Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's the Europa League That Platini Needs to Tinker With

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's the Europa League That Platini Needs to Tinker With

Article excerpt

Byline: Barclay's account Patrick Barclay

THE most plausible explanation for Michel Platini's 64-team Champions League is that he was thinking aloud. There's no harm in that -- and his interviewer for a French newspaper must have been delighted -- except that people might take it seriously or, even worse, attempt to earn points within UEFA by advocating further study of it.

In practical terms, it is a non-starter: you don't even need a scrap of paper to work out that it would merely transfer to the Champions League many of the unappetising matches that have become typical of the Europa League since its dilution of the knockout format, offering television a default backdrop of empty seats.

The debate about what to do with Europe's second competition must be conducted on a higher level and the first thing to establish is that we need one as a means of bridging the gap between a country's leading clubs and the rest.

A perfect example would be Fulham, whose run to the Europa League Final gave the club not just a past to savour -- who could ever forget Clint Dempsey's winner against Juventus? …

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