Futbol Factor: Platini Should Scrap Europa League Group-Stage

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent INovember 5, 2009

The Europa League is nothing more than an attempt by Michel Platini to add some gusto to a competition that has lacked in financial stature and prestige.

One decision with the re-branding I disagree with is the competition's newly inserted group stage.

The stage simply takes away from the excitement and pedigree of the Europa League.
The UEFA Cup was originally designed as a simple knockout competition between clubs of smaller stature, something that would inspire such clubs into qualifying for a worthy trophy to play for.
But the decision to expand the competition into a 48-team group stage is not the way to go forward in order to shore up the cup tie.
The reason for my take on the group stage is simple: the Europa League may sound like a great competition, but it doesn't have big-name players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Andre Pirlo or Karim Benzema to boast.
It likely will never have the same kind of prestige and history of the Champions League. It never has. 
It doesn't provide television viewers with the kind of awesome match-ups that are possible in a Champions League. (For example, Manchester United vs. Real Madrid or Liverpool's famous come-from-behind victory against AC Milan in 2005.)
The biggest clubs to have won the competition were Italy's Juventus of Turin and Internazionale of Milan, both of whom long since play their football in the Champions League.
Most football pundits would tell you that the Europa League expansion doesn't change the fact that the Champions League is what all the game's top players and coaches want to be a part of.
The only good thing about this new Europa League may be it's re-naming. Europa League has a nice ring to it, but it doesn't spell the same kind of panache as that of the term "Champions League."
There is a chance that I could be wrong about this re-branded competition, that perhaps Platini may be right in reformatting the competition to this model. But it remains to be seen if that is the case.
Until then, it's simply the Champions League. No other competition (besides the World Cup) comes close.