from the little leagues to bigger ones. No team has ever won a European cup having not poached players from smaller clubs and it isn't gonna change. If your arguing that you just think that the bigger clubs in holland, portugal or scotland should have the same opportunities as the big clubs in the big leagues, well theres a simple solution to that, a big pan-European league, up for that?

  • Comment number 69.

    Aah, what good memories does that photo of Ajax winning the champions league bring back. Truely a team that produced, and re-produced talent from their famous Ajax academy.
    The problem with european club football was the introduction of teams other than national champions being entered into the Champions league competition. This in turn has had a detrimental affect on the europa league ( UEFA Cup), which was a knock-out competition from the outset.
    Money has ruined both competitions and many european leagues, shame on FIFA, shame on UEFA.
    Back in 95 the elite teams were not the best soley because of money, in was to do more with scouting, player developing, and fitness regimes. Not to mention good management.
    Now its more like, 'ain't got a team, money; ain't got fans, buy them; ain't got class, who cares we've got money.
    Its plain and simple, the romance of football is completely dead in the elite leagues of Europe because of money and no one gives a rats because they are getting paid.
    If only the credit crunch had hit football, what happened there.

  • Comment number 70.

    People, how can you be loyal when someone is offering you a bucket load of cash to play for them. Ask yourselves if you would quit your jobs tomorrow for doing the same work with a different employer if you was offered 10 times more. Hard to say no.

    This Financial Fair play thing is a joke as well. Only applies to teams with super rich owners, and how do you actually enforce it.

    Clubs ain't about supporters any more and players dont need to have ambition any more.

    We are living the age of fast food football. All this high tech ball and footwear, and the modern day sprinter of a footballer. The game is all about speed.
    I can remember Zola, Baggio, Maradona, Barnes, Figo, etc, etc, ect. All players who could go past you without pace. When players like Barnes and zola whent past a defender the player beaten would be flat on their arse looking silly.
    These players were beautiful to watch.


  • Comment number 71.

    #68

    Actually, I would love a super league, but I realize that I am an exception there.

    The problem as I see it is that the current financial structure of European football tends to encourage the growth of a handful of extremely wealthy clubs that will continue to distance themselves from all other clubs. I would be OK with this if these teams faced each other more often.

    The current structure of the CL keeps most of the elite teams away from each other until the quarter finals. Currently, a team must play at least 13 matches to win the Cup. I'd rather see some thing like the following:

    CL: 12 teams in 2 groups of 6. Top 2 in each group advance to the Semis. Bottom 2 in each group playoff to avoid relegation to the Europa League.

    EL: Any structure, I don't care, but the winner advances to the CL and the runner up has a playoff with 2nd last in the CL for the last CL spot.

    Domestic Leagues: same as now except top teams get places in the Europa League if they aren't already in the CL.

    This would make the Europa League better, leave domestic leagues intact, and I will see more ManU v Reals and Arsenal v AC Milans.

  • Comment number 72.

    Very poor blog ...... almost hero worship of Seedorf and does not dare to touch at all on the real reasons for Ajax decline ... 5 top players able to leave on free transfers. that is just plain ridiculous .. the players deserted ajax for bigger salaries and Ajax got no reward for nurturing them and they showed no loyalty ,, not that I expect that from any footballer these days. Will not read this man's blogs again until he gets into the nitty gritty a little more ... very asinine indeed.

  • Comment number 73.

    51. At 8:02pm on 15 Mar 2011, Rob04 wrote:
    #39

    The Dutch clubs collectively run their own TV deal. It generates about double what is generated in places like Scotland but doesn't come close to the EPL deal. According to another poster they can't go into debt.

    That big 5 countries get more financial benefits from TV deals than others is a fact. That it produces disparities in European competitions like the CL is also evident. Seedorf is correct in his statement.

    So how have Ajax done over other Dutch teams? They have more support and are based in the capital so what?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Using your twist of fate demographics logic, Holland is a less populous country than any of the Big 5, so it's common sense they're going to be poorer. So what? What have the Big 5 done to Ajax? You were obviously selective with what you chose to digest from my previous post.

    Typical of this viewpoint is DrEnk(#54), who frets that former European powerhouses becoming non-competitive is a great loss to European football, but it's difficult to feel sympathy when you don't hear him/her worrying about former domestic powerhouses becoming non-competitive being a great loss to domestic football. It's just as much self-interest as the Big 5's. Gunnerslover2007 (#63) highlights the hypocrisy: 'The whole premise of this argument that european football has just got "unfair" is a joke.
    So it's really UNFAIR that Ajax, one of literally thousands of league teams in Europe, who have allready won the the European Cup 4 TIMES! haven't managed to win it again in the past 15 years, boo hoo!

    Arsenal, the third most succefull club in England have never won it but they'll still be labelled as part of the evil overlords hoarding it from the rest.

    Sheffield F.C. the worlds oldest football club have never won, not even in any of the constantly eulagised good old days of the European cup. You know back when Real Madrid could win umpteen times in a row and Ajax pulled it off at least once a decade or so, yeah, back when it was really fair...'

    I actually think pan_European Leagues are the way forward for clubs like Ajax, Celtic, Rangers, etc, but do you think they are concerned how this will leave those they leave behind in their domestic leagues, and will be accommodating those clubs' accelerated entry into the new super league rather than keeping them in their place so they can continue to tap the cream of the talent? I don't think so.

  • Comment number 74.

    money has ruined the game, but i don't think there is a real fix because UEFA don't really want to fix it!
    UEFA would love just to penalise the Premier league because of all its money,(its a joke why do everton keep having to sell their best homegrown talent, all the money, its about benefactors simple)but any measures that they would introduce would also penailise Barca, Real, Ac milan, etc etc, mmmmmmm this is the rub as much as i hate UEFA and Michel Platini i do think this is the way forward, tell teams that they cant spend more than they earn but also all the TV monies has to be divided more equally across all the teams in the premier league and possible championship, and only the league sponsor money should be the prize for winning. Also erm why not have a champions league that is just that not a 2nd 3rd 4th place league, that would reduce games. Reintroduce cup winners cup, and get rid of europa league................i for one am sick of seeing Man Utd, Chelsea winning the league all the time for the game to grow and survive we need variety!

    rant over!!

  • Comment number 75.

    I agree 100% with Robbie. Start by giving automatic yellows for dissent - getting rid of referee mobbing, even if it means mass sending off. Add post match reviews for simulation, regardless of the ref's decision in the game.

    But it goes deeper than that - when 10 year olds go to school days at my local Championship club they get coached to dive and cheat. What sort of game is that?

  • Comment number 76.

    Seedorf is a legend, but I don't agree with his comments about Bayern Munich not being one of the most talented squads in Europe. Bayern spend big money and buy top-class players. Look at the prices they've paid for some of their current team:

    Ribery- €25 million
    Robben- €25 million
    Gomez- €30 million

    Plus the fact they've managed to retain the likes of Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Muller, which suggests they're paying wages at a comparable level to Europe's top sides.

    Look at the speculation that surrounded Ozil after The World Cup. He'd shown himself to be a top player and it was simply a case of which top club would pluck him from Bremen. There was no such speculation surrounding Muller, despite the fact he won the Golden Boot, because everyone knew Bayern have the muscle to hang on to him.

  • Comment number 77.

    What's wrong with the game? Players being paid £150k a week while fans pay £50 a week to get in, and still the club lose money.

    Maybe, just maybe, the game will realise it cannot sustain such ridiculous wages, cos these days it isn't just one or two players on 90k+, it's 8 or 9.

    Also, has anyone ever explained how clubs arrive at transfer fees. How is a player worth £35m, when they also cost £5m+ a year in wages? Do they generate over £15m of revenue on their own, every year?

  • Comment number 78.

    "I pay for Sky Sports every month and watch Premiership games but support a team in the Championship. This for me is the big way that football has changed, I can't afford to go and watch my club play, so instead I fund the Premiership. It's disheartening but that's the way life is." - TB

    I've done it the other way around. I have a boycot on Sky and refuse to pay for it. This means I am not funding already overpaid players which in turn means I can support my (championship) team.

    I dont understand comments like yours. Its a choice YOU'VE made for yourself, and your sat there moaning about the effects of that choice and say its disheartening. What I find disheartening is that you;ve chosen to fund the prem over your team. Thats not just disheartening, it defies logic. And now I know what that white elephant of a division has lasted so long and got so bad. People are addicted to watching overpaid foreigners crowding our youngsters out of the game. And then they sit and moan about it on a national website. Unbelievable.

  • Comment number 79.

    #
    I'm not arguing that its unfair that Ajax haven't won the European Cup again!?? And there is no European Cup! And you use words like 'selfish' and 'hypocrisy' without still being able to tell me how Ajax have done over their fellow Dutch clubs.

    But there is an issue about the competitive balance of the CL, about access to it by domestic Champions (not domestic also rans like Liverpool and Arsenal) from the smaller leagues, the rewards available and whether teams like Ajax can realistically aspire to win the thing (unlike the actual European Cup where they, alongside less fashionable teams such as Nottingham Forest could aspire to do so). Under the present system they most probably won't.

    Coming into office Platini recognised all of these as issues that skewed the competition in favour of the 'big 5' but has clearly failed to get much movement from the real powers in European football (the teams with dosh and the TV sponsors). I agree with you to the extent that an Atlantic League would be a better propostion for teams in smaller European nations because I'm not sure they actually need the big 5 teams anyway

    And the problem with #54 is that he/she wants it all ways: for smaller clubs to get a wee chance but just not at centre stage with his 'elite'. And that really is the problem for teams in countries like Holland.

  • Comment number 80.

    I know it was a million miles away from Top class football but when I played Sunday League there was a referee who would book you and send you off for persistent foul language. Before the match he came in the dressing room and laid the law down so every one knew what to expect - the result - you kept your mouth shut the odd f word was allowed but carry on and you were in the book.

    As for bringing in instant replays - FIFA says it would spoil the continuity of the game - but generally we've seen the replay four or five times and the argument is still going on the pitch as to whether it was over the line, in or out of the box, etc.

    As for Clarence great footballer (he is surely over 34?) but had he stayed at Ajax and been sold on some of their problems would not exist today - so it's more of a case of do as I say rather than do as I do.

  • Comment number 81.

    Clarence is a good lad. He is a rate player.

  • Comment number 82.

    Whats wrong with the game ? seeing petulant overpaid young men flouting authority,spitting the dummy at every decision that goes against them or their side thus interrupting the flow of the play and getting backed by coaches for doing so.We all witnessed the world cup final marred by 16/17 yellow cards,just rejig the current rules,if a player receives 2 yellows he's off,reducing his side to 10 men,if a player receives 3 yellows in a comp, he is suspended,again denying his team of his services,if 11 players in one team get 11 yellow cards they finish with 11 men.Rejig the rules to say that if a team receives 3 yellow cards , the coach (who obviously condones this behavior) is forced to take one of the three off.Think about it

  • Comment number 83.

    "Money. It has definitely played a bigger and bigger role over the years."
    -----------------

    Rubbish. Football has always been dominated by money, occasionally one club or another produces a bunch of talente kids who come through at once, therefor enabling the cash to be used more effectively elswhere in the team (Ajax early 90's, United late 90's, Barca now etc.). There have only ever been a handful of teams who have won the Champions League/European Cup without vast resources and it hasn't happened since the 1980's.

    Porto may be relatively modest but like Red Star and Steaua before them they benefit from a big domestic advantage which means they will naturally attract the best players their country has to offer (and in Porto's case a hatful of Brazilian Dual-Nationals as well).

    You have to look back to, Hamburg and Nottingham Forest in the 1980's to see teams who were not among the top 2-3 finaicially in their own counties winning and it's not like that was a watershed either, it was a mere blip because further back you see only the juggernauts of Real, Inter, Milan, Benfica and co again.

    This pipe dream about football once not being money-dominated is just that, a pipe-dream. That time hasnt existed since the amateur days.

  • Comment number 84.

    #83

    Perfectly correct to say that money has always been in the game and that resources-will-out, but before you become an economist you might want to consider whether the relative gap or the differentials in resources between teams in different leagues have changed. My guess is that they have and that this effects the ability of those with less resources to compete. Look at the EPL greed league, or the Sky Premier League for want of a better term.

    Then there is the issue of how teams raise cash in their own leagues. In Germany no debt is allowed whereas the EPL is the most indebted in Europe.

    And there would have been more 'blips' as you call in the old European Cup than you will ever see in the CL. The former wasn't necessarily won by big 5 teams, the latter almost invariably is and will be in years to come. Why do you think that is? Differences in resources are more likely than not to affect the competitive balance of the league/ competition.

  • Comment number 85.

    Football is just like everything else in the world in the respect that money is god.
    If UEFA/FIFA ever want any kind of financial fair play, they must introduce the German system where the club owner can GIVE any amount of money he wants to the club, but he can't loan it a penny, this forces them all to work within a budget and prevents any club from getting into more debt than it can afford.
    We've seen far too many dodgy chairmen in England destroy clubs, simply because they wanted the limelight and the saddest thing of all is that the FA has allowed them all to do it, has anyone ever failed their 'fit and proper person' test?

    As for the imbalance between leagues, that's just standard supply and demand, the PL is the richest simply because more people want to watch it, the day that the Dutch (or most other) leagues, start to get big crowds for clubs that aren't the historically BIG ones they'll get more money, heck the Championship gets higher average gates than all but 5 other leagues in Europe, the PL, Bundesliga, La liga, Serie A and Ligue 1.

    Without droning on too much, I'll add that European law has done as much damage to football as anything else, look at the Bosman ruling, even in mid 90s fees, Ajax lost out on many 10s of millions simply because greed makes many players see out contracts, even when they're desperate to move on, just so they can get signing on fees that should really be transfer fees.
    FIFA/UEFA should enforce a sell-on fee in all contracts for players under 21/23, this would at least guarantee that some money filters down for the kids that are poached (and I use that word with honesty in mind) from smaller clubs and smaller leagues.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think a number of people here are misunderstanding me. It's not that I want "smaller clubs to get a wee chance but just not at centre stage with his 'elite'." I just recognize that under the current system it is effectively impossible for the smaller clubs to aspire to European glory.

    The basic problem is that the presence of a strong and vibrant Champion's League is fundamentally incompatible with strong and vibrant domestic leagues. Money will always pour into the highest level of any sport. When the European Cup was, while highly prestigious, essentially a side competition the real money was in domestic football. But with the growth of the international market, the emphasis will continue to be on the Champion's League because these are the matches that have the most appeal for international audiences.

    The current CL format is a hybrid between a true league and the old knock-out competition, but it seems obvious to me that there is far more potential revenue in a true pan-European super league than there is in the current format. I'm actually somewhat amazed that the drive to such a league has been held back for so long, but I still think it's probably inevitable that money will eventually win out.

  • Comment number 87.

    Which are the Big 5 Leagues?

    1. England
    2. Spain
    3. Italy
    4. Germany?
    5. France?

    I would argue Portugals league is probably as good as Frances and the Russians seem to be doing ok in the Europa League.

  • Comment number 88.

    Post 84

    Agree and spot on mate

    Post 87

    Correct

    Portugal is rated 9th. Its a good league I agree. But not as good as Russia (6th) or Ukraine (7th??). Dutch are 10th I think.

    Given their population size, resources and their developing market Russia is the one to watch!

  • Comment number 89.

    "Which are the Big 5 Leagues?"

    In terms of both gates and money, those 5 are still way out in front, I expect the Russian league to continue in growth and join that group in the next few years and by the time the 2018 WC comes around, they'll probably be ahead of France and amongst the very rich leagues.
    ATM, the Championship is still much better supported in terms of attendence than Russia or Portugal and in reality just as rich, even if the top transfer fees don't back that up.

  • Comment number 90.

    I watch a lot of football in the U.S. and the problems are the same in American sports.
    The NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA all have the same issues...too much pay....too high a price for tickets....
    The problem is accentuated by the behaviour of the players.
    In football, spitting, emptying one's nose, admonishing the referees are a part of the game that I would rather not see. However, I really could live with the spitting as long as the contempt toward the referee is curtailed.
    This year the NBA has warned its basketball players that any negative reaction towards the referee(s) will no longer be tolerated. Technical fouls, ejection from the game and fines are now the threat. The NBA has definitely cleaned up its act, thanks to a powerful commissioner (David Stern) who is not swayed by club nor public opinion.
    This needs to be put on the highest FIFA agenda. The F.A. and Premier League need to be proactive in showing the way.
    Watch the matches this weekend. The flagrant player reactions towards the officials will again be both pathetic and sad.

  • Comment number 91.

    I'm not surprised by Seedorfs comments tbh. The familiar moan over 'too many games' and the idea of a 'European super league' mooted. I love players saying that there is too much money in the game. Why? Because without it they'd just be millionaires as opposed to the multi millionaires of today........

    On the too many games, yawn, yawn. This is from a guy who's player just, and I do say 'just' played 500 odd League games. However, that is over a twenty year career!

    In the days of yore a player could expect to get in 500 game in just over a decade! And that, if they were hit by injuries........

    Yes they play more CL games, but they play (thanks to FIFA and UEFAs meddling) a LOT less league and cup football. Add in squad sizes that teams until recently would not have been able to either afford (or want)and the lie of 'too much football' is put to rest.

    As for 'pace' I watched a 'golden days' video of the 1970's recently, and wondered what the hell they are harping on about? Yes the ball wasn't hammered forwards as quickly, but the actual pace of the game was not much different.

    Has money ruined football? Well duh! Can we go back, can smaller clubs compete once more? No and no. However, if UEFA or FIFA were to accept the same principles as the business World, we could yet see a levelling off. This is because no business in the 'real World' would be allowed to carry on the way top football sides do. I notice they always sweep aside fans criticism when times are good with, 'football is a business like any other', but when times are bad, suddenly 'football is part of the community' and should get special treatment from the tax offices and business regulators!

    As for a big five leagues, who are these 'big five'? There has always been in terms of support finances and success a distinct division between European leagues, with England, Germany, Italy and Spain the top dogs, but the difference now is, is that the CL and TV money has made the gap unbridgeable.

    Frankly, unless the unthinkable happens and national govts, financial institutions and FIFA start getting tough with the big clubs, this will get worse and worse, not better.

  • Comment number 92.

    @65 G Bell - these are not just opinions, these ARE facts. I saw a fascinating documentary behind the scenes of the Ajax academy which has produced many of the world's finest players, both past and present. (sorry I can't post a link but it's available on ytube)
    It was clearly stated that players are produced to be sold at great profit when they have fully matured. This is not my opinion but the opinion of the club itself.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    "And Seedorf also had an idea for making clubs like Ajax, who do not play in a rich domestic league and lack wealthy benefactors, truly competitive in Europe again, too."

    So, what about the other clubs in the Dutch and other leagues then?

    What of teams like FC Utrecht, who've done extremely well in the past few seasons to qualify for Europe?

    "Seedorf, however, feels a further step is needed in order to balance out the inequality in TV money between, say, the Premier League and Dutch Eredivisie"

    Yes, I totally agree, but how is an European super League going to help that at all? It might help a handful of clubs who have a big following but just can't afford to keep their star players like Celtic, Rangers, Ajax, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Marseille etc because they're currently surrounded in a pretty weak league but what about teams like FC Utrecht, Sparta Prague, FC Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan, Shakhtar who don't have the history of Ajax and the likes but have still been extremely competitive in Europe. How is a European super league going to help even the competition out at all?

  • Comment number 95.

    @ Red Astaire from the Tottenham CL thread...

    "Magath is a very good coach"

    Yeah? Sacked earlier today. Like I said, what has he done in Europe? Nothing. Care to comment on that? Winning Bundesliga titles with Bayern isn't particularly remarkable. A good Bundesliga coach with a decent reputation in Germany. Beyond that? Nothing.

    And I was perfectly aware he won Wolfsburg the title, thanks! But the same Wolfsburg who are backed by Volkswagen...serious financial clout behind them. Impressive that he won Wolfsburg their first title? Yeah. A great achievement given Wolfsburg's backers? Not so much.

    I reiterate that Schalke are as easy as a CL QF draw as I've seen. Poor in the Bundesliga this season and currently in turmoil after sacking their coach. Still disagree!?

    And I didn't "compare" La Liga to the SPL. I merely pointed out that La Liga is slowly becoming as imbalanced as the SPL i.e two team dominance. "Inbalanced" being the key word, which you actually repeated in your response!!

    And Valencia a very good team? Not for some time. Cuper laid the foundations of a great team, Benitez capitalised on that. They're struggling to afford their new stadium and are forced to sell the best players. Not a good club whatsoever right now. Do your research!

    So, this time perhaps you'll address my points?

  • Comment number 96.

    A typical example of what is wrong with football occurred during the commentary on Chelsea's game. The commentator was 'glorying' over how many English teams were in the semifinals of the CL over the last few years as if this was a credit to English football. It might be a credit to the Premier League for all the money spent by these clubs on non English players but success in the CL does nothing for football in England.

  • Comment number 97.

    Although i'm only young I constantly hear stories from my dad about how football used to be, and seen lots of old footage to strengthen my belief that it is a complete;y different game! The problem is not with the game though, it is with people seeing this change and wanting it back how it was..

    But it's not going to happen! Money dictates too much! Yes, I would love to see more english talent nurtured to a world beater rather than spending £50 million on a Spanish player, or even buying a Dutch youngster that looks like he could be great.. But whilst money is pumped into clubs by forign owners this wont change! Maybe Fifa/Uefa's plans to stop these debts will go someway to acheiving this, who knows!?

    There are problems in the game as it is; so much gamesmanship, stupid amounts of money, corrupt governing bodies, agents (full stop.), too many young players who care about nothing more than their next pay check.. Unfortunately most of this there is little anyone can do about, and some is not seen as a major problem.. Others problems may have got NGBs talking but I wont hold my breath in hope they actually do something about it.

  • Comment number 98.

    @#38.

    £250.00 a week dole? I'd like to know where you sign on.

    A weekly JSA payment hovers around the £50.00 mark. Also, for the majority of cases, requiring 30 hours of contact time in a poorly staffed and under equipped training centre. Admittedly, travel expenses are paid, but you're still getting £1.67 for an hour of your time. Rounding up.

    If it was 250 quid a week I don't think as many people would be complaining about the cuts.

  • Comment number 99.

    @27 - they don't win the Bundesliga everytime because they aren't in it - they're in the Eredivise. Petty I know, but I'm a stickler!

  • Comment number 100.

    I agree with many people who say that money is killing the game, at the top of the pyramid at least. For a few years now I've been a regular spectator at my local non-league side and have to say that it's great value for money - a fiver gets me into the ground, if my kids are with me (both under 16) they get in for free!

 

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