By Gregory Bryce
Over the last week, the football world was turned topsy-turvy after the news had been announced that 12 of Europe’s biggest and wealthiest clubs were forming their own break away league known as the European Super League. The announcement drew many reactions across the sport, and most were in the negative as many decried the decision as the ‘death of football’ as we know it. Yet, just after a few days, it was announced that the plans for the European Super League had crumbled after a majority of the clubs withdrew their support.
But what exactly is the European Super League? And why are so many football fans and administrators alike so opposed to the idea?
Well, to simply put it, the European Super League would be an exclusive 20-team league open to the ‘most elite’ clubs across Europe where they would play mid-week matches between themselves.
Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? In fact, the premise sounds remarkably like the UEFA Champions League- bringing together the best of the European leagues in a single competition to compete against each other.
Well, most of the disapproval for the project comes from the fact that 15 of the 20 teams that would be taking part would already have a fixed invitation into the league. Unlike the Champions League where each team that participates would have earned their spot through merit, the European Super League proposes that 15 teams would have already earned their spot based on the fact that they are considered ‘elite’ clubs.
They would earn their spot not through merit or through their own performance, but rather by their status, and put simply, their pockets.
With no consequences for losing and no risks of relegation, the European Super League would end the competitive nature of the sport.
And this was one of the main detractors that led to the immediate demise of the Super League.
Super League was Inevitable
Make no mistake, however, thoughts of a Super League have been around for years. This was not the first time these plans had been discussed. But unlike before, this was the first time that teams had stepped forward with the intent to create such a league.
But, if this is nothing new, why hadn’t they moved forward with their plans until now?
Well, there are many factors that have been pinpointed as the trigger behind the move – from mounting tensions between the UEFA and the various owners of the clubs involved, the increase in American ownership of influential European clubs, dissatisfaction with pay divisions amongst teams in the Champions League, and many others. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was most definitely the COVID-19 pandemic.
All of the clubs across Europe were hit hard financially by the pandemic and the European Super League seemed like the perfect way to make up for their losses as it was estimated that the profitability of the Super League would reach into the range of billions of dollars.
Even Manchester City, one of Europe’s richest clubs has revealed that they have lost in excess of $60 million due to the pandemic.
So if money is to be made, why not grasp at the opportunity?
Being Rich at the Expense of the Poor
Well, one of the reasons would most definitely be that the existence of the Super League could cause massive financial losses for the teams excluded from the Super League.
Let’s take a look at the English Premier League. Of the 20 teams that play in the Premier League, six teams were invited to the European Super League. It is also the same six teams that bring in the lion’s share of the revenue from match tickets and broadcasting rights as more people tend to watch these teams over the remaining teams in the league.
So, if these six teams were to leave the Premier League, so would their revenue. This would have a domino effect that would lead to a much smaller revenue being generated by the league, and in turn, would mean less payment to the clubs that participate – further putting the burden on clubs that are still struggling from the financial pitfall caused by the pandemic.
So, not only would the Super League take away the competitive nature of the sport and the idea of merit based on performance, it would also cause the knock-back effect of sending other clubs into financial problems as they would have to struggle to stay afloat.
Football is for the Fans
With all this said and done, the main reason behind the failure of the Super League was the fans and players who protested against the idea as well as the rushed manner in which it was executed.
Immediately after the announcement of the league, it was reported that two of the 12 ‘founding’ teams were reluctant to make their decision. Reports suggested that Manchester City and Chelsea had only joined the Super League over the fear of being left behind if they had chosen not to. This, combined with the fact that European giants like Bayern Munich, PSG and Borussia Dortmund had refused out rightly to join, gave hope that the project could be stopped.
Eventually, after much protest from the fans and even some of the players who detested the idea of competition without risks, Manchester City and Chelsea started the process to withdraw from the league. This caused a lot of the other teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and others to also begin their process of withdrawing from the league.
Gregory Bryce is a freelance journalist.
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