It emerged recently that a suggestion made at UEFA’s latest summit meeting was to replace international friendly dates with a European Nations’ League, perhaps made up of nine division of six, with promotion and relegation.
This seems great for the top nations, with a regular supply of enticing fixtures, but seems rather less alluring to the middle ranked nations. Playing the other mid ranked teams for the prospect of climbing from Division 4 to Division 4 isn’t the stuff of dreams. But if these compeitive fixtures are to replace many of the meaningless friendlies, then that is all to the good in my opinion.
But what about the minnows? Imagine a bottom rung made up of Liechtenstein, Faroe Islands, Malta, Andorra, San Marino and Gibraltar. Regular matches between these teams would surely provide a chance of gradual improvement, more so than being thrashed by even mid-ranking teams as happens to San Marino in particular.
That would still happen of course as the World Cup and European Championships qualifying groups would still be there, but a league like this would at last allow San Marino and the others to try and play a more attacking style. It would allow them to have a little more ambition on occasion, and would give them the opportunity to taste victory in a competitive environment. For the morale of their oft put-upon players, such a boost would be genuinely wholehearted.
I dare say San Marino would still be outclassed in this division. After all, Liechtenstein and the others suffer less devastating defeats on the whole with the odd draw or even win thrown in for good measure. But the chance would be there, and for that I for one am fully in favour of this idea.
If this new idea does come to pass, the chance for regular winnable fixtures is surely more beneficial to the development of football in the minnow nations than and endless string of World Cup beatings.