Over the recent history of football, a large amount of time and effort has been wasted playing needless competitions.
These tournaments typically involve too few teams to generate any suspense (as in the Rous Cup, which had three); or come at a time of the year when nobody can raise any interest (like the pre-season Makita Trophy); or pose as ‘international club competitions’ but really consist of thirty-nine matches between English clubs, and then eventually one of them gets to play Brescia (the Anglo-Italian Cup). Sometimes, they take place in countries like Dubai or Hong Kong: on these occasions, players are paid £25 million per ten minutes on the pitch, goals are marked by quiet applause, and anyone who arrives without a Manchester United shirt is marched at gunpoint to a special outlet to purchase one.
The teams who frequently take part in these competitions can be identified midway through the season when they begin to complain that there are too many competitions. They normally make their point by fielding an under-17 side in the FA Cup and losing at home to Brentford. Afterwards the manager will explain in a press conference that there is ‘too much strain on players’, while texting under the table to make sure his visa has come through for the Sony Korean Classic next week featuring three Premier League Teams, Atletico Madrid, and a Korean Select XI captained by Rivaldo.
Pointless Competitions Past And Present
Some notable bullshit competitions include:
Rous Cup: This was begun with the noble aim of keeping alive the traditional England-Scotland fixture. However, the organisers’ cunning plan for doing this was to invite just one South American team over, and have a ‘round robin’. This meant there were only three matches and no final, making the Rous Cup a strong contender for the shittest international competition of all time. Normally, England and the South American team drew with each other and beat Scotland, and jointly won the meaningless trophy. They did it three times, then ran out of South American teams and put a stop to it.
Simod Cup: Also known as the Full Members’ Cup. A tournament for teams from the top two divisions. There was no point in this at all, and they soon put a stop to it.
Anglo-Italian Cup: A half-arsed attempt to bring exotic fixtures into the League calendar by pitting Championship (as it is now) sides against those from Serie B. It was fun for a brief time as fans of teams like Port Vale got to go to Pisa and make a holiday of it. But hardly anyone did, because most games were midweek, and in any case you had to play other English teams before you even got a go at the Italians. Also, the Italians always won the trophy in the end. They soon put a stop to it.
Makita Trophy: A couple of English and a couple of Italian teams met in soporific matches at Wembley to get their pre-season signings injured in time for the season proper. It always ended up being Arsenal against Sampdoria. There was no point to this, and they put a stop to it. However, the spectre of the four-team ‘pre-season tournament’ continues to loom every couple of years. A spokesman for Umbro, who sponsored one in 2005, said: ‘we think this is a great opportunity for fans to warm up for the season, and we’re not discouraged by the fact that everyone alive hates this sort of shit.’
Intertoto Cup: This idiotic affair gives teams the chance to qualify for European football despite having finished no higher than 19th in the third tier of their domestic pyramid. In common with all truly shit tournaments, these days there is not really a winner; instead, a labyrinthine format sees 2,450 teams compete in the first nine rounds, then qualify for eleven groups of thirteen teams each, twenty-two-and-a-half of whom get into the UEFA Cup (see below).
UEFA Cup/Europa League:
- Main article: UEFA Cup
This used to be a proper tournament but they’ve screwed with the format continually to make sure everyone gets more money, and now nobody can be bothered to follow it till the final. Moves are afoot to create even more matches and, ideally, get rid of the final. Michel Platini stated in a press conference that by 2012, ‘the Europa League will go on infinitely’ and spoke of a future in which ‘at any given time, Blackburn are playing Olympiakos’.