The one- and maybe only- interesting bit of news to come out of the UEFA “summit” in Dubrovnik last month was the idea to scrap international friendlies and replace them with a competitive format- a league, if you will.
The idea behind such a league is, of course, a mainly financial one, but one based on a simple fact: the majority of international friendlies are a frightening bore that almost nobody goes to see live or watches on television. UEFA’s rationale is that rather than have 2500 people watch Belarus play Slovenia in person and only shut-ins and prisoners watch it on television, why not add competition (including promotion and relegation!) and money to the equation?
The details are fairly vague, but the preference seems to be to place the 54 European nations into 9 groups based on their UEFA coefficients. As of October 3, the groups would look like this:
Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France
Russia, Netherlands, Ukraine, Belgium, Turkey, Switzerland
Greece, Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, Israel, Cyprus
Denmark, Croatia, Belarus, Poland, Scotland, Sweden
Norway, Serbia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Azerbaijan
Georgia, Moldova, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland
Iceland, Latvia, Montenegro, Albania, Lithuania, Macedonia,
Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Liechtenstein, Northern Ireland, Wales
Armenia, Estonia, Faroe Islands, San Marino, Andorra, Gibraltar
The league would have “one-up, one-down” promotion and relegation between all groups (which, if we’re being accurate, should be called “divisions” or “tiers”) with each winner receiving a cash prize for winning its group (with the Group One winner’s prize being the biggest and Group Nine’s the smallest).
UEFA has also promised that there would be no increase in the number of matches nations play in a given year (assuming each nation already takes advantage of all the days set aside for international friendlies).
I would love to hear your thoughts on this idea.