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Bring Back The European Cup, The Cup Winners Cup And The UEFA Cup

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After reading Michel Platini’s ideas on expanding the Champions League to 64 teams, I thought I would write an article on my thoughts.

European competition has been under many guises, but the ones I enjoyed the most were the European Cup and the Cup-Winners Cup.

The European Cup, for those that don’t remember, was UEFA’s elite competition for the champions of Europe’s leagues which ran between 1955-92. It was a straight knockout format played over two legs with the final held at a pre-determined venue. The tournament was first won by a Real Madrid which contained the brilliant Alfredo Di Stefano, who beat Stade de Reims 4-3 in the final.

For the nostalgic amongst us, it’s pretty likely United would have won in 1958 had it not been for the Munich air disaster, and it’s hard telling how many more times that team would have won it. As we all know, George Best, Bobby Charlton and Co., did win it in 1968 when Matt Busby’s team beat Benfica 4-1 in the final at Wembley after extra time.

The Cup-Winners Cup was won by United in 1991, as Mark Hughes scored twice (though Steve Bruce would question one of those) in a 2-1 win against Barcelona in Rotterdam. I went to all home games during that campaign but missed out on the final because of a lack of funds but it’s the uniqueness about the competition that I enjoyed the most.

Sure, we didn’t really play anyone decent until the final that season where Barca played Dynamo Kiev and Juventus on their way, but that’s the luck of the draw

I’ve never fully enjoyed the Champions League format, even though United have won it twice.

The reason I don’t like it is because the name of the competition doesn’t ring true. In 1999 United won the tournament, as we all know, but the champions of England were Arsenal.

I would like to see all three previous tournaments return – the two above-mentioned and the UEFA Cup – because I do feel that there should be a separate tournament for champions only and one for winners of domestic cups.

The Champions League and any future incarnation of it will always be purely money-orientated for the businesses of football clubs. It hasn’t been a sport for the love of it for some time now and many clubs will jump on the bandwagon of the money train rather than look to previous competitions which held more prestige.

Of course, UEFA and the clubs involved won’t listen to the humble fan, though, and we will eventually have a European competition of 64 teams which will devalue any tournament. Let’s face it, the Europa League isn’t the best thing to have been conceived and to merge the two competitions is, once again, money-orientated.

Bring back the European Cup, a competition for champions. Bring back the Cup-Winners Cup, a competition for domestic cup winners. And bring back the UEFA Cup, a competition for the also-rans. These three competitions were structured to reward teams based on merit, and that, to me, is a fair system all round, and a better one for the fans of the sport.

By Jay @Jarisleif