If it were not so serious, it would be laughable.
“Elite” status is something which comes and goes in football.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Leeds United were one of the best teams in Europe. As recently as 2001 they played in a Champions League semi-final. It did not stop them spending three seasons in League One during the Noughties.
With three FA Cups and four league titles, Sheffield Wednesday are a big club, at least domestically. The problem is, the last of those trophies came in the 1930s. They are about to be relegated to League One for the third time since they were last in the top division.
Bradford City have played in the Premier League, it did not stop them being relegated from the Football League this season. They had to hire Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars to do that.
So what makes this particularly dirty dozen such big clubs?
Milan were biggest club in the world in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This season they were one of the 16 best teams in European club football's booby prize, the Europa League, but not good enough to make it to the quarter-finals. They are not looking likely to win Serie A either, for a 10th successive season. At least they are consistent.
That honour looks like to fall to Inter Milan, not good enough to make it out of this season's Champions League group stage this season, last won the trophy 11 years ago, four years after their city rivals.
Juventus won their second European Cup a quarter of a century ago.
Arsenal, who have never been European champions, are currently the ninth best team in England, albeit they will drop into the bottom half if one of the two teams directly below them win one of their games in hand.
Atletico Madrid and Manchester City, top of their leagues, have never won “old big ears” either. Neither have Tottenham Hotspur, who were last English champions in 1961. They have a job on at the moment to qualify for next season's Europa League but hey, if they get lucky next weekend they will at least win the League Cup, their first trophy since they last picked it up in the glory days of Juande Ramos, 13 years ago.
Chelsea have been European champions once.
Bayern Munich – you know, the actual European champions – have risen above this classless proposal to ring-fence themselves in a “super” league. German clubs, thank goodness, are prepared to listen to the views of their fans, whereas Arsenal, Atletico, Manchester United and Real Madrid have stuck two fingers up at the open letter their supporters groups signed this week in direct and crystal clear opposition to this move.
You would think Paris Saint Germain were the epitome of the “new-money thinking” driving this power and money grab but they have also steered clear. They are already in this season's Champions League semi-finals and in with a good chance of taking the title – which would be their first – after knocking Bayern out in midweek.
Ah, but what about history?
Well, it is less than a quarter of a century since Manchester City were losing to York City in League One, when they were a club with two domestic titles to their name, one more than Chelsea. Back then, when City were more laughed at than feared, Barcelona had only won the European Cup once, compared to two for Nottingham Forest.
City and Chelsea might be historic clubs, but they are not historically great clubs.
That is the beauty of football – greatness ebbs and flows.
Sheffield United were the ninth-best team in last season's Premier League, this season they are the worst.
Liverpool followed up their sixth European Cup by winning the 2019-20 domestic title by a canter. Now they are sixth.
Record-breakingly good though last season's title win was, it was their first for 30 years. Manchester United have won more English titles than anyone, but there was a 26-year gap between their seventh and eighth wins which featured a short stint in Division Two.
Increasingly, the clubs who regard themselves as Europe's biggest are trying to cement their positions, even though many are apparently oblivious to the fact they either no longer have that status, or never have.
In looking after themselves, they will cut the rest adrift, hoarding more money for themselves. They will probably try to keep playing domestic football, but only with feeder teams which further discredit the competitions they have turned their back on. Those league's should tell them where they can stick that idea in the rudest possible terms.
Take away the opportunity for “big” clubs to fall flat on their faces whilst “little” clubs like Leicester City carry off league titles they have been trying for decades to win and you destroy the while concept of competitive sport, the essence of what makes it worth watching.
If these clubs are as big as they think they are, they should put themselves up for relegation. Deep down, they know they are not.
Elite teams come and go. If the 12 want to go, let them. We will be better off without their unearned arrogance, thank you.
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