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Whither Football?
Trader Column
Written by RamsTrust board member Bob Donald   
Thursday, November 19 2009

Today the championship, tomorrow, where? The challenge facing teams in the Championship has always been to prepare for promotion and to play in the Premiership, or else to insure that, if they fail and have instead to face relegation, they can sustain a playing group that get back to the Championship quickly.

During the course of a season any team can rise to the top or sink to the bottom.

If, as we have seen already, we rise too quickly the Premiership can be an unforgiving place to play, with relegation to follow rapidly. If the trauma is too great the downward spiral can continue into even lower divisions.

Thus far the Rams have avoided dropping further, though we do seem to be flirting with relegation again. Maybe it will always be thus for Rams fans?

Where is football going? Certainly there are doubts about how much longer the top teams - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United – will remain dedicated to English football. The two Glasgow giants – Rangers and Celtic – are struggling with their existence in Scotland. In Europe teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, , Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus in Italy and Bayern Munich in Germany all face similar questions. All teams mentioned now rely on the TV rights etc. from the Champions' League or Europa League rather than their domestic leagues. Only time will tell how things will work out.

When the European Cup moved from being for Champions only to involving teams that hadn’t won their national Championship the die was cast. The so-called Champions League has taken over. The next step is for all the top teams in Europe to play in a European wide League.

The question is how teams will qualify for such a league and how promotion and relegation could be handled.

One way would be for the teams in the relegation positions to be replaced by the champions from their domestic league. Derby would progress to the European League at the expense of Manchester United if they won the Premiership and United finished in one of the relegation places in the European League. Similarly Bayern Munich could be replaced by Werder Bremen etc.

The more successful English teams in the European leagues are, the less likely that any other teams from England will have the chance to gain a European place. This will be the same all over Europe, though some teams will gain because they will form a group of yo-yo teams, not good enough to stay up among the elite but too strong at home.

Given that Derby are currently rebuilding and are looking for players who may be stars in the future rather than buying established or failing stars, we may well find that the Rams are well placed for the new regime.

If the money follows the “big” clubs in to the European league, then clubs remaining in the English or Scottish leagues will have to cut their cloth accordingly. The model that Derby seem to be following may well be the only one to guarantee continuing existence and success.

There have already been signs of moves in the direction indicated for the top teams in the Premiership. In early rounds of the various Cup competitions we have seen teams representing Arsenal and Manchester United (to name but two) which were not up to full strength. This is not to say that normal team rotations were not in play nor that there may well have been injury concerns involved in team selection, but, if the game had been a crucial European match, would the same selection criteria have been applied?

Whatever direction the game may well take, Derby are moving in the right direction and due credit must be given to GSE and Nigel Clough for this.

As Derby fans we are required to moan at the results and the way the team is playing, but that has always been the case. The current regime at board and at team management level will ensure that we can argue and moan long into the future. Not every team is in such a good position.

 

The Trader column is for individual members of RamsTrust to put their point of view across in the media. Although the views will not contravene the principles of the trust, the views expressed are entirely personal to the author and do not necessarily represent RamsTrust policy.

 

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