Football is now unavoidably an industry, a monolithic money making machine where success is counted in the paltry units of pounds and pence. Clubs still exist to attain victory but now this victory services the expansion of worldwide franchises, not the expectations of hungry fans.
Last Saturday saw the denouement of the European season and perhaps the most pertinent example of the changing parameters of success in the modern game. Inter Milan faced Bayern Munich in The Champions League with the Italians ostensibly being crowned as the best team from the most competitive region of the globe.
Can we say that the glory of the Champions League remains pure? Many see the competition as a long, bloated affair desperately in need of reform. The inclusion of make weight teams from sub-standard leagues and the largely surprise-free group phases have lead to accusations, seemingly founded, that such a grandiosely named tournament only serves to line to pockets of its participants and organisers with bountiful Television lucre.
So in the recent history of the competition, that now attracts the most TV viewers for a sporting event worldwide to its final, can we honestly say that its winners are the champions of champions? They may defeat all comers, whether it is through a stifling defense or an expansive forward line, but they are essentially the heirs to a kingdom engineered and maintained for commercial purposes.
Hopefully UEFA will move away from their rigid dogma of commercialisation to restore some of the simple magic held by the tournament in previous incarnations. Only then will the heroes of today ever be able to be compared to the legends of the past.
Written By Jake Farrell