BBC 5Live got into a bit of bother yesterday for asking if Paris St Germain’s domestic domination is turning the French league into the SPFL. PSG (60) are 21 points ahead of second place Monaco (39) in Ligue Un and could win the title next month. Celtic, of course, are only 6 points clear in the Scottish Premiership and will not win the title until April.
The pertinent point that 5Live were a bit clumsy in making is that PSG, who will win four-in-a-row this year, and Celtic, won will win five-in-a-row, are competing in one horse races. Karl Heinz Rummenigge made a similar point about Bayern Munich earlier this month (an example 5Live could also have used). Bayern are 8 points clear and also on their way to four-in-a-row.
Then there’s Juventus, who, like Celtic, hope to win five-in-a-row this season. Juve had a horrible start to the season but 11 league wins on the bounce have seen them close to within 2 points of Napoli at the top of Serie A.
Basel are 10 clear and on their way to seven-in-a-row in Switzerland, while Red Bull’s money will collect a third consecutive Austrian title for Salzburg this year.
Ajax are not quite there, having only won four of the last five titles, but Dutch football has been shrinking in competitive terms for over 3 decades (Ajax and PSV between them have won all but 3 titles in 31 years). Anderlecht, who have won three in four in Belgium, are also a little short of complete domination.
England’s different, no one has retained the title since 2009 and it’s not going to happen this year. Spain have seen a change of winner in the last four years and, with the world’s two biggest clubs, are likely to remain competitive, while Benfica and Porto are still nip and tuck in Portugal. These three are the outliers of Western European football.
Reality is that three of the ‘big five’ European leagues, and many others, are no longer competitive. Successful clubs know how to stay ahead of their peers, there are several formulas to help them. Permanently breaking this domination has never been more difficult.
Scottish football is not an uncompetitive outlier, it’s the new norm. The same questions being asked about Celtic are also being asked about dominant teams across the Continent. What football does about it is another story. Keep your eye on Rummenigge. He’s ambitious and wants to change things.