Give Charlie Stillitano
credit for setting out the case for and against a closed European Champions League. The Relevent Sports chairman, the architect of the International Champions Cup, says
England's big five clubs -- Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United -- discussed the issue when he met with them on Tuesday in London. But getting the clubs themselves to
openly discuss the issue is another thing.
As it looks more and more like Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United will miss out on next year's Champions League, talk of them being
guaranteed spots in a reformatted Champions League grows.
“What would Manchester United argue: did we create soccer or did Leicester create [it]?” said Stillitano on radio station SiriusXM
. “Let’s call it the money pot
created by soccer and the fandom around the world. Who has had more of an integral role, Manchester United or Leicester? It’s a wonderful, wonderful story -- but you could see it from Manchester
United’s point of view, too.”
The EPL race with Leicester City first and Tottenham second is one of the best in years -- if you are a neutral.
is absolutely spectacular unless you are a Manchester United fan, Liverpool fan … or a Chelsea fan,” Stillitano said. “I guess they don’t have a birthright to be in it every
year, but it’s the age-old argument: U.S. sports franchises versus what they have in Europe. There are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful elements to relegation and promotion and there are good
arguments for a closed system.”
The difference, of course, is the argument isn't whether the big five should be in the EPL, it's whether they should be in the American equivalent of
Based on the Red Sox's contribution to baseball, it would be foolish to ever bring up the idea that they should be relegated because of their (back-to-back) last-place
finishes, but no one would ever suggest that they should be guaranteed a place in the playoffs each season.
Stillitano isn't proposing throwing out the standings. But he suggests clubs
have a complaint about how the money is divvied up: "I could make a lot more money, I can be a lot more visible, I can help my sponsors out but right now I am locked into doing certain things that