SPORTS

OPINION: Champions League On The Cheap Leaves Clubs Short-Changed

  For a competition where such a massive pot of gold is at stake, Oceania Football Confederation has chosen to do the Champions League on the cheap this year. It
27 Apr 2015 08:54
OPINION: Champions League On The Cheap Leaves Clubs Short-Changed

 

For a competition where such a massive pot of gold is at stake, Oceania Football Confederation has chosen to do the Champions League on the cheap this year.

It has converted its flagship club tournament into a two-week, cost-cutting war of attrition in Fiji, with the home-and-away semis and finals of previous years shown the door.

They’ve been replaced by a tournament structure under which the winning team plays five games in under 16 days – mostly on the same pitch.

This is a step in the wrong direction.

The high-stakes prize at the Club World Cup is simply too valuable to be rushed through under such a quickfire structure.

OFC’s quirky Fijian experiment has produced some quality football and the Confederation deserves credit for their work in getting the games broadcast live.

But the knockout stages of the tournament need to stand alone, allowing the clubs to benefit from hosting these critical clashes, showcasing OFC’s talent around the Confederation and giving the best team the best chance of winning.

The OFC penny counters will have comfortably shaved off a few hundred thousand by doing it on the cheap in Fiji.

But they won’t have saved half as much as they spent on the exorbitant President’s Cup tournament which cost NZ$600,000 to host in New Zealand last November.

Can’t remember it? That’s because the tournament that included teams like Cayman Island champions Bodden Town FC, Bahrain outfit Busaiteen FC and a Fiji U-20 team hardly registered in the public’s eye.

The tournament is the brainchild of OFC president David Chung who is, for some reason, planning another one in August.

So while the Champions League and the OFC Nations Cup (which is also being turned from a home-and-away series into a one-off tournament) are cutting costs, the President’s Cup, which is not a FIFA qualifying tournament, is swimming in cash.

Team Wellington stood the best chance of profiting from the Champions League tournament structure as a two-week getaway at the end of their regular season.

They’ve shamelessly hoovered up the best of the rest from New Zealand’s ASB Premiership.

In came former Waitakere trio Aaron Scott, Jake Butler and Chris Bale along with Hawkes Bay frontman Sean Lovemore and Southern United’s Tom Jackson.

Wellington would find it hard to topple the dominant Auckland City over two legs in New Zealand, but a one-off final in humid Fijian conditions could be anyone’s game.

Auckland are the best team and should win the tournament. But if Wellington did, the trickle-down effect could represent a fundamental changing of the guard in New Zealand football.

New Zealand’s top players would suddenly migrate to Wellington for the 2015-16 national league season with an eye on the Club World Cup.

That raised the stakes in Fiji even higher.

 Feedback: sportsdesk@fijisun.com.fj




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