- Adrian R. Bell, Andrew Urquhart y Chris Brooks
- The Conversation*
The world of football has been shaken by the announcement of the creation of a European Super League.
Most think it is a bad idea, from the governing bodies FIFA and UEFA to national bodies such as the English Premier League or the Royal Spanish Football Federation.
The same goes for the fan groups of the six English clubs that make up half of the initial 12 members of the Super League: Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea y Arsenal from England.
The other six are the Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid, in Spain; Y Juventus, AC Milan and Inter, in Italy.
The main German and French clubs do not participate.
Under the proposed system, these 12 clubs would join three other unconfirmed founding members and five additional clubs that would have to qualify each year. They would play midweek games in two ten-club mini-leagues, with the top-ranked players moving on to the knockout phase and eventually a final each May.
Actually replacing the UEFA Champions League, the founders would collectively receive US $ 4.22 billion (3.5 billion euros) in initial infrastructure payments, plus US $ 12,058 million for an “initial commitment period.”
The 12 clubs propose to compete in their national leagues as normal.
The initiative is considered so scandalous that even UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to find a way to block it, despite not being known for his love of soccer.
Experts, including Gary Neville, a former Manchester United defender, have also been disappointed.
The European Super League is being censored as a way to get money, as it would be for the most part a “closed business” without the danger of descent for founding clubs.
Many feel that it goes against the spirit of soccer’s long history, especially with lower-league teams struggling from the pandemic.
Neville believes that “there is no chance” that the proposals will go ahead, given the enormous opposition.
Others suggest that they could serve as a bargaining chip as UEFA unveils a renewed and expanded Champions League, which according to this body will take place independently of the proposals of the European Super League.
In England, many also want football authorities to punish the “big six.” In fact, expulsions and bans are being considered for the players of these clubs to compete in the European Championship and the World Cup.
The anger of the fans
However, everyone should pause to breathe because acting tough against these clubs could achieve exactly the opposite effect as intended.
It can be hard for the authorities of the English Premier League (EPL) to win hearts and minds by invoking the history of football.
The EPL itself seceded from the English Football League in 1992, and football authorities and fans were just as angry at the time. The lowering was included in the proposal, although the clubs did not ask permission for the structure they created.
With the majority of English football broadcasting revenue going to Premier League clubs, many in football already criticize the football pyramid.
They argue that not enough money is leaking to the lower leagues, while years of transfer price and salary inflation have pushed many clubs to the brink even before the pandemic.
Now, with stadiums empty due to covid-19, football faces a dilemma: see more clubs sink or consider some kind of new system with reduced salaries for players, regulated transfers and more distributed resources. equitable.
The clubs behind the Super League seem to reject this form of sustainable austerity. They are positioned above the existing pyramid. Of course, with some clubs on the wire with more than $ 1,205 million in debt, receiving a transfer bonus of $ 240 million to $ 360 million can solve their financial crises.
What will happen next
The Super League could be a bargaining chip, of course.
The big clubs have long been looking for reforms of the Champions League that benefit them financially, and the fact that the announcement comes a day before UEFA confirms the renewal of the Champions League is clearly no coincidence.
Adding games to the congested football calendar is not something that any major club likes.
So perhaps the Super League proposal will be dissolved in the coming days thanks to a commitment to UEFA. As Neville has pointed out, something similar happened with the English Premier League in 2020 with a plan to further strengthen the big clubs called “Project Big Picture”.
On the other hand, the big clubs could be looking for an extreme reaction from the football authorities in order to go further.
Perhaps an independent league is what the owners really have in mind, rather than the proposed weekday parallel league.
Clubs no, franchises
The model that we must consider is that of the main American sports, such as soccer or basketball, where there are no descents and teams travel thousands of miles to play.
They schedule games abroad in neutral venues, often moving teams to a new city without worrying about the reaction of the home crowd.
The fact that the owners refer to the clubs as “franchises” is instructive in this case: four of the clubs proposed as founders of the Superliga have American owners who may have little interest in footballexcept for your stream of profits.
We could imagine the owners of these franchises thinking that a group of 20 clubs in Europe could turn into a gigantic vacuum cleaner to suck up all the money from the income of football broadcasts and sponsorship.
Your teams could play multiple times a year, and why not have Madrid or City derbies played to packed audiences in Rio, Shanghai or Los Angeles?
In fact, why limit yourself to European clubs when you can also add rivals from South America, the United States or China?
To counter this threat, governments and national leagues must keep all 12 teams in their competitions.
If an independent league became the only game in town, it could matter little to individual players if they were banned from playing in the national teams.
They could console themselves with even higher salaries that would be offered to them while the whole world watches each of their matches.
Of course, we do not believe that the Super League is good for football, but taking hasty action could cause incalculable damage to all the clubs that are outside the elite.
A unique opportunity to reshape the Champions League and ensure that football at all levels remains financially viable could be wasted.
It may all come down to who has the strongest brand: football authorities, leagues or clubs.
At the moment it seems that the clubs are hoping to get an answer to this question.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.