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cope1
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Oct 11, 2013, 11:46 AM

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UEFA Nations League Can't Post or Reply Privately

This was reported in a couple of papers this morning: http://www.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/246651.html

The idea is to replace international friendlies with some kind of international league as part of a place to make international football more appealing to fans.

The suggestion in this morning's Guardian (first paper I've bought for about five years - waiting for the wife during a hospital appointment) suggested 9 divisions of 6 teams each with promotion and relegation of 1 team in each direction. Didn't mention how many games each team would play.

So the first questions are, would this fit into any kind of schedule? Here is a breakdown of the past ten years' England fixtures:

49 (5) International Friendlies

9 (1) World Cup
30 (3) World Cup Qualifying

8 (1) European Championships
20 (2) Euro Qualifying

The number in brackets is the average per year (so the first figure divided by ten).

This leaves 5 matchdays for such a league per year. If it were played over a 2-year cycle you could have a home/away league but this would eradicate 'prestigious' fixtures against non-European teams. It might also cement the status quo in as much as the big teams would play the big teams regularly while the little teams would play each other. It would also, potentially, harm the appeal of the bigger fixtures because as well as England playing Germany in WC and EC finals, they'd also play them twice more inbetween in this league (until they got relegated of course).

One more point, the 54 nations at a recent meeting were apparently in favour of investigating the idea but did not want it to have any effect on existing qualifying schedules.

I quite like the idea of some kind of 'merit table' where the games mean a bit more than they currently do (the FIFA rankings I don't find make things interesting) but I'm not sure how practical it all is.

Anyone else have any views?


HantsLondoner
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Oct 11, 2013, 12:59 PM

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Re: [cope1] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I think there are far too many international matches already.

Especially when they disrupt the domestic league season several times a year.
I'm not a great apologist for the Premiership but it must be frustrating for fans and players with the lack of momentum, risk of injury, etc. caused by this.

If they want to improve the appeal of international games then maybe they should make them more exclusive, and have less qualifying games for competitions.

Because there are so many qualifying games now I can't actually see the point of international friendlies (apart from a money-making exercise) rather like Man U playing pre-season in Asia or whatever.

I think the bulk of the qualifiers should be played in the summer when there isn't a World Cup or Euro Champs/equivalent (e.g. 2011, 2013, 2015). Then we will have some meaningful international football every summer and the domestic seasons don't get so disrupted.



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Richard Rundle
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Oct 11, 2013, 2:42 PM

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Re: [HantsLondoner] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

...and the players would never get a break.


HantsLondoner
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Oct 11, 2013, 2:46 PM

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Re: [Richard Rundle] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Do they now? With lucrative pre-season tours, Europa League qualifiers......

They could even have a winter break with the Saturdays they'd save (although I know the pros and cons of that have been discussed already).



If you're going to/been to a Hampshire Premier League match, I'd really appreciate you filling in a questionnaire - available in the Groundhopping/General section, or just PM me for a copy. Thanks.


cope1
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Oct 11, 2013, 4:30 PM

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Re: [HantsLondoner] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I'm not necessarily a fan of the idea but you all seem to be overlooking the statistics posted above which show that if friendlies were turned into 'league' games there would be no difference whatsoever to the number of games played. Indeed, given that you could almost have a straight, single round knock-out to decide which 23 (plus host) of the 53 (not including host) associations qualify for the Euros, you could easily end up with fewer games than at present.

I like the idea of having summer tournaments to decide WC and EC qualification though.


Richard Rundle
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Oct 11, 2013, 4:38 PM

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Re: [cope1] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Would summer football in the likes of Cyprus & Malta be *that* different to summer football in Qatar?


cope1
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Oct 11, 2013, 4:48 PM

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Re: [Richard Rundle] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately


In Reply To
Would summer football in the likes of Cyprus & Malta be *that* different to summer football in Qatar?

Yes, because they didn't get awarded the World Cup at the same time that England were denied. And lots of 'us' go there to get p*ssed.
Tongue


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Oct 12, 2013, 11:38 AM

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In Reply To
I'm not necessarily a fan of the idea but you all seem to be overlooking the statistics posted above which show that if friendlies were turned into 'league' games there would be no difference whatsoever to the number of games played.

Except that some of those friendlies are so called glamour matches against the likes of Brazil and those played on summer tours. How would these critical games be shoehorned into the calendar?


cope1
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Oct 14, 2013, 1:02 AM

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Re: [Part-Timer] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

As noted, there are on average 5 friendlies a year. That allows either a single round-robin league for 6 teams or a double RR over two years. That's before you consider the number of qualifiers now not required for the Euros because of the increase in places. You could have groups of 3 there are so many places on offer, which seriously reduces the number of dates required.

I don't think there is any logistical problem with the idea. I suspect the problem is more likely to be that having the top teams meet once a year - not including major tournaments - would reduce the appeal. I suspect managers would also prefer to have friendlies in which they could blood new players (i.e. glorified training sessions).


(This post was edited by cope1 on Oct 14, 2013, 1:04 AM)


stugg93
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Oct 14, 2013, 4:51 PM

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Re: [cope1] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I think i'd prefer a single round robin of 8 teams over 2 years with 2 relegated, whilst leaving 2 games spare for prestigious international friendlies with non-european sides (i.e. Brazil etc).

If they did go ahead with this idea and it was based on current FIFA rankings England would find themselves in the 2nd group as they are ranked 11th best in Europe.

If it was 8 teams per group would be the following

Group 1
Spain
Germany
Italy
Belgium
Netherlands
Croatia
Portugal
Greece

Group 2
Switzerland
Russia
England
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Sweden
Denmark
France
Ukraine

Group 3
Montenegro
Slovenia
Hungary
Romania
Czech Republic
Norway
Serbia
Albania

Group 4
Austria
Turkey
Wales
Iceland
Armenia
Finland
Ireland
Slovakia

Group 5
Scotland
Bulgaria
Poland
Israel
FYR Macedonia
Belarus
Northern Ireland
Estonia

Group 6
Georgia
Azerbaijan
Lithuania
Latvia
Luxembourg
Moldova
Kazakhstan
Cyprus

Group 7
Malta
Liechtenstein
Faroe Islands
Andorra
San Marino
Gibraltar

so I'm sure the British press will be firmly against the idea once they realise England aren't with most of the big boys


Mister TwoU
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Oct 14, 2013, 6:08 PM

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Re: [stugg93] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I like it. It gives all UEFA teams a schedule of games versus teams of reasonably similar standard, especially useful for the smallest nations, which is something they have needed for developmental purposes for a long time.

Nine groups of six, double round-robin over two seasons is perfect, but more promotion/relegation admixing is a necessity ~ MUST BE 2-up/down imho.

Group 1
Spain
Germany
Italy
Belgium
Netherlands
Croatia

Group 2
Portugal
Greece
Switzerland
Russia
England
Bosnia & Herzegovina

Group 3
Sweden
Denmark
France
Ukraine

Montenegro
Slovenia

Group 4
Hungary
Romania
Czech Republic
Norway
Serbia
Albania

Group 5
Austria
Turkey
Wales
Iceland
Armenia
Finland

Group 6
Ireland
Slovakia

Scotland
Bulgaria
Poland
Israel

Group 7

FYR Macedonia
Belarus
Northern Ireland
Estonia

Georgia
Azerbaijan

Group 8
Lithuania
Latvia
Luxembourg
Moldova
Kazakhstan
Cyprus

Group 9
Malta
Liechtenstein
Faroe Islands
Andorra
San Marino
Gibraltar


My only real reservation is exactly how such a Nations' League structure & the UEFA Coefficients Calculator would affect and influence each other over both short and long-term periods.



Professional cretin.


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Re: [Mister TwoU] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

The problem I see with this sort of structure played over two seasons is that it would take a country at level six (Poland for example) ten years to reach the top level. We have seen examples in the past of countries suddenly unearthing a 'golden generation' (and I am thinking more of Poland in the seventies, Denmark in the eighties, and Belgium now than England in the nineties). By the time they reached the top their 'golden generation' would be gone. A 1-2-4-2 pyramid-like structure (with a wonky bottom obviously) would improve this situation. Relegation could then be two down, one up until the bottom layer which could be 1 down, 2 up.


cope1
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Oct 15, 2013, 11:20 AM

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Re: [stugg93] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

The UEFA proposal was divisions of 6, which gives you 9 divisions. Whether they play once or twice is then the question. As noted, the teams could play each other once each per year and still have space for additional friendlies if the number of Euros qualifiers was reduced, which is clearly do-able given the increase in finals places.

The proposal I saw had England in Div 1, which must mean they use UEFA rankings rather than FIFA rankings (which makes sense). I agree that it should be as flat a 'pyramid' as possible to avoid it taking 10 years for a country to find its level either if it suddenly has a golden generation or if its talent pool suddenly dries up. No point having a team in Division 2 getting spanked while someone in Division 8 is winning 8-0 every game.

To that end I'd suggest six divisions of 9, with teams playing each other once over a 2-year period. That would allow a 1-2-3 pyramid. It would also allow an even number of home and away games for each team. Using current UEFA rankings (taking from Wiki) the divisions would look like this:

DIVISION 1
Spain (1), Germany (2), Netherlands (3), Italy (4), England (5), Croatia (6), Portugal (7), France (8) and Russia (9).

DIVISION 2
Group A: Greece (10), Switzerland (13), Serbia (14), Slovakia (17), Romania (18), Bulgaria (21), Finland (22), Republic of Ireland (25) and Scotland (26).
Group B: Czech Republic (11), Sweden (12), Turkey (15), Denmark (16), Ukraine (19), Israel (20), Poland (23), Norway (24) and Northern Ireland (27).

DIVISION 3
Group A: Austria (28), Lithuania (33), Belarus (34), Montenegro (39), Albania (40), Armenia (45), Kazakhstan (46), Faroe Islands (51) and Andorra (52).
Group B: Bosnia and Herzegovina (29), Hungary (32), Belgium (35), Cyprus (38), Estonia (41), Iceland (44), Liechtenstein (47), Malta (50) and San Marino (53).
Group C: Slovenia (30), Latvia (31), Wales (36), Macedonia (37), Georgia (42), Moldova (43), Azerbaijan (48), Luxembourg (49) and Gibraltar (54).

I have divided the teams in Division 2 into groups by simply splitting them A/B/B/A... (i.e. 1st goes in to 'A', 2nd and 3rd into 'B' etc) so the two groups are about even. Same for Division 3 except A/B/C/C/B/A... .


(This post was edited by cope1 on Oct 15, 2013, 11:26 AM)


stugg93
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Re: [cope1] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Just as a side point, does anyone else find it astounding that Belgium are ranked 35th in Europe according to UEFA rankings? I know people moan about the FIFA rankings but at least its been responsive to their sudden surge in quality. Belgium in UEFA are still ranked below Scotland!


HantsLondoner
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Oct 15, 2013, 11:57 AM

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Re: [stugg93] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

All good ideas, but would any of this really attract fans to more international games?

We have the World Cup and the Euros here, and their (overblown) qualifiers - would a league of a format like any of these really be attractive? Not to me.

And would it help one of the main reasons for international friendlies - to try out new players/formations?

And how would we fit in another fixture with Brazil or Argentina? Wink



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cope1
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Oct 15, 2013, 12:15 PM

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Re: [HantsLondoner] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

The question is whether they would be more attractive than the current meaningless friendlies and I can't see how they wouldn't. They would, at the very least, continue to be meaningless friendlies but they would also have the bonus of counting towards something. As for using them as 'test' matches, I personally feel that when both sides turn up with the intention of trying things out it rather defeats the object. How can you test a formation against a team which is itself trying something new and not quite sure what they're doing?

As for question of fixtures against Brazil or Argentina, that's been asked and answered about three times now on this thread alone!


cope1
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Oct 15, 2013, 12:22 PM

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Re: [stugg93] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately


In Reply To
Just as a side point, does anyone else find it astounding that Belgium are ranked 35th in Europe according to UEFA rankings? I know people moan about the FIFA rankings but at least its been responsive to their sudden surge in quality. Belgium in UEFA are still ranked below Scotland!

I got them from Wiki and it seems that page isn't up to date. Here is a revised version:

DIVISION 1
Spain (1), England (2), Germany (3), Italy (4), Portugal (5), France (6), Russia (7), Netherlands (8), Ukraine (9)

DIVISION 2
A: Belgium (10), Greece (13), Austria (14), Israel (17), Cyprus (18), Croatia (21), Poland (22), Serbia (25), Norway (26)
B: Turkey (11), Switzerland (12), Romania (15), Czech Republic (16), Denmark (19), Belarus (20), Scotland (23), Sweden (24), Bulgaria (27)

DIVISION 3
A: Hungary (28), Moldova (33), Kazakhstan (34), Montenegro (39), Albania (40), Malta (45), Liechtenstein (46), Faroe Islands (51), San Marino (52)
B: Slovakia (29), Slovenia (32), Bosnia and Herzegovina (35), Latvia (38), Lithuania (41), Luxembourg (44), Wales (47), Estonia (50), Andorra (53)
C: Azerbaijan (30), Georgia (31), Finland (36), Iceland (37), FYROM (42), Republic of Ireland (43), Northern Ireland (48), Armenia (49), Gibraltar (54)


cope1
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Re: [cope1] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

My concern would be for those teams in Division 3. It's easy enough to sell out France v Spain or England v Germany but Armenia v Gibraltar is another matter. Perhaps there should be three groups in Division 2 and then three groups of 6 in Division 3 with teams playing tournaments hosted by one or two countries instead of leagues played across the continent.


Mister TwoU
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Re: [cope1] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Quite liking your 3-tier nines, but feel your 1-2-3 fails to achieve one of the main reasons for establishing the competition ~ namely giving UEFAs most 'junior' nations a pool unto themselves and thus allowing all of them a reasonable opportunity to win a few matches, and to even win a whole competition once a decade or two(!).
To that end I'd suggest altering your vision to a 2-3-1 format, with a final play-off between winners of Div.1A & Div.1B.
Three teams would relegate from each Div.1, replaced by the top-two from each Div.2.
The bottom team in each Div.2 would be relegated, allowing top-three from Div.3 to replace them.
Across each of Div.1 & Div.2 every competition, the teams to be redistributed afresh using UEFA rankings to produce divisions of approximately equal overall strength ~ hopefully allowing for a reasonable number of different opponents for each and every team, from one competition to the next.

I'm still concerned that this league-format will fail to pool teams into the correct Division-level per official rankings, however with only three tiers, and effectively only really affecting tiers one & two, six-up/six-down ought to reduce likelihood of that problem arising.



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cope1
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Re: [Mister TwoU] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

My second suggestion was for 1-3-3 with the bottom tier being groups of 6. I do have reservations over who is likely to watch those games, hence my suggestion that they be played as tournaments hosted by one or two nations. This would give the 'little guys' (a) the chance to host something and (b) the chance to win something. Of course, trying to help San Marino win anything is going to require a 1-team tournament. You can only do so much to give people a chance.

Edit: in terms of how to group teams to keep things fresh, no reason not to draw from seeded 'pools' ensuring each group is roughly even in strength but changing things around a bit each time.


(This post was edited by cope1 on Oct 15, 2013, 3:25 PM)


ladderman
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Quote
As noted, the teams could play each other once each per year and still have space for additional friendlies if the number of Euros qualifiers was
reduced, which is clearly do-able given the increase in finals places.





I know you're not the only to say that, but I really don't think it will happen. the reason there isn't two-stage qualifying for the Euros and WC is that the smaller nations need the "big" games, and less of those games=less money.It even applies to a less extent to the bigger nations.
Personally, I'm against the Nations League because of the pressure it will put on the England manager to not experiment. The Press will go spare if we get relegated so he'll be forced to make less changes. And while our Press might be the worst, they're not the only ones with unrealistic expectations of their national team.


(This post was edited by ladderman on Oct 15, 2013, 5:20 PM)


wishmaster3211
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Re: [ladderman] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I actually like this idea, but lets forget the ever more dubious rankings and actually have fixed Regional groups where possible, only using the rankings to split up these groups. Playoffs afterwards as per Champs Lge. Groups like the system used in American sport. That way you would have "home internationals" back and it would address the fact that people wouldn't be interested in watching Liechtenstien V Malta. Would this sort of system work or are parts of the Continent too saturated with teams of a similar level?

The Scandinavian Group would be interesting: Iceland, Faroes, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland.

Option to move either Finland or Denmark depending on relative status (I am sure the Finns love playing RussiaWink).

I think this would be fun and create a lot of spectator interest.



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stugg93
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Oct 16, 2013, 1:31 AM

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Re: [wishmaster3211] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

As far as I can see their are four problems with this idea.

1) is that certain areas of Europe would have high political tensions if they were regionalised. The Caucasus would be a problem with Armenia and Azerbaijan and the possibility of Georgia and Russia also being in the same region. There is also the Gibraltar and Spain issue and Kosovo-Serbia if Kosovo becomes a UEFA member in the future.

2)Some areas are weak and some are strong. For example, western and central Europe are particularly strong while the Baltic regions and Belarus are relatively weak.

3) The geographical spread of Europe makes it difficult to have consistent sized groups around the continent that are regional in basis. For example, if you take the Scandinavian Group as the basis for the rest of Europe then the remaining 48 members would be needed to be split in 6.

So to my mind you would have something like:

Scandinavia: Iceland, Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland

Eastern: Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Belarus

Eastern South: Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary

Eastern Baltics: Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria

Central-Eastern: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia

South-Eastern: Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Albania

Central-Western: Germany, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland

South-Western: Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Gibraltar, Italy, San Marino

North Western: Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and France?

France for me was the spare nation so they ended up being put with the British and Irish teams, creating a 6 nations replica barring Italy. I think this would be complained about to no-end.

4) As you may have noticed even if regionalisation occurs correctly then you get the conundrum that people hate of having a very strong group intermittent with a minnow e.g. south-western Europe.


blackdouglas
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Eastern Baltics: Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria


Has someone moved the Baltic Sea??



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ladderman
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Re: [blackdouglas] UEFA Nations League [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

C'mon, it moves every day Wink

The whole idea of regional groups & play-offs defeats the object, it's just creating another European Championship. The only games of interest to England in that set-up would be ones against France & Scotland - which is why we dumped the Home Internationals - and the only game of interest to the French would be against England.

If it's going to happen (and the idea's grown on me a bit) it needs to be on the basis of the original suggestion - promotion & relegation - so it's completely different to what we have now.

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