That, in case you hadn’t guessed, was sarcasm.
Michel Platini, our erstwhile UEFA president, elected by gaining votes from smaller nations thanks to his intention of stripping the top leagues of so many European spots, is, as predicted, having to change his plans.
Having had his proposal rejcted to cut the number of teams England, Spain and Italy have in the Champions League to three, he has a genius new plan. Allow the FA Cup winners the fourth spot, not the fourth place team in the league.
Fabulous. So now there’s a new way into the top club competition, should freshen things up, right? Wrong.
Predictably, if the FA Cup winners come in the top three, and have therefore qualified anyway, their place is taken by the fourth team in the league. And if the fourth team win the cup, they obviously qualify.
So, it only makes a difference if the FA Cup winners come from outside the top four, i.e. there aren’t called Chelsea, United, Arsenal or Liverpool.
So, let’s have a look at those winners, starting at last season and moving backwards through time.
2007. Chelsea. Big whoop.
2006. Liverpool. Still top 4.
2005. Arsenal. Yep.
2004. Man Utd. Yawn.
2003. Arsenal. Yes, us again.
2002. Arsenal. And again.
2001. Liverpool. Oh, the novelty.
2000. Chelsea. Getting the point yet?
1999. Man Utd. Those pesky top four teams are good, no?
1998. Arsenal. Just for a change.
1997. Chelsea. Would this really help, Michel?
1996. Man Utd. I didn’t think so, either.
1995. Everton! Hurrah! Finally a team from outside the top four break the monopoly. But of course, they did this two years ago by finishing fourth in the league, too, a whole ten years after the cup win, so that’s not really such a massive issue. Platini wants a shock team in there. Everton aren’t that team.
1994. Man Utd, Here we go again.
1993. Arsenal. Lovely.
1992. Liverpool. Wake me up when this is over.
1991. Spurs! Ooo, another non-top four team (whatever they’ll have you believe).
1990. Man Utd. What a shocker.
So, none of the last twelve FA Cups have been won by a team outside the current top four, and only two of the last nineteen. This genius new plan would have about as much effect as firing a water pistol at a burning down house.
So, tell me, just how is Platini justifying his salary?