Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Saturday night fever, but Campions League final move is step too far

Personally, I blame the kids. It’s always their fault — never work with them. You can’t rely on children to make rational decisions.

Hand a child a piece of chocolate cake and tell him if they wait half an hour they can have the whole cake — what do you think they are going to do? No patience, no real appreciation. No long-term strategy.

Kids came up with the idea for the London Olympics mascots. Need I say more!

You are probably wondering what kids have to do with tonight’s Champions League final. Well, the answer is quite a lot.

History will be made tonight in Madrid but forget about Bayern Munich and Inter Milan going for an historic treble.

Amidst all the hype, the fact that the game has been switched from a Wednesday to a Saturday night has been virtually ignored. And why did UEFA president Michel Platini boot European Cup tradition into touch?

“I did not see many children or families in Athens because Wednesday is a school night,” Platini told reporters referring to the 2007 final in which AC Milan beat Liverpool.

“Moving it to Saturday should make it more of a family occasion.” Is Saturday night more family friendly than Wednesday night? As the European Cup final had traditionally been played in midweek since the competition began in 1955-56, it must have retained its global appeal.

“But who gives a damn about football’s traditions?

UEFA clearly want to push the biggest game in club football into global event Superbowl territory. FOX Sports will broadcast the game to an American audience. Whatever next? Janet Jackson struggling to keep her top on during a half-time performance?

Ironically, it’s probably just as well that UEFA have moved the final to a Saturday because there is little other football played on this day anymore. Whatever happened to a 3pm kick-off on a Saturday?

But UEFA’s timing could be their downfall as tonight’s final is not expected to serve up the same fireworks of the classic Wednesday tussles between AC Milan and Liverpool or Manchester United and Bayern Munich. No all-English affair or ‘El Clasico’. Just two sides who are pretty good at defending.

Just for the record, tonight I’ll be meeting a friend who lives in Hong Kong and, not surprisingly, doesn’t make it to Belfast too often these days.

If he can dodge the volcano, I’ll happily dodge the match.

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