Football’s reliance on financial backing is becoming stronger, and governing bodies needs to do more…
Last season Atletico Madrid won their first La Liga title in 18 years and reached the Champions League final. This year, they are once again keeping pace with both Barcelona and neighbours Real. And yet, they are still very much Spain’s third team.
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Earlier this week, Atletico were even described as the ‘forgotten champions’ by one journalist, which truly sums up the unfortunate nature of one of the biggest concerns hanging over the beautiful game.
Why is this the case? Because Atletico Madrid simply don’t have the financial or political power to maintain universal appeal. They won plenty of admirers during last season’s success, but the majority of people would still rather watch El Classico because of what it represents.
Similar examples can be seen across Europe, where the continent continues to be dominated by the same brand names that have always ruled the roost – Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Juventus, and the afore mentioned Spanish duo of Real and Barca.
The only way a club can propel themselves into this elite group is by spending a huge amount of money – as Chelsea did in the early 2000’s, and how both Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain have attempted to do in more recent years.
Financial Fair Play has attempted to curb the spending of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, but a variety of loopholes, loan signings and payments made through staggered instalments have helped the giants quickly adjust.
In the summer transfer window both Manchester United and Barcelona spent well in excess of £100m as they looked to rejuvenate themselves after poor seasons, and the success of those that defeated them last term was quickly forgotten as a result.
Liverpool have not won England’s top flight in two decades, but maintain their status as one of England’s ‘biggest clubs’ because of their history and former glories. And that is ultimately what determines a big club – history and money.
Atletico have done brilliantly over the last 18 months plus, but are unlikely to maintain such levels of success because they can’t match their rivals in either category. It’s the sad fact that prevents new teams emerging, and keeps the same old sides at the top every year.
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