The European Super League is no new new concept. Florentino Perez, Madrid’s president, began pushing the agenda in 2009. Every year, there’s talks about the creation of an “elite” league for the best clubs. There’s no surprise that there is a sense of lassitude: Andrea Agnelli, Juventus’ president, dismissed earlier this year the creation of a European Super League (ESL) as “rumors”. Today, numerous official statements have come out that include the Premier League, La Liga and the UEFA itself. In this chaos, what to believe? Or better ask: What on earth is the “European Super League”?
The European Super League, as its name suggest, is a league composed of the best – hence why name “Super”. The format proposes two separate groups of 10 participating clubs. Four teams from regular domestic competitions would be handed the promotion to the ESL every year. Meanwhile, the top four teams of the two groups would face in a cup-like tournament, a sort of League Cup. Regular Super League fixture would take place mid-week, while the Cup would take place in the week-ends.
This format, however, is dangerous. How many times have football fans seen their players injured more often than ever in the pandemic era? A big, big problem. Many clubs, like Real Madrid, Liverpool and so many others – saw their squad halved down due to injuries. To illustrate how much injuries have hurt clubs, Madrid had to go today with a squad that barely has more than fourteen outfield players. That’s all. Shocking. Still, this only represents 1% of the problems associated with the congestion of fixtures. With a game every third day, the quality of football decreases. Not because football players are worse than ten years ago, but because physical fatigue results in mental fatigue.
The leagues are against the idea of European Super League
The Premier League, for instance, has witnessed it on regular occasions. May it be Liverpool v Manchester City, or the Manchester Derby: With this little time in between the fixtures, there’s no or little creativity. Training sessions now mostly focus on physical preparation, rather than tactical preparation. When players only think about running up and down the field, rather than on the art we expect from them, football is losing the battle.
“The richer get richer and the poorer get poorer”-Andrew Jackson, 7th president of the United States of America
Where players are literally burned on the field, money bags are multiplying. The COVID pandemic has become an incentive for a restart, but money remains the #1 influence. For some, like Agnelli, Florentino Perez and many rich owner of other big clubs, financial matters are the most important. When the COVID pandemic resulted in enormous economic losses, club look(ed) to enrich themselves. Especially the owners. No surprise that the ESL can seem attractive when 350 million of euros are promised should clubs join the clan on a permanent basis. As of now, a total of 12 clubs have accepted the offer, or shown interested; six of those are the ‘Top 6’ of the Premier League: (Manchester United,Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal).
Unsurprising, given the millionaires that the owners are. Besides the PL’s top six – that already represent by themselves 50% of the ESL should it go through – Atlético Madrid, Juventus and Inter Milan have also shown interest. Real Madrid and Barcelona’s presidents have shown interest – Florentino Perez has been mentioned before – and ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu showed interest before resigning as well.
Still a way to go
However, both Real Madrid and Barcelona cannot directly accept: As member-owned clubs, the members will have to vote in favor – or against – the proposal. PSG and German clubs are unlikely to join, too. Nasser, for PSG, has rejected on multiple occasions the ESL. Being affiliated to the Qatari suite, he cannot afford to drop the Champions League – which his club wouldn’t be able to take part in if he’d say yes to the ESL – because of viewer rights. Qataris gain a lot from the BEIN channel, that has the UCL rights to display the European Holy Grail to millions of viewers. In the Bundesliga, the 50+1 rule means that members will have to agree to clubs joining the ESL. And that is unlikely to happen as the DFB(Deutsches Fußball Verband, or the German Football Federation) has already faced backlash on Monday night games – let alone midweek.
End of football as we know it?
As mentioned before, both La Liga and the Premier League have come out with official statements. Both statement speak a 100% against the possibility of joining the ESL, even calling it “a cynical project”. If clubs were to join the ESL, not only would they be not able to participate in domestic leagues, but access to the World Cup would also be denied. Even the UEFA has now spoken against it, concluding the official statement with the three words “Enough is enough.” There’s an obvious clash going on, between so-called elite clubs, and possibly their domestic leagues.
Still, multiple reports have found that Agnelli and his mafia have begun serious talks as early as last summer already. Football for the elites, without football. The Premier League, more than any league, would suffer the most from losing the elitists. With the PL attracting millions of viewers every game-week, these numbers would decrease drastically should the top six leave.
There’s a conflict of interest. It’s managers against money, it’s owners against domestic leagues, it’s clubs against fans. In that battle, it is football, the fans and the culture that lose, while owners enrich themselves. A sad but steady direction football has headed towards to. The good news is that, with so internal opposition, there’s little chances that such a proposal goes through. Clubs are most likely not ready to sacrifice the income they earn from UCL nights. Therefore, the sanctions that would be imposed should clubs join seem to be too harsh. For now, at least.