Exclusive research: PTG Champions League Diversity Index
Exclusive research from Play the Game (PTG) in the PTG Champions League Diversity Index puts the spot light on the lack of diversity when it comes to Champions League entries.
The survey works by dividing the total Champions League (CL) appearances over the past 15 years for each nation by the number of different clubs that took up those entries to give an index figure.The average figure for the index is 3.44.
The research shows that entries in the CL from the English Premier League, which supplied three of the four semi-finalists in this year’s competition, are amongst the least diverse in Europe.
The Ukraine enters the same teams in the Champions League more often than any other country in Europe according to exclusive Play the Game (PTG) research.
The PTG Champions League Diversity Index shows that the Ukraine has amassed 24 entries in the Champions League over the past 15 seasons and Dynamo Kiev and Shaktar Donetsk have taken them all.
To head off a possible breakaway European league, UEFA transformed the competition into a money-making machine for the continent’s biggest clubs and last year’s winners Manchester United pocketed €43 million.
Since the CL first moved to a group format in 1992/93, Manchester United have earned €261 million yet leagues with other big-earning clubs are far more diverse than the Premier League.
Bayern Munich has earned €233 million from the CL since 1992/93 but 10 German clubs have played in the competition during the period of PTG’s survey, which starts from 1994/95.
The same amount of Spanish teams have also played in the CL since 1994/95, when the competition moved to four groups with direct seeding for larger teams and sides from smaller nations dropped into the UEFA Cup.
In 1997/98, the competition began accepting non-champions in response to pressure from the G14 grouping of major European clubs and smaller nations returned but were forced to play in qualifiers during most teams’ off-season.Compensation for this comes through solidarity payments from a fund expected to total €10.3 million from the 2008/09 CL, which can amount to hundreds of thousands of Euros for teams eliminated in the first qualifiers.
Even at a lower level, this money has helped eradicate competition. In Moldova, Sheriff Tirasopol has taken up the country’s sole CL slot every year since 2001/02. The team’s iron grip on Moldovan football had such an effect that one top flight league game in Moldova attracted an official crowd of a single spectator and local paper Sport Plus put up a prize of 100 litres of beer to the team that could topple Sheriff.
To try and widen the diversity of the competition and bring in teams from smaller countries, UEFA president Michel Platini tinkered with the qualifying process this season. His proposals were watered down after pressure from bigger clubs but had an immediate effect with the first teams from Cyprus and Belarus qualifying for the group stages. The changes were welcomed by ambitious smaller UEFA members, who recognize that there could also be a downside.
“The Football Association of Montenegro believes that the reforms will give chance to smaller members clubs, which will help the development of football in small countries,” says FAM media officer Ivan Radovic.
“It will, for sure, lower the quality level of the Champions League, at least of the group stage, but we believe it will take it a step away from the richest clubs private league that it seems destined to become. If someday one of our clubs reaches group stage there will be a big chance that it will probably dominate the domestic league for years.”
According to the PTG index, Bosnia has the most diverse range of entries. Andorra and Montenegro were at the opposite end of the index to Ukrainebut both have only been entering teams for the last two years
For nations that do not expect to provide a team for the league stages, the competition is not always a cash cow.
Ingi Samuelsen, media & marketing secretary at the Fótbóltssamband Føroya in the Faroes, says: “The football league in Faroe Islands is a small league with just a few professional or semi-professional players. There is no money included directly in winning the Championship.
“Therefore the money from UEFA for participation in the Champions League and Europa League (EL) qualifying rounds is the ‘prize’ for winning the Cup-tournament, the domestic championship or become second or third. I do not regard this money as having any disproportionate impact on Faroese football.
“Our clubs can draw opponents from far eastern Europe. It is rather expensive to travel to and from Faroe Islands, and if the opponent is an unknown club without any interest from the Faroese fans, the participation in CL or EL can be an outlay rather than an income for the Faroese clubs.”
For less isolated UEFA members, the money is still having an affect. Some entries for the 2009/10 season have been confirmed and FC Pyunik Yerevan will represent Armenia for the seventh successive season, while Levadia Tallin will be Estonia’s entry for the fourth time in five seasons.
Play the Game Champions League Diversity Index:
Where an index is equal, nations with the greater number of CL appearances are ranked higher, then alphabetically.
*Liechtenstein do not enter teams in the Champions League.
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