After four English teams reached the Quarter Finals of the Champions League Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the Premier League as the best in Europe.
That’s a pretty big statement to make, but with the English league contributing 50% of the remaining teams in the world’s premier club competition you can kind of see why.
But how do you define the “best league in Europe”? I’ve done a little digging through the history of the Champions League and what I would consider the top four leagues in Europe – the English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and La Liga of Spain.
I’ve ignored prize money and general riches, as simply having lots of money does not make the league great.
If it is based on Champions League/European Cup victories then Italy and Spain lead the way with 11, closely followed by England with 10 and Germany 6 – although England can boast the highest number of clubs to win the trophy (Liverpool, Manchester United, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest).
Competitiveness must be another good way to judge the quality of a league, so since the turn of the century how many different teams have won the title in each of our four nations?
In the German Bundesliga four different clubs have won the championship since 2000: Bayern Munich (2000/2001, 2002/2003, 2004/2005 and 2005/2006), Borussia Dortmund (2001/2002), Werder Bremen (2003/2004) and VfB Stuttgart (2006/2007).
Four teams in Italy have won the scudetto since the onset of the 21st century: AS Roma (2000/2001), Juventus (2001/2002 and 2002/2003), AC Milan (2003/2004) and Inter Milan (2005/2006 and 2006/2007).
Three Spanish sides have won La Liga since 2000: Real Madrid (2000/2001, 2002/2003 and 2006/2007), Valencia (2001/2002 and 2003/2004) and Barcelona (2004/2005 and 2005/2006).
Three English clubs have won the Premier League as well since 2000: Manchester United (2000/2001, 2002/2003 and 2006/2007), Arsenal (2001/2002 and 2003/2004) and Chelsea (2004/2005 and 2005/2006).
What about attendances? Surely the better the league the more people would go and watch its games, right?
Based on 2006/2007 figures Germany leads the way with an average attendance of 37,644. The Premier League comes in second with an average of 34,459, La Liga third with 28,838 and Serie A a distant fourth with an average attendance of 18,473 – just 252 ahead of the English Championship – despiteboasting some of the largest stadiums in Europe.
That’s clear as mud then isn’t it? And I don’t think I’m any nearer an answer. Help…what do you think?