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Serie A: Bigger football clubs are getting wise to the Champions League demands

Michel Platini, the Uefa president, said last week the power of the Champions League has 'damaged' lesser competitions, writes Ian Hawkey.

Juventus, which holds a nine-point lead atop Serie A, is among a handful of big-time clubs who can invest in new players from Champions League participation. Alessandro Di Marco / EPA
Juventus, which holds a nine-point lead atop Serie A, is among a handful of big-time clubs who can invest in new players from Champions League participation. Alessandro Di Marco / EPA

Michel Platini, the Uefa president, has never been entirely happy with the format of his organisation's flagship property. Reform of the Uefa Champions League is high on his priorities.

He said last week the power of the Champions League has "damaged" lesser competitions. He meant above all the Europa League, an orphaned sibling to its more glamorous rival. But if Platini has the health of the broader European football pyramid in mind, he should also be mildly concerned about the effects of a pre-eminent Champions League on leading domestic leagues.

Much as he, as a former Juventus player, would like to see his old club do well in Europe, he can hardly be riveted as he follows their defence of the Italian title.

At the weekend, Juve moved nine points clear of second-placed Napoli. And Serie A is far closer at the top than the English Premier League (12 points between first and second), or Spain (13), or Germany (20).

It used to be possible to argue that one of the benefits of the Champions League, with its 15 midweek dates, was that it distracted heavyweight clubs so much that they let points slip on domestic weekends, thus enlivening local leagues.

But several super clubs, especially those who can guarantee annual riches to invest in new players from Champions League participation, have learnt to assemble squads big enough to compensate for that. The result is a lack of suspense in the title races of domestic leagues.

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