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THE TOP 4 CARTEL, TIME FOR A CHANGE?


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The Premier League is often referred to as the best in the world. But just take a look at who wins it every year.

Far from being the pinnacle of achievement, it is an exclusive members club where only three of the teams are capable of jostling for the title, and where the top four get to trouser a fat wad of Champions League moolah every season.

What of the other 16 sides? Well, they get to bumble around and enjoy their time playing with the big boys - but the top flight is a league where Champions League accomplishments are pretty much wrapped up every year and the other 16 teams have to scrap over the handful of UEFA Cup bones thrown down to them, like cur dogs fighting for scraps underneath the table at a Bacchanalian feast.

Thanks to the big teams in Europe, we now have only one good European tournament in the shape of the Champions League. The Cup Winners’ Cup is now extinct and the UEFA Cup is a ridiculously huge catch-all - the opiate of the under-achieving masses - which takes Herculean stamina to win and often upsets teams’ domestic seasons (see Ipswich) and offers a pittance in TV money.

Everyone is instead tuned in to the Champions League - surely an ironic misnomer in itself as Liverpool have about as much chance of winning the Premier League as Mike Tyson does of joining Girls Aloud.

I suggest that the UEFA Eurocrats pull their fingers out and reduce the Champions League places per country to a maximum of three. This will be a seismic change amongst the smug and aloof Big Four, as the team that finishes outside that top three will be stripped of Champions League revenue, shivering and prone to attack from the clubs hovering just behind them.

There are three clubs that are very well positioned financially to launch an assault. Aston Villa’s Randy Lerner, although very prudent with his dosh, is more than capable of bankrolling an attempt for the Champions League places, Newcastle’s Mike Ashley is passionate and rich in equal measure, and finally the biggest underachievers, Tottenham Hostpur.

Spurs are the great white hope of the Premier League. If they can crack the Big Four, then maybe it will splinter and we will once again enjoy a league which, as things stand at the moment, is so horrifically unbalanced that the team that finishes fifth are declared the winner of the "league within a league".

Tottenham grossly underperformed early this season under Martin Jol, a season which had promised so much before it began. But, with Juande Ramos and his fitness ethos in place, they have a more-than-capable squad to truly challenge the big boys - even before they signed Luka Modric.

A stuttering start from Liverpool or Arsenal next time around could be punished by Spurs.

Do Tottenham have the best chance of breaking the monopoly of the Big Four? OR is it yet another false dawn for the supporters?

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This has to be a typical English response to someone elses achievements. The English top flight has long gone as a 'lets put them all in the pot and the best team wins'.

Do you honestly think at this stage that an English team would actually win anything. In fact it would be hard pushed to field four teams with top quality English players. So what would happen? exactly what is happening now. The top clubs with all the money would buy up all the best English players and retain the status Quo. The remainder of the clubs would be full of Championship players and so on down the leagues.

Wether we like it or not the game is now massively global and money talks. If you were a Blackburn/West Ham or god forbid a Plymouth Argyle supporter would you if given the opportunity of having a billionaire owner say Nah!!!!! I won't support them because its not fair. I somehow don't think so.

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I think you're wrong ECPL and I think Coopsie has made some very good points. I'm a Hammer, let's get that out of the way. I think the only team who can break the stranglehold is Villa.

I like the idea of cutting the four to three but why not go further and cut it to two, or even one. Champions League should be what it says on the label: Champions. if you can't win your league, you ain't a champion, so get stuffed.

Great post Coopsie.

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Another fine post Coopsie, and an interesting topic to debate.

To be honest ever since UEFA buckled under the pressure from the 'top' clubs and allowed the top countries to have up to 4 teams entering the 'Champions' League, we have started to see an era of monotony around the top leagues in Europe.

The Champions League eligibility was first expanded in the season 1997/98 and let's have a look at a couple of facts regarding league winners in the nine full seasons since then,

England - Won by Man Utd, Chelsea or Arsenal for the past 9 seasons

Spain - Won by Barcelona, Real Madrid or Valencia in 8 of 9 seasons

France - Won by Lyon for the last 6 years straight

Italy - Won by AC Milan, Inter or Juventus in 8 of 9 seasons

Germany - Won by Bayern Munich or Werder Bremen in 7 of 9 seasons

Portugal - Won by Porto, Benfica or Sporting in 8 of 9 seasons

Holland - Won by Ajax or PSV in 8 of 9 seasons

So as you can see, the leagues have been dominated by the teams (the last two examples aren't the best as, historically, those particular leagues has always been dominated by 2 or 3 clubs) that consistently qualify for the lucrative Champions League.

Gone are the days when provincial teams like Notts Forest, Derby, Napoli, Hamburg, Monchengladbach, St Etienne, Athletic Bilbao or Sociedad would win their respective leagues.

Which era is better is open to debate, but for me the old way was the most enthralling, with realistic hopes for more clubs to reach the very pinnacle of the game, as opposed to the ever increasing closed shop that is the Champions League.

Fans of the very top sides will obviously argue that it's up to the chasing packs to up their game, and whilst I agree with that to a certain degree, we have seen what happened to Leeds Utd when they tried to chase the dream (I think you'll find them playing in the League 1 playoffs very soon).

So I agree with Coopsie that UEFA should cut the number of entrants from each country into the Champions League, hell, let's make it straight knockout from the beginning with no seeding again, just like the good old days!! This will also have the knock on effect of improving the quality of the UEFA Cup, we could also bring back the Cup Winners Cup (that might be a step too far, but I was getting all reminisceful!). Another sidenote to this is that there should be fewer games in a season and so our pampered players can get the rest they always moan about not having!!

Sadly I don't see the above scenario happening in the near future as the top clubs around Europe are more worried about fleecing every possible income stream and making sure that everything is rosy in their own garden instead of thinking about the good of the game.

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Pablo and Peck 1961, THANKYOU.

ECPL and Mark C, why the bitter responses and taunts of jealousy?.

I figured I'd written an open and honest account of what I think is wrong wit the game at the moment. Ok, fair enough to debate or question my opinion BUT why feel the need to throw around accusations of jealousy?. I think that jealousy is a sickening emotion and have absolutley no reason whatsoever to be jealous of anyone or anything.

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As a matter of full disclosure, I support Liverpool.

LFC are a part of the "Big Four" but I notice that's a bit debateable, too, as there are those who argue that they're not really close to challenging for the League title. (Let me add that they're getting closer, but we'll save that for another thread).

As for reducing the number of CL spots, I'd raise two questions:

1. Would the smaller, presumably shorter format mean there was less money in the CL? Would the TV rights pay as well?

2. Assuming that the money wasn't all that much less, then wouldn't there be a trade of the top four for the top two or one? In other words, if ManUre or Chelski got into the CL year after year, then not even Arsenal or Liverpool could catch them, because the latter clubs would be out of the money. It'd be a case of the rich gette richer -- and fewer -- which would produce the opposite effect Coopsie intends.

European play is one of the ways to try to keep some other squads competitive, it seems. Adding luster to the UEFA Cup would be great, too, but as long as it's the "second tier" cup, it won't pay as well and basic problem remains.

I'd suggest actually expanding the number of euro spots -- if Villa or Spurs had access to CL money, they might move up more quickly and surely? (Although I'm not in favor of any scheme that means more success for the Bitters.)

That or the Premier League needs a spending/salary cap or "luxury tax" like some North American leagues have to try to create more parity and competition. Anathema, I know -- but if making the season less of a foregone conclusion is the goal, it works.

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Coopsie you like Pablo have responded to something I have not said. I'm afraid like Pablo you have not read my posting I have absolutely no idea where the 'bitter response and taunts of jealousy' comes from because it certainly does not come from me.

I merely pointed out that money is the great evil. Please have another read. I have read it over and over again but your response does not relate to my posting. You seem to have missed the point and I am being critised for in part agreeing with you.

I repeat it is all about MONEY. Over the years every club has had the opportunity to get the big bucks in or those that did like Leeds blew it. They have not suceeded and now bleat unfair play. If England won the World Cup or European Championship every time we would be bleating at our success because the FA were able to inject billions into the England set-up. Of course not.

I agree something has to be done and you have put forward as did peck1961 some alternatives or suggestions.

Unfortunately it is a British/English disease that we have always carried in that a succesful team is aplauded for its efforts in reaching the top and derided and hated once they get there. And that is virtually any sport.

I have accepted a long time ago that unless a major sugar daddy came to Plymouth Argyle the chances of the Pilgrims reaching the top flight is very small. Major football clubs have been the target of speculators who for some reason they can get away with and that is they can borrow on the vlaue of the existing club to buy it.. Well if the Americans or anyone else for that matter can do it then why not the Brits.

There is also management. Take Stoke and West Brom they will get I think £60m just for reaching the premier league. Great, but then you have to look at who is gouing to manage that club, who has the ability of bringing in quality players, certainly not the two that got them there.

I have not posted a bitter response or a jealous one. Crikey if I did then you would get full barrell. I have given a measure response to a debate.

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Guest Jim

Good post Coopsie, however,

Do Tottenham have the best chance of breaking the monopoly of the Big Four? OR is it yet another false dawn for the supporters?

Would be an oligopoly, not a monopoly.

Also, the title "Replying to THE TOP 4 CARTEL, TIME FOR A CHANGE?"

The meaning of the word cartel...

noun

1. A combination of independent business organizations formed to regulate production, pricing, and marketing of goods by the members.

2. An official agreement between governments at war, especially one concerning the exchange of prisoners.

3. A group of parties, factions, or nations united in a common cause; a bloc.

I wouldn't say the top four are in collaboration to keep all the other clubs out of the top four places!

Sorry, just being picky!! :D

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Guest Bushranger

Whilst i hope and pray one day QPR will be competing for champions league places i except we are a million miles away at present,i just wish tottenham supporters would be as honest!!What makes them think they are any closer than the rest of the wannabes,they play in a smallish stadium ,waste more money than any other club year after year and therefore let down there supporters expectations more than most clubs!!Be realistic or as coopsie would tell me dont be "ignorant"!!

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A couple of points on your original post. You mention that Liverpool do not have much chance of winning the Premier League. Whilst not making them favourites by any means, I don't think you can discount them (or Chelsea or Arsenal) like that. A reminder this season, Liverpool lost 4 games, Chelsea and Arsenal lost 3 game each, Man U lost 5 games. Therefore, the Champions lost more games (we all know that the draws were the undoing of the other teams). Furthermore, look at how many Man U scored in the last minute (Spurs away for example when everyone thought you'd beaten them, and more recently, Blackburn and Middlesbrough). There is a very thin margin (at the top) between success and failure. One or two of Man U's goals not going in, a different story.

But that's football, and why we love it.

Too early to say what will happen next year. We do need to know more about who is staying, who is going and who is coming in. However, with some confidence, I would predict even now that the top 4 will be the same again (perhaps in a different order). And as for Spurs, I think you will do better next season, and enter the top 10. But with Villa, Portsmouth, Everton, Blackburn et al, it will still be tough.

UP THE GUNNERS

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Tell you what Mangle mate, Spurs had bloody well do ALOT better next season. We have the highest paid manager in the country and he has to bloody well earn those wages. In my humble opinion, anything outside top 6 would be unacceptable BUT they should be aiming no lower than 4th.

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Whilst i hope and pray one day QPR will be competing for champions league places i except we are a million miles away at present,i just wish tottenham supporters would be as honest!!What makes them think they are any closer than the rest of the wannabes,they play in a smallish stadium ,waste more money than any other club year after year and therefore let down there supporters expectations more than most clubs!!Be realistic or as coopsie would tell me dont be "ignorant"!!

A step in the right direction for QPR Bushranger?? http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/t...qpr/7398350.stm

As for your rant about Tottenham supporters. The thing that makes us believe that we are closer than any of the others to breaking the top 4 is the fact that unlike ALL the rest, we have NO DEBT, are a self sufficient business and are the 11th richest club in the WORLD and we don't even have Champions League football. How many teams are in at the start of every Champions League competition?. We are better off than all but 10 of them.

We are miles ahead of any other club that does not play Champions League football (in terms of finance and structure) and this is the reason we think we are closer than any of the other clubs outside the top 4. Just think, if we hadn't wasted all that money you said about, we'd probably be inside the top 5 and take into account that we are the 11th richest club in the world with our "smallish stadium", just imagine where we'll be when we move into our new home in 3 or so years?.

It's all about structure my friend and the stats that are quoted would suggest that we are the best structured club to press the top 4. That's not being "unrealistic" or "ignorant", it's being objective and honest.

Just to once again point out that I said that Spurs would NOT be breaking into the top 4 this season and I seriously doubt whether we'll do it next season either BUT if Ramos is able to attract the likes of Luka Modric (who most of the big boys throughout Europe wanted) and other CLASS players aswell, I don't think it'll be too long before the target is reached.

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Well Coopsie,I just have to say mate.Agree with every thing you say.

Spurs,I believe are the best equipped to challenge the top 4 next season.

For all the reason,s you state.

Ramos is well paid.The difference with this guy is,I think Spurs supporters

trust him.

When Berbatov goes.You just know Ramos will replace him with quality.

Was there on Sunday for the boys lap of honour with the Carling Cup.

It still give me goose bumps.God knows what I will be like when we do

achieve Champions League status[Wait for the witty comments]

Your a true yid Coopsie.

Good on yer mate.

COYS.

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Fair point Sammo.30 pts is a lot.But I think the point Coopsie made was,

it may not happen next season,we may have to wait a little.

Must remember when Ramos took over we were in the bottom three,with

our worst Premeirship start.

Next season is a big one for Ramos because he will more or less have the

squad he wants and not working with someone else,s.

If it dont go well,intresting to see how Ramos reacts,under a bit of pressure.

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I think Everton have the best chance at breaking into the top 4 on a regular basis (they finished 4th in o4/05) but its still a massive ask. They've got a top astute manager though and with a few more tidy signings they just might do it?

Should Q.P.R.s bosses start spending Abramovich style however, im sure it wont be long before we start talking about the top 5 teams in England! :c:

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Guest Bushranger

While signing the likes of cerny and ramage is a step in the right direction i think it shows that QPR 's owners will not be spending abramhovic like this summer.The owners have actually said they will not be throwing money at the team in one fell swoop but will be building the club as a brand(they have already redesigned the club crest) and successful buisness first !!

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Guest postman pat

before during and after every champions league game on the telly look at the big name companies that are advertising.its not eufa that is in charge of the champions league its the blue chip companies and whilst these companies are in control the purist amongst us will always lose out. :SM_carton:

when all of the so called provincial clubs won the european cup it was because they were champions and the only team from their country to qualify. ;)

the champions league is named for one reason only. the g14 or 18 or how many it is are just heading towards a european league of their own. where will this put the likes of everton spurs villa etc. :glare: if you aint in you sink or swim :c: :blink:

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Coopsie

I see where you are coming from with spurs but is Ramos really the right man for the job since winning the carling cup the run of poor results you went on was astounding which poses the question about this mans motivational skills, and before people come back at me saying that they had nothing to play for that is crap a lot of those players are playing for their futures at the club, there is also a little thing called pride and the 40,000 fans that pay their money every week to be entertained "in the spurs tradition"

just asking the question mate

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Fair comment about Spurs failure to perform since the Cup win.

But Ramos made a comment around that time,saying he already

knew who was staying,and who would be leaving.

Maybe players like,Berbatov,Lennon,Chimbonda,Kaboul,Tianio,Lee,etc

knew we had won a trophy,wont be here next season ,so why bother.

Ramos knew we were safe from relegation,and never had much choice

on leaving these players out.His only option was to play maybe some

youth players.

Looking ahead, new goalkeeper,Hutton Woodgate,a FIT Ledley? Bale,

Luka Modric,Robbie,plus a few more signings,plus some of our young

talent to come through,Huddlestone,OHara,Peckhart,Rose,and now

Bostock. I think things are going in the right direction.[Fingers crossed]

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Coopsie

I see where you are coming from with spurs but is Ramos really the right man for the job since winning the carling cup the run of poor results you went on was astounding which poses the question about this mans motivational skills, and before people come back at me saying that they had nothing to play for that is crap a lot of those players are playing for their futures at the club, there is also a little thing called pride and the 40,000 fans that pay their money every week to be entertained "in the spurs tradition"

just asking the question mate

somersetspur has answered elequently enough for me not to go too much into this.

All I'll add is that I totally agree about what you said about the run of results after the cup win, absolutely disgraceful.

However, although I personally think that Ramos should have used every game after the cup final to take a look at and bed in youngsters such as Taarabt, Peckhart, Rose, Dervitte, Gunter, Alnwick because the experience would have been invaluable to their development and it would have given him a chance to see how they cope in the premiership.

The thing is, I think that although as somersetspur said, Ramos was quoted as saying "I already know who is staying", I think he actually meant that he knows the CERTAIN stayers ie, King, Woodgate, Hutton, Keane, Bale. I think that he then used every game to see who was actually up for the fight of proving their worth and discover who is worthy of a place in HIS SQUAD. I think he got the answers he was after and even more besides. I would say out of everybody that he had to assess, he would only have been happy with Malbranque and O'Hara.

I'm of no doubt that he was also looking to see how versatile certain players within the squad may be, hence playing Zokora at centre back rather than bringing in Rocha or even one of the youngsters from the reserves, playing O'Hara at left back,centre mid and left wing, using Tainio as right back etc etc.Also notice that he used the last 3 games to see how Bent and Keane worked together.

He (Ramos) is regarded as one of the best managers in Europe and although I can only hope that he's able to live upto the hype, I can definately say that if he can get Spurs playing anywhere near the kind of football that Sevilla played under his leadership, I will be a VERY happy supporter indeed.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Helston Patriot

I think its a good healthy method that for example top 4 English teams go into the champions league. More games to watch, more revenue, teams like Villa and Everton have something to play for :P

Don't forget that Man Utd won the Champions league in 99 as Runners up in the Prem the Previous season!

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