LONDON: What is success and what is failure? It’s a contradictory question for the Premier League and its fans not only in England but around the world after the conclusion of the group stage of the Champions League with Manchester City and holders Chelsea out.

Financially, the Champions League regression of English clubs in the last few years has had no significant effect in revenue potential at all: quite the opposite. Their European competitive status is on the slide. But does it matter?

Premier League clubs will achieve an enormous increase in TV income from next season. Revenue from domestic and global TV rights deals will exceed £5bn.

In addition to the £3.018bn being secured for domestic live rights with Sky and newcomer British Telecom for the three seasons from 2013-14 and the £178m from BBC’s Saturday night highlights [Match of the Day], a major increase is certain far above the current £1.4bn overseas sales.

For example, a deal with IMG Worldwide means games can be broadcast on airlines and cruise liners using technology not available when the last TV deal was struck three years ago.

This revenue share-out plus some of the recent mega-million sponsorship means the European-aiming clubs should have few problems complying with financial fair play (Bad news for Arsenal who always thought they had constructed a long-term advantage with their over-cautious housekeeping).

Yet events in the Champions League tell a different story. Technically, specific reasons can be pitointed.

City have suffered a Premier title-winning hangover, manager Roberto Mancini has confused and disturbed his own players with too many tactical variations and too much rotation.

Mancini said, after the 1-0 Dortmund defeat : “I don’t feel we lost our application but if you want to win games you have to score and at the moment we have this big problem. When we have a chance we don’t convert it and we need to resolve this.

“There were four teams in our group that could win a Champions League, and we made some mistakes in the opening few games and we didn’t get time to recover . . . we paid for not taking our chances.”

Wider picture

As for Chelsea, managing a transition in personnel and style while maintaining winning form and the owner’s notorious lack of patience proved beyond Roberto Di Matteo (Of course, it would have helped if Fernando Torres had managed a few goals at crucial moments).

The wider picture tells another story.

In the three years when Premier clubs dominated the closing stages of the Champions League – from 2006-07 to 2008-09 – the Big Four conceded a total of 113, 107 and 112 goals between them in the domestic league. Over the past three seasons the teams in the top four positions have conceded a total of 142, 146 and 142 goals between them.

This may signal a raising of the excitement and entertainment levels but those statistics plus the erratic form of this season’s Champions League four suggests that English clubs have forgotten either how to defend or chosen deliberately to gamble on their attacks proving stronger than opposing defences.

This works in domestic football but the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk, Schalke, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid have proved that a fatally false premise.

But then, when the Premier League champions next season will be rewarded with more than £100m from the TV ‘pot’ who dare say they have got their priorities wrong?


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