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Apr 17, 2009

Dirty cash, I want you

UEFA and FIFA seem to be united in their concern over the domination of the Premier League, but it's a behemoth partly of their own making.

The game's never ending chase for revenue streams are endorsed by the powers that be. Let's be honest, UEFA do not organise the Champions League, sell its TV rights for millions and sign lucrative sponsorship deals for the good of football. Think of those first few rows of seats at some grounds which have to be closed off so supporters do not distract from a sponsor's message.

And the more money they get, the more they want.

The chase for cash is akin to a snowball rolling down a hill, forever gathering size and momentum; once you've set it off on its seemingly interminable course, it's very hard to stop. And the more money the big clubs get, the more power follows and that means UEFA have to pull on the kid gloves to keep them sweet.

That does not make Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore right, however. He comes across as a pompous, self-important and holier-than-though administrator interested purely in the gains the Premier League can make. But we've known that since long before the disgusting 39th game plans, when the League thought it was so important it could ride roughshod over the rest of football in a bid for world dominance.

For that, you can't blame the likes of Sepp Blatter for screwing his face into an ugly grimace at the mention of the Premier League.

The Premier League's new-found dominance of European football shows no sign of coming to an end. Indeed, with the Big Four almost certain to continue their monopoly of the Champions League places, it would be bold to predict any change next season.

Dominance, of course, is nothing new. Football does and always has been cyclical and the balance of power naturally tends to shift.

Take a look at the period 1989 to 1998 when, from those ten European Cup/Champions League finals, only one did not feature an Italian team (1990-91) with seven consecutive years of Italian interest. And between 2000-2002, Spain supplied four of the six finalists. That is certain to be matched by the Premier League next month while it will be the fifth consecutive season an English team has been involved at the end.

Was there such uproar at Serie A and La Liga during their periods of superiority? Maybe they were not so disrespectful to the rest of the footballing community.

It is true, however, that the Premier League has suddenly become stronger and the true force of continental competition.

Without a European Cup finalist since the tragic events of Liverpool v Juventus in 1985, Manchester United ended the barren run in 1999 and won the trophy in breath-taking circumstances. The next English interest came in 2005, which means only one English club made the final in 20 years.

We could see a second season in a row for an all-English final. Last season was not a one-off - La Liga (2000), Serie A (2003) in recent history - but never has one association has enjoyed such back-to-back success.

Let's hope Barcelona put a stop to it and prevent the Premier League from entering a phase more dominant than that enjoyed by Serie A in the 1990s. With the English game's cash riches, the cycle may not end for some time.

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