Champions League Invites

There has been some controversy, recently, with the big football teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, the big Premier League clubs and top Italian clubs arguing that the top teams that didn’t qualify for the Champions League could get special invites to it.

They argue that these teams have history and big crowds and their playing in the Champions League would be beneficial to the tournament.

Other clubs say that the big teams are just trying to rig the market so that they get into the Champions League even though they were not good enough to qualify for it.

Football Success on Merit

Football has always been meritorious. You get your rewards if you win more games than other teams.

There has never been favouritism for teams.

To win something, or gain entry to the top competition, the Champions League, you’ve got to earn it.

You don’t get into something, or win anything, due to the size of your crowd or audience on TV.

You win it be finishing first. You get into the Champions League by finishing in the first 4 in the Premier League.

That’s what the smaller teams, with smaller crowds, are saying.

Wildcard Invitations

However, there are instances in other sports where wildcards get used to allow entry to an event where you haven’t qualified.

Tennis is an example in the big 4 major events anyway.

Wimbledon, for example, has a number wildcards to hand out.

It hands some out to British players whose world ranking isn’t high enough to get them in but who the crowd, and TV audience, want to see. They usually go out in the first round.

Fallen in the Rankings

They also hand some over to good players whose ranking has fallen, often through injury, and who wouldn’t qualify for the main draw.

An example is Juan Del Potro who wont he US Open when he was 19 beating Roger Federer in the final.

Because of a wrist injury he was out for a year, came back, hurt it again and was out for two years.

He’s back playing again and would get a wildcard to the major tournaments like Wimbledon.

If someone is not injured but is a crowdpuller despite not qualifying by right he, or she, might get an invitation.

Golf Invitations

It’s the same for golf outside the majors this time.

Players can get invitations to most tournaments, not including the big 4 events, from the sponsors, or organisers, even though they are outside the top 100 or so.

However, this has never been the case in football.

The big teams are arguing that it should be and those who control the money and income for the game are arguing it too.

Satisfactory Solution

However, there is a solution that would maybe satisfy everybody.

Do have wildcard entries into the Champions League but don’t make them invitations.

Could you imagine precious wildcard entries being controlled by the likes of Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter in recent years?

It’s a virtual invitation to corruption.

No, there is a better way.

Invites by Ranking Over Longer Period

When working out UEFA rankings for the Champions League and the seedings, which determine how many clubs a country can get into the Champions League, they use the results of each team from a country over the past five years.

Why not keep four special wildcard entries but make them be earned over a longer period of time.

Offer them based on teams’ performances in the Champions League over a longer period than five years.

Have a rankings list of the top performing teams over the past 10, 20 or 30 years.

Offer the top 4 teams on that list, who have not qualified by right, a wildcard invitation.

That way, it remains purely on merit that you get an invitation but it helps well supported clubs who were successful previously to get into the Champions League.

Golf Exemptions

Another way to do it would be to do it like they do in golf.

In golf, you have what they call an exemption.

If you win a tournament, you are given automatic entry to that tournament for the next ten years (or more) as a prize along with the cup and money.

Football Exemptions

If that was operating in football, then Liverpool, Man Utd, Inter Milan and AC Milan would have been in the Champions League in recent years even when they didn’t qualify as all have won the Champions League over the past ten years. Liverpool’s exemption would have run out at the end of last season as they won the Champions League in 2005.

This would suit everyone and would not be seen as unfair. No one says that it is unfair in golf.

It is purely meritorious but over a longer period of time than the current five years.

Combination of Models

Indeed you could combine the two models spelt out above.

You could keep 4 wildcard entry invitations aside each year.

The first ones would be given to teams who have won the Champions League in the past 10 years but have not qualified for it by right this year.

With any wildcards left over you could offer them to the teams with the best record in the Champions League over a 10, 20, or 30 year period and who haven’t qualified this year.

This way it keeps everyone happy.

Entry is purely meritorious. It is earned.

It also means that great teams who are on hard times in terms of results don’t lose out on he opportunity to take part in (and make money from) the Champions League.

If it was in place now it would mean that both Man Utd and Chelsea would get into the Champions League next year – even if they don’t qualify by right.

What do you think of my suggestion?

Would it work?

Would it be considered meritorious?

Put your comments below.