Domestic Cups vs European Qualification
Being a lifelong Arsenal fan and for the most part through the Wenger-Era I’ve become accustomed to seeing my team qualify for Europe’s premier competition – the UEFA Champions League. In recent years the Gunners have been accused of a lack of ambition and branded as underachievers. For a club with the infrastructure, financial muscle and history of Arsenal is simply qualifying for the tournament enough?
There is an ongoing debate at sofasportsnews.com around whether as fans you would prefer to win one of the domestic cups or finish in the top four, meaning Champions League Qualification.
Matt Le Tissier (Ex-Southampton player) was quoted on sky sports last night as saying he would have preferred to walk out in a cup final for his beloved Saints than qualify for Europe and I’m sure there are plenty who would share that view.
As supporters, we all love a trip to Wembley and watching your team win a final, lift the trophy and create memories is what football is all about. The harsh truth is that the average football fan won’t remember the team who finished 4th and qualified for the group stages of the champions league but they will certainly remember the trophy winners.
Prior to me writing this piece I read a number of convincing arguments from both sides. It’s been a hot topic of debate in the ‘Football Fan Network – sofasportsnews.com’ Facebook group and rightly so.
Football has become a huge business right around the globe and to an extent you could argue that it’s beginning to lose its identity. The importance of tradition and history are gradually fading away and as a result clubs priorities have shifted drastically.
Take the Premier League TV deals for example; the benefits of the lower end clubs surviving in the Premier League outweigh that of winning one of the domestic cups. The same can be said at the top end of the table, Champions league qualification is more financially rewarding than winning either of the domestic cups or even both together! At the end of the 2015/16 season the Premier League published the earnings of each of the 20 clubs from the domestic and overseas TV revenues. The figures were crazy!
These figures are set to rise with the Premier League having secured a record breaking £5.136 billion deal for Broadcasting rights concerning the period of 2016-19, they sold for 71% more than the previous deal (2013-16).
The Premier League really is the promise land and so survival will inevitably be the priority and the main objective for the majority of clubs therefore devaluing the domestic cups further.
We’ve already established that money makes the football world go around and so let’s compare the financial rewards for winning either of the domestic trophies against those of qualifying for European competition.
FA Cup Prize Money: £2m (winners)
EFL Cup Prize Money: £100k (winners)
UEFA Europa League: €2.3m (Group Stage Participation)
UEFA Champions League: €12.7m (Group Stage Participation)
Even the purist of football fans would have to admit the difference in financial reward is staggering! Still surprised that certain clubs would rather finish in the top 4 than win one of the two domestic trophies?
As fans we all want to win things, enjoy a day out, celebrate a final victory and we don’t have too much interest in the financial affairs of our clubs. However, when you consider all of the factors in the modern game it’s clear that European Qualification must be prioritized in order to keep up with your rivals.
Supporters think with their hearts whereas, club owners and shareholders think with their heads! From a business point of view (which football has become) its a no brainer and this goes a long way in highlighting the disconnect between the fans and their clubs in the modern era.