Football's vicious circle of success

Updated: March 15, 2012, 1:53 PM ET
By Michael Cox | Special to ESPN.com

It all used to be so simple in the top flight of English football. Six or seven sides would hope to challenge for the league, and everyone else would see a European place as a great achievement, something of a bonus. There were also the two cup competitions, with the chance for a day out at Wembley perhaps the most exciting prospect of the season.

Now the situation is more complex. The expansion of the Champions League at the turn of the century created an entirely new mindset ...

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