April 23, 2018 / 6:28 PM / 9 months ago

Soccer fans will lose interest if domestic game is too predictable - EPFL

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Some European fans will shun soccer if domestic championships become too predictable, the European Leagues (EPFL) umbrella group said on Monday after a season in which Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Paris St Germain ran away with the title.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Swansea City - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 22, 2018 Manchester City's David Silva celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

The trio wrapped up their championships with several games to spare while Barcelona are all but certain to win La Liga, leaving Italy’s Serie A as the only one of Europe’s top five national championships with a genuine title race.

Many smaller leagues have also turned into one-horse races.

European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson said after meeting with some of the clubs that “failure to make changes will hurt the future of European football.”

The European Leagues argue that the distribution of revenue from the continent’s elite Champions League competition creates a snowball effect because a greater proportion of money goes to the clubs who are already the wealthiest.

The EPFL fears that changes to the Champions League format from next year, when more places will allocated to the bigger leagues, will increase the disparity between richer and poorer clubs still further.

“We need to avoid getting into a negative cycle, where we would see our fan base erode and we would lose our position as the world’s dominating sport”, Dutch league chief executive Jacco Swart said.

Olsson added that the European Leagues would strive for a more even distribution of revenue across all teams in Europe and to keep European competitions open to clubs from all countries.

“The setup of the European competitions needs to support the domestic competitions, with good representation of the different leagues”, he said. “If countries don’t have clubs competing, it will reduce the value of their national competition.”

Olsson said he was hopeful that changes would be made for the next European competition cycle, starting in 2021.

“We think the decision makers within UEFA are wise,” Olsson said of European soccer’s governing body. “If they are, there will certainly be changes for the coming cycle.”

Reporting by Bart H. Meijer; editing by Brian Homewood and Ken Ferris

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