Astute observers of the game in Europe may have seen that one coming years ago.
Not so much Chelsea clawing and scrapping its way through a star-studded field to ultimately trump Bayern Munich at home in the UEFA Champions League final, as a London club winning the European championship for the first time.
That it was Chelsea is indicative of football’s emerging power structure: one governed by the seemingly endless resources of a new wave of wealthy owners.
Perhaps far more poignant was the opponent, Bayern Munich.
That a London club prevailed over an industrialised football behemoth represents a seismic shift in the balance of power in Europe. To put it into perspective, until Chelsea’s unlikely win, not one team from any of the seven biggest metropolitan areas in Europe – Istanbul, Paris, Moscow, London, St Petersburg, Berlin and Athens – had had ever won a European Cup/Champions League.
Among the bracket of clubs that had dominated the continent were, what Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski call in Socceronomics, the M-towns: Munich, Manchester, Marseille, Madrid and Milan.
Barring Madrid, which falls into a third category outlined by Kuper and Szymanski as beneficiaries of a fascist regime, add to that list the likes of Liverpool and you have a tangible link between the types of places that have achieved success in Europe - industrialized bastions which can call on large populations who rally behind their football team.
As Kuper and Szymanski write: “London, Paris and Moscow don’t need to win the Champions League. It is a different type of city where a soccer (sic) club can mean everything: the provincial industrial town.
“From the 1990s until 2008, London offered a technicolour vista of raucous young people from all over the world dressed in weird youth-culture outfits chucking cash at each other.
“The place came to smell of money. All this started to give London soccer dominance. At the same time as the city became fully international, so did the market in soccer players.”
A market that is poignantly reflected in Chelsea’s squad - a panoply of football ideologies from around the world. It’s not just confined to Chelsea. Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur also boast squads that reflect London’s expanding demography.
That is not to say the established powers are waning. On the contrary, Milan's and Juventus’s dominance of Serie A, coupled with Borussia Dortmund’s tussle with Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga and the stranglehold over the Premier League by the two Manchester clubs would suggest the provincial towns still dominate the domestic landscape.
But new ideas and money flowing into Europe’s biggest demographies and typified by Chelsea’s win over Bayern Munich indicates that may soon change.
As Kruper and Szymanski wrote in 2008: “At last being a capital city is becoming a strategic asset to a soccer club.
“When Arsenal and Chelsea finished in the top two spots in the Premier League in 2004, it was the first time in history that two London teams had achieved that feat.
“In 2005 they did it again. Soon one of these clubs could become the first London team to be champion of Europe.”
Four years later, at The Fussball Arena Munchen on 20 May, that prediction came to fruition.
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