European Super League
What is it? What are its implications? And how will it effect the common fan?
As I write this, the news of the pending formation of a new “European Super League” is now hours old. Many of you may or may not be aware of the formation of this new league. But for those of you out there oblivious to the world of football (soccer) let me enlighten you about the impact of this announcement and breakdown its impending implications for football as a whole.
What is the “Super League”?
For starters, the new league is more or less a direct challenge to UEFA(Union of European Football Associations). More specifically Europe’s famously storied and beloved completion, The UEFA Champions League. But let me explain to you what it is before I go into the why it exists (or why I believe it does).
In the simplest terms the Super League will be a 20 team competition. As of right now 12 teams comprise the league (AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham Hotspur). These teams along with three more teams(to be added later) will become permanent members of the league. The remaining 5 spots will be delegated to teams throughout Europe and most likely based off of domestic performance within their respective leagues. However, the exact details on how the 5 teams will be chosen remains to be determined.
The competition will be formatted into a two group format with 10 teams comprising each group. The top two teams of each group will gain automatic promotion to the knockout stage. The teams in 4th and 5th in each group will play a playoff between themselves for the “honor” of playing in the next phase.
It is especially interesting to note who is chairing the board of this new league.
- Chairman: Florentino Perez (Real Madrid)
- Vice-chairman: Andrea Agnelli (Juventus)
- Vice-chairman: Joel Glazer (Manchester United)
All of them have been heavily criticized over the past few years for their lack of ability to relate or connect to their fan bases. Glazer Family and Florentino Pérez being among the most hated entities of their clubs for what many fans believe is their willingness to throw away the core values and principles of the clubs they currently represent.
Impact on European Football
The impact of the Super League will be immense, financially and on a schedule level. Already there is talk by UEFA (verbally backed by FIFA) to implement sanctions on the teams involved in the breakaway league. As well as to bring forward and submit legal action against all the clubs involved. UEFA President Charitain even went so far as to say that “any player who plays in the league will be barred from playing in the World Cup or EUROs”. A bold and definitive statement from the head of Europe’s governing body but yet warranted considering the direct threat this new league now poses to the stability and viability of the Champions League.
The idea of an independent league had been first floated out there years ago. But I believe that this European Super League idea took form with the emergence of Financial Fair Play rules back in the 2011-2012 season.
What the breakaway European Super League actually means
So what does this new league actually mean? Frankly, the way I see it is this is a money grab by clubs who once held prominence and power in Europe’s greatest stage: the Champions League. If you look at the majority of these clubs on the list many of them have not tasted success in the CL for many years. The last time Arsenal sniffed the final was back in the 2006 Final against Barcelona. Unfortunately for them it ended in a 2-1 defeat. AC Milan 2007 (Won 2-1). Inter Milan 2010 (Won 2-0). Chelsea 2012 (Won 4-3 on PKs) and so on and so forth. The only teams on the list who has won within the past 5 years are Liverpool and Real Madrid which basically says all that needs to be said about the motives behind this stunt.
The creation of the league is more for the preservation of each of their brands and the ability to dictate their own terms on what is acceptable spending within the transfer market. It also seems to be a direct reaction to the lack of results by many of the teams to progress into the later rounds of the CL.
On top of all this the vast majority of the clubs involved are experiencing serious financial debt. Barcelona are in the whole for a sum of a 1 billion euros. Juventus for a figure around $360 million Euros. In addition, under the current format the teams competing in the UEFA Champions League earn between 60-70 million a year. Under the new format it’s speculated that the 12 teams would each be able to take in around 140 million per year. Now the picture is coming into focus. And it’s an easy equation to see why the drive to create the ESL is so urgent.
In addition, to the potential financial stability the ESL may create there will be other benefits. By creating this league, the twelve teams (soon to be 15) are ensuring that they will never have to miss out on tournament money ever again. Since their status within the new formed league will be gaurenteed. This means that TV money, ticket sales and other revenue will be locked in each and every fixture. Also, the idea of hosting it on the same schedule as the current CL scheduled days for games will also ensure that their league will cut into viewership for the UEFA Champions League games. Once again siphoning off and undermining the competition to help discredit and turn people away from watching those games.
Now I know that Perez has stated that this is all for the betterment of the game. But how gullible do you have to be? Just listen to this quote he said today about how the money flow will operate in the new format. In Florentino Perez’s own words: "Us, big clubs, we will get a lot of money, then we will distribute it to everyone. But first we need the money." If that doesn’t send alarm bells ringing in your head as a fan I don’t know what will.
It is clear as day from this statement that all that is at stake and important in this whole equation is the money and where it flows to. And for all these teams to have signed up and joined this debacle speaks volumes to what they are and represent at this current stage in their history’s. It is especially concerning giving the financial, health and emotional burden the vast majority of fans have gone through over these past 24 months. Many of whom have lost jobs and or loved ones during this pandemic. Yo then ask them to shell out more cash to attend, what amounts to a glorified gentleman’s club tournament is disrespectful and abhorrent.
I sincerely hope that this league gets snuffed out. For the sake of the smaller clubs whose future already hangs on a knifes edge and more importantly for the fans of the sport who are further being squeezed dry for every penny they have. It will take a concerted effort from all who oppose this decision to come together to fight this intergration. Least of which being UEFA and FIFA whom both have had a less than stellar track record of late in regards to doing right by the fans. But there is always hope that things can be saved. So why can’t we believe in hope once more? It’s hope that gets us through the nervy 90 minutes on match day when our team is down. Maybe hope can provide us the spark to ignite the tide of change that snuffs out this nightmare before it ever unfolds. For after all it we owe it to ourselves to protect the game we all love!