Sunday, June 13

How the European Super League fell apart in 48 hours: what it means for football, fans, teams

The discussion around the Super League proposal for European football has now lasted one day longer than the league itself.

Unofficially, of course.

When the six founding members of the English Premier League declared that they no longer intended to be part of the project, the Super League received life support with virtually no chance of reactivation. Juventus president Andrea Agnelli told Reuters the project could not continue without Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

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“I remain convinced of the beauty of the project, of the value it would have added to the pyramid.” Agnelli said. “But I don’t think that project is still running.”

The Super League no longer exists, even if no one in authority has called the time of death.

Here’s a look at what that might mean:

What was the Super League?

The idea was to take the 15 most powerful clubs in European football and hold an annual continental competition that would have effectively supplanted the very popular UEFA Champions League.

It was backed by an American bank and was expected to generate more revenue for members – and, of course, guaranteed participation – than the current Champions League.

There were to be 15 founding members, and five of them qualified annually. However, only 12 were involved in the beginning, as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund of Germany and Paris Saint-Germain of France refused to participate.

One of the reasons cited for its launch was the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cost all football clubs in the world significant revenue in terms of ticket and ancillary stadium revenue.

How and why did ESL collapse so quickly?

The simple answer is that it brought together such a broad electorate that it became unsustainable for those responsible for the 12 founding clubs of the Superliga to continue. The ESL concept met resistance from some of the game’s most prominent figures, from the coaches (Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola) to the players (AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimović) to the football analysts ( Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville) to the fans themselves (who protested in front of Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium and hung banners at the gate of Liverpool’s Anfield stadium declaring “RIP” to the revered club).

The most intriguing element in this process, however, is how little market research and vetting appears to have been conducted regarding a maneuver that represented nothing short of a revolution in the way marketing is carried out. European football competition. It was a rebellion that only had the support of the boardroom from which it was launched.

The concept of ‘Super League’ has been around for years as a means for the sport’s most powerful clubs to obtain concessions from UEFA regarding how Champions League competition is conducted. But this time the founding clubs came to announce their formation on the eve of UEFA presenting major changes to the structure of the Champions League. They had to get serious about the process, and they were, until they couldn’t.

Did the fan reaction alone kill the Super League?

As much as all the public commotion mattered, and it mattered immensely, the biggest blow could have been struck when FIFA President Gianni Infantino threatened the Super League clubs that they could not “be half in and half out” of the global. soccer landscape

FIFA has control over world soccer in a way that is foreign to fans of American sports and leagues, largely because of the importance of the World Cup. The championship to which an NFL player aspires is the Super Bowl. For many professional footballers, no matter how much they enjoy a Premier League title, Serie A or a Champions League title, the World Cup is above all else.

Infantino’s statement was a warning, mostly implicit, that if clubs launched the Super League without an unanticipated penalty, players from those teams might not be eligible for international competition culminating in the World Cup.

“If some choose to go their own way, they must live with the consequences of their choice,” Infantino said. “This has to be absolutely clear.”

What consequences will there be for the clubs involved?

Edward Woodward resigned from his position as Manchester United’s executive vice president on Tuesday, which was seen as a result of the failed ESL initiative.

It is possible that the Premier League or UEFA may issue some form of sanction. But none could afford to be too draconian without risking a possible reversal of fan sentiment to support their favorite clubs.

There will be a lot of public upheaval about forcing the owners who participated to disinterest in the various clubs. There is a public “FSG Out” campaign directed at Fenway Sports Group, owners of Liverpool Football Club. FSG appears to have made a massive mistake by failing to alert popular manager Jurgen Klopp of their actions in advance. But lead owner John Henry has overseen the revitalization of the club that sank in the late 2000s, a resurgence that included the first LFC Premier League title in 2020 and a Champions League title in 2019. .

Public anger directed at him may explain Henry’s decision to become the only owner to date among ESL’s founders to issue a personal public apology.

“I’m sorry, and I am solely responsible for the unnecessary negativity that has been presented in recent days,” Henry said in a video posted via social media. “It is something I will not forget and shows the power that the fans have today and will continue to have.”

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