Middle-Aged Spread

There were a lot of smiling faces in the corridors of Geneva this week, and many of them were owned by members of the SFA, because it was they that had put forward the plan to expand the number of finallists in the European Championships from sixteen to twenty-four with effective from Euro 2016. On the surface (and particularly from a British perspective), this may seem like a great idea. No longer will Scots have to spend their summers with just England’s inevitable defeat to lift the gloom of their perennial non-involvement in such matters. Wales might finally stand half a chance of qualifying for the finals of a major tournament for the first time in two generations. On the other hand, though, the likelihood is that all that will happen as the result of this expansion will be a lowering of quality of the football on display, a chaotic system structure that will leave most people scratching their heads and qualifying rounds that will become little than processions that eliminate the weak and feeble. The reasoning behind it isn’t difficult to work out. Everyone, within the game, is a winner. If Kosovo are accepted into UEFA, it will have fifty-four members. The chances are that there will be twenty-two qualifying places up for grabs for Euro 2016 (the expected two hosts will, of course, qualify automatically), with ten...

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