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Back of the Net
European football big-wigs have decided it's time to sex-up the Champions League's little brother, so to speak. Back of the Net's Paul Watson has the details...
A leaked UEFA document has outlined plans to improve the image of the Europa League by introducing a series of ‘dramatic new storylines’ and ‘mental stunts.’
The Europa League has struggled with its image since being re-branded in 2009, as clubs have often attached more importance to their domestic campaigns than the coveted title of '17th best team in Europe' famously inscribed on the oversized trophy.
In recent years various managers have rested key players, fairly important players and utility players for Europa League ties, instead opting to field an assortment of youth players, forgotten men and dangerous loners.
As a result, major TV channels have been less interested in acquiring rights often opting to protect their image by broadcasting Champions League previews or hardcore pornography instead.
Last season’s competition was overshadowed when winners Atletico Madrid forgot to stay for the trophy presentation after their 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao and had to have the Coupe UEFA posted to the Estadio Vicente Calderon, where a surly caretaker refused to sign for it.
That's Diana Ross under the helmet, by the way...
Now UEFA are desperate to raise the profile of the competition that was once labelled ‘a punishment’ by former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp and have taken some bold measures.
In a leaked document, UEFA have outlined plans to ‘inject energy’ into the Europa League by adding several high-profile guest teams as wild cards, including the Dutch 1974 World Cup team.
In the knock-out stages there will be no corners or throw-ins and any game level on aggregate will be decided by a game of musical chairs.
Amongst the more controversial suggestions is UEFA’s idea of a fraught love triangle between Tottenham, Club Bruges and FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
“Some of the suggestions are a bit radical,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers admitted to FourFourTwo.com. “But when you look at the lethargic way we played against Udinese I wonder whether it maybe would have been better to set the ball on fire in the 55th minute.
“And I’d certainly have backed us if it’d gone to the chairs – I’ve made no secret that I’ve got my five takers lined up already.”
Editor's note: this isn't a serious accusation and all quotes are fictionalised. But you knew that, because you're not stupid.
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