Uefa’s plan to scrap international friendlies and replace them with league format
It’s not often Uefa come up with something interesting but this is certainly a novel idea.
International friendlies are a pack like liquorice allsorts; a mixed bag. For every decent game, like Ireland’s 2-0 win over Italy a few years back, there are loads of duds, like the recent 0-0 draw with Wales.
We’re not the only ones a little disenchanted with the international friendly, and it seems Uefa have a plan, and a pretty interesting one, to try and solve it.
Instead of playing games that genuinely don’t matter around the World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, Uefa are thinking of launching a nine-division international league, covering all 54 nations, from 2018.
A report in today’s Guardian, first reported in Norway’s Dagbladet paper, says that the idea was floated at last month’s Uefa meeting in Croatia, where it was seen as a very good way to drive interest in the international game.
Dagbladet carries quotes from the Norwegian FA president, Yngve Hallen, who said: "It is true that a series of games is one of the models being discussed."
The plan would be to split the 54 members of Uefa into nine groups based on ranking (see below for the full list) and that the games would be played around the qualifiers from 2018. A geographical set of divisions was also proposed.
The winners of each ‘league’ would get a large cash prize and promotion to the next level. The bottom team drops down a level for the next cycle.
With Uefa now owning the TV revenue from internationals, this would be a great way to increase revenue as virtually every international game would at least have some importance.
Using the current rankings, Ireland would be in the fourth division with Serbia, Norway, Slovakia, Turkey and Israel. It would mean no, or a much reduced opportunity for at least, glamour games with the likes of Brazil or Argentina, and for the big countries like England and Spain, that could be a deal breaker.
Still, we think it sounds like a way to have meaningful games all year round, probably with bigger, more engaged crowds and fewer dull matches.
Sounds like a potential winner to us. Let us know what you think.
First division: Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy, England, Portugal
Second division: Russia, Greece, Croatia, Sweden, France, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Third division: Ukraine, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Hungary, Czech Republic
Fourth division: Ireland, Serbia, Norway, Slovakia, Turkey, Israel
Fifth division: Slovenia, Austria, Romania, Montenegro, Poland, Finland
Sixth division: Scotland, Armenia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus
Seventh division: Wales, Northern Ireland, Albania, Iceland, Lithuania, Macedonia
Eighth division: Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Kazakhstan
Ninth division: Liechtenstein, Faroe Islands, Malta, Andorra, San Marino, Gibraltar