It’s been talked about for long enough and now it seems that it’s finally coming to pass. Welcome to the European Super League.
Never mind that well over a century of history will be going into the trash; never mind that Covid hit fans of the “elite” clubs will have to stump up for away games at the Allianz Stadium or the Nou Camp rather than Turf Moor or Selhurst Park, because it’s all about the money. $6 billion dollars of it in fact, according to Sky Sports.
It is being reported that American bank JP Morgan are bankrolling the new competition to which 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs, six of them English, have already apparently signed up.
Inevitably national leagues as well as FIFA and UEFA are up in arms and threatening bans from their own competitions, but in reality, they will be well aware that such bans are likely to be little more than a form of self-harm.
Just think back to the 1999/2000 when Manchester United refused to play in that season’s FA Cup competition in favour of taking part in the much more financially lucrative FIFA Club World Championship in South America. Remember the tough punishment meted out by the FA?
No, neither do I.
Of course, United claimed that this was, in fact, a selfless act merely intended to strengthen England’s chances of hosting the 2006 World Cup (which, of course, never have happened anyway), but it was actually a totally cynical monetary calculation; the FA Cup was worth less than the League, the European Cup and the World Championship so in the bin it went.
With Manchester United now under the control of the American Glazer family, who bought it using a Leveraged Buyout, i.e., borrowing against the club’s assets, which loaded a liability of half a billion pounds onto an institution which had been debt-free since 1931, and Liverpool owned by the American John W Henry, traditional and history now come a very poor second to money.
So, do I feel sorry for the Premier League? Not a chance. Their statement on Sunday was remarkable for how far distanced from reality it was. Try this for size:
“Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best. We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.”
Really? Well, if they find a super-rich benefactor maybe, but please let’s not play the level playing field card. However, this is even better:
“This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.” Well, that’s true, but while it suited them the Premier League were more than happy for it to happen. Their real concern is that they now have competition from people with deeper pockets.
That’s also true of UEFA who have also issued a statement hitting out at “this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.”
The completely uncynical and unself-interested UEFA are, by the way, currently planning to increase teams in the Champions League from 32 to 36 and overhaul the group stage into a single table rather than the current groups of four clubs.
Teams would play 10 matches each in the group stage rather than the six they currently play, and a playoff round would also be introduced before the last 16, but I’m sure that is in no way motivated by the profit motive…
However, the real wakeup call is for the group of English clubs who have routinely lived beyond their means in order to try to survive in the same league as the elite, and who have already been hit hard by Covid. The prospect of the potential cut in TV revenue if the European Super League goes ahead could quite simply spell the end for some clubs and would undoubtedly send a seismic shock wave through the English game.
I won’t pretend that it wouldn’t hurt Norwich City as well, but all of a sudden that self-funding model doesn’t seem such a bad idea, does it?
Of course, this may all prove to be a false alarm, but these stories have been building for a long time now and it is unlikely that there is nothing behind them.
We could be heading for some very interesting times in the world of English football.
martin penney says
That’s a great perspective on a potentially nauseating situation.
The best bit to me is the *no promotion, no relegation* aspect that has been bandied about.
Maybe laced-up footballs & black&white TV weren’t so bad after all.
Okay they were, but you know what I mean.
A great article that will resonate with any true football supporter who reads it.
Philip Huish says
The decisions made in European leagues, especially by the FA about the premier league, to concentrate the money in the hands of the big teams and not to foster competition has led us to this. When they also forced UEFA to scrap the fair European Cup with a Champions League which focused more money to the big teams it made a pan European League inevitable.
It will happen in my lifetime and if UEFA don’t create it the big cubs will. if UEFA don’t create it, the competition will become a cartel of clubs with a US style franchise system.
I suspect that one of these attempts will go far enough, even if it is not this one, will enough money backing it that they will convince the clubs and players that it will be worth it. the clubs will then hope that UEFA are forced to adopt it or lose money. especially if it is making money.
It’s a matter of when and not if it happens though
Dave Cole says
It’s a global takeover, long in the making. We all knew that the Premier League sold football down the river, and that the Americans are only interested in carving themselves a bigger slice of the pie. We’re lucky to have a community club, but it’s clear we don’t fit any model for the future. Remembering when Cardiff wore red shirts, I can’t wait until Franchise ‘FC Blue Horse Ipswich’ buy Selhurst Park and move their business to London, and play their home games in Florida to suit the US streaming services. Games gone Robin!
Alex B says
An interesting read and some supporters groups have already said that they will not support the idea or travel to watch games in this new league if it happens.
Can we see a possible 14 clubs tossing these 6 clubs out of the premiership,
Can we see supporters at these clubs reacting in a way that will cause a change of mind, protests riots could see owners pulling out and leaving clubs in big depts.
They are threatening legal action towards these clubs, let them go and see how they survive with no supporters the backers will soon want their filthy money back, but with all this bad publicity will JP Morgan stay on board for long as it could back fire on their core business.
Chris S says
Agree entirely Robin, very well put. Elite football is not an island, it relies on the pyramid below. Remove the foundations and the whole edifice may founder.
I would love it, absolutely love it (echoes of KK), if the TV football watchers decided this was a step too far but alas they do tend to turn on and blindly subscribe regardless of how limited or tedious the product so I doubt that. Shame.
Whenever and wherever money turns into the prime motivator of something it turns into an ugly and selfish beast. The dragons may sit on their ever increasing piles of gold but I won’t be watching. The game has never felt more like it’s for someone else other than me…
Only logical solution is to torch Old Trafford, White Hart Lane and the rest. Either that or their players stage a strike and refuse to play. Utterly outrageous and depressing.
The opposition is lining up already. Uefa, the fsa, the fa, the royal Spanish football league, hm government, bayern Munich, plus numerous pundits and commenters to name but a few.
Gary nevilles rant was a joy to behold.
Quite how this gets off the ground is anyones guess. The proposed tv audience of couch potatoes, targeted by gambling, fast food and beer companies at every break as they get their weekly fix of liverpool, despite never having visited the city or in many cases being able to spell it.
Perhaps its a Chinese or far Eastern audience they chase. 3 am kick offs at an empty old Trafford anyone?
The dreadful glazers and their shyster acquisition of Manchester United are a cancer on our national game.
Quite different to the Yankee takeover down the road which could be thrown into doubt if this does gain traction. It would effectively end any slim chance the pension fund has of making a profit out of its investment.
Typical, we’ve only been back for one day.
I imagine it would be fairly easy for the PL to scupper these plans assuming the English clubs intend to stay in the League. Let’s say Spurs have a game against Barcelona on Sunday in Spain. Nothing to stop the PL scheduling a game against whoever on the same day. If Spurs don’t play whoever they lose three points as they’ve forfeited the match. Assuming each of the 12 super league teams will play each other twice that would equate to each team starting a season in the PL, La Liga etc. on minus 66 points. Spurs currently have 50 points with six games to go. It would also give the other 14 teams in the PL a 36 point cushion. That would currently relegate Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal and put MU behind Burnley.
Dan Rear says
Bring it on asap I say. Let the greedy 6 burger off into the European sun and leave the real fans and clubs to get on with life with real football. As consumers, we have the power to scupper their plans
Jim Davies says
Forget anything to do with fans reactions. This whole thing is for the benefit of far eastern gambling syndicates, and TV audiences out there. It’s a pure money making scheme, and very much the American franchise model.
Don’t think I’ll be interested in watching any of it. No, make that I definitely won’t watch it.
Bernard Owen says
Going to be an interesting statement in the Commons , what chance legislation to follow the German System , at least 50.1 % of the club fan owned , probably not but hey we can dream .
Americans have 0 knowledge and respect to everything outside their non sense country. That is result of giving americans chance to buy also football clubs. Its very possible that their main plan has been that when they have both those clubs. UEFA and those european clubs have very little understanding to each other. Not surprisingly UEFA also revealed today new systems to european club competitions, way more games are going to be played. Americans should rather invest to MLS and they would but it does not cause any chaos and fights.
Americans have a lot to do in situation between Russia and Ukraine. Russians and ukrains are very similar people, similar culture. Chaos means good times for american arms industry, covid has been very good to their pharmaceutical industry. Similar thing happened in Yugoslavia, USA have western media in their hands and just like in ESL they dont care at all about local traditions, nature…..everything is omg and black or white. Its best when they stay as far as possible from Europe.