Stillitano brings debate of European soccer's birthright' into the open

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.

“Maybe that 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 the playoffs.

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 really historic."
7 comments about "Stillitano brings debate of European soccer's birthright' into the open".
  1. ROBERT BOND, March 4, 2016 at 8:54 a.m.

    the idea of an LC is what sustains football...........Charlie, please get a DFB side for your tourney.......

  2. j bapper, March 4, 2016 at 11:27 a.m.

    I can't believe he is even proposing this... the stupidest idea I've heard in a long time. It's not Leicester's fault that all these big spending clubs suck this year. If they can't finish in the top four with the money and resources they have, they need to look at themselves, not some bail out from a guaranteed CL spot.

  3. Wooden Ships replied, March 4, 2016 at 2:13 p.m.

    Goodness, I agree J. Preposterous. Wonderful arguments to be made? Give me some reasons why some should be allowed when they haven't earned it. Sounds like so many things in the United States these days. So what if you've win it before or you're a name brand team. This has got be a joke. Give them a participation or congeniality award, send them on their way and tell them better luck next year. Additionally, as soon as US pro sports, especially soccer, enact promotion-relegation, the sooner I'll follow it-them more.

  4. Gus Keri, March 4, 2016 at 12:56 p.m.

    I believe any club that has won the UEFA Champions League should be allowed into the tournament every year regardless of their domestic position. But this should not be at the expense of Cinderella stories like Leicester City. There is place for both of them.

  5. Ric Fonseca, March 4, 2016 at 3:09 p.m.

    Hola Mr. Wooden Ships!!! How the heck are you? Got a chuckle outta this article, but then I sorta remembered about Chuckie Stillitano, didn't he used to or is he still working for or has/had some sort of position with US Soccer? I vaguely remember him back in the Rothernberg/Steinbrecher days and beyond, so I wonder what he's doing there? Maybe Gazidis, formerly with MLS in the early days, "invited" him over to sort of stir up the pot... Just wonderin'

  6. Nate Nelson, March 7, 2016 at 1:17 p.m.

    Its all about the MONEY, imagine you a club who scouts and develops players so you win without requiring a Brinks truck every week for player payroll...Hard work and winning is a threat to the big clubs who discard and sign players to huge contracts. So Stillitano says to protect the large clubs because they spend big money...foolish, but its the philosophy that the USSF and MLS have; they feel MLS clubs have "invested" in the sport so they should have special consideration..Doesn't that "SUM" it up? The establishment of soccer needs a movement like Trump, but it sad that FIFA is considered a "victim" by authorities. The leadership of the USSF needs new blood or else like establishment politicians they will just keep paying themselves!

  7. Vince Leone, March 7, 2016 at 5:25 p.m.

    England is lucky that UEFA uses the past 5 years to calculate UCL slots. Based on the past few years, there should be fewer EPL teams in it.

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