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With Talks Underway, 'Atlantic League' Could Have Lasting Effect On Domestic Football

Darren Holland
By Darren Holland
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A plan to introduce an 'Atlantic League' has been proposed amid fears of the widening gap between Europe's elite and 'lesser' clubs.

The discussion is in the wake of UEFA's latest rule which guarantees half the teams competing in the Champions League hail from the 'top four' countries (England, Italy, Spain & Germany).  Concerns were raised as the powers that be in Switzerland edge closer to forming a European Super League - separate from all domestic competitions.  If confirmed, a club would be invited on stature rather than merit.  Essentially, manufacturing football for the masses.

In theory, teams from Scandinavia, Scotland, Netherlands, Belgium and potentially Ireland would participate in the Atlantic League. It results in dominant teams from each nation leaving their respective domestic leagues to compete on a European level.

Hypothetically speaking, if Dundalk were to dominate Irish football for the foreseeable future - as so many expect them to do - they may be invited to the Atlantic League, playing the likes of Celtic, Rangers and Ajax throughout the season.


We can view this in one of two ways.

The optimist:

It is a great opportunity for the likes of Dundalk to play European opposition week-in-week-out. Undoubtedly it would boost attendances and interest for the club. The potential revenue from Celtic and Rangers coming to the town would be massive.  There is no way domestic football could compete with it.  While in turn, would allow for a more competitive League of Ireland structure as you remove a dominant team from the equation.


The pessimist:


However, it can be argued that Dundalk leaving the league - again, hypothetically speaking - would be of no benefit for Irish soccer.  While it may allow other clubs to compete for silverware, attendances and interest would surely decline.  One could turn their attention to Scotland for a similar example.  If the two Glaswegian clubs were to leave the SPFL, sponsorship deals for the league would drastically lessen. Initially, the same level of interest wouldn't be there across the board.

FC Copenhagen director, Anders Hørsholt, confirmed to Danish newspaper BT that he has attended meetings with representatives across Northern Europe to discuss implement an Atlantic League to counter-oppose the aforementioned plan by UEFA.

"We understand that the biggest clubs act as they do. But it also means that we must look at the market, it leaves and seek alliances with teams from other countries in the same situation. This is not a situation that we have created, but we have to deal with it, because we can not live with the alternative accounting. We must continue to develop as a club and be attractive to sponsors, the most skilled players and staff. Therefore, it is essential that we are at the European level."


Hørsholt concluded;

"It is still well in the future, but it may well be the result."

The fate of European and domestic football very much hangs in the balance but until 2021 - when UEFA's Champions League deal expires - this is merely an ongoing discussion.  However, the chances of it being introduced is becoming increasingly likely by the year.


[BT Newspaper]



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