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European Super League

“The European Super League is for some the end of football and the start of a massive corporate takeover of what was once called the “beautiful game”. I am going to be looking over all perspectives, from the fan point of view, to the European Super League’s panel’s view and the point of view from the existing football boards all over the top European Leagues.

Firstly, however, I’d like to give a backstory to the Super League. Originally, the league was a concept built by some of Europe’s top executives in football, including: Real Madrid President, Florentino Perez, Ex-Juventus Chairman, Andrea Agnelli, Arsenal Owner, Stan Kronke, Liverpool Owner, John W. Henry and Manchester United Co-Owner, Joel Glazer. The aim of the Super League was created to rival UEFA and their Champions League competition. The announcement was released to the public in April 2021 and was not approved of by the general public. 12 founding members were announced which were, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus. These 12 founding members would be given permanent membership in the league and would not lose placement from the competition. The format of the Super League was to have two divisions of 10 teams play each other every week with each club playing 18 times in the group stages. The three top teams from each group would automatically qualify for the quarter-finals whilst fourth and fifth place from opposite groups would play against each other in a two-legged tie. It would stay like the usual Champions League format with all teams in the semi-finals and the quarter-finals playing in two legged ties and the final being a grand finale to win the season. After the outburst from the public, there was only 3 members left after 3 days of the announcement of the Super League, being Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.

One side of the Super League that people may agree with is the fact that the English Premier League already was its own breakaway league back in 1992 and is now the most successful league in the modern day football. In 1990, Greg Dyke met with the Big 5 clubs in England at the time which were, Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, and discussed making a breakaway league. Dyke proposed that the clubs would get more money from television shares as no one wanted to watch the lower leagues in football on television, according to him. The FA at the time had a very weak relationship with the Football League and so they agreed with the Big 5 and decided to propose a new Premier League. And so in the beginning of the 1991-92 season, the Premier League was introduced with 22 founding members which later reduced to 20 in 1995-96 season. The Premier League brought in 3.1 billion pounds just from TV revenue in 2019. People in foreign countries believe this dominance proves that the Premier League is just a “glorified Super League” as Juventus ex-Chairman, Andrea Agnelli, described it. Agnelli believes that the Premier League is the only growing league in Europe and raised his point that the Premier League raises 4 billion a year whereas Spain makes only 2 billion, Germany makes 1.5 billion, and the Netherlands only raised 100 million. This point, however, seems to some people as invalid as a lot of people remember when La Liga dominated the television screens in the 2000s and 2010s and when the Serie A used to in the 1980s and 1990s. So people believe that in some way, it is pure jealousy that now the European Super League has failed and the Premier League keeps on growing that now the bosses from other European countries are angry that the all the star players from their own countries are moving over to England. The Premier League may just be more attractive and physical to players who want a true challenge. Take for example, relegation-battling side, Nottingham Forest, who have signed Renan Lodi from last season’s 3rd place in La Liga, Atletico Madrid. They also signed Keylor Navas on loan from Paris Saint-Germain and Felipe also from Atletico Madrid. This shows that the reason why Real Madrid and Barcelona and Juventus, are still pushing for this league is because they want to bring their reputation back but they cannot due to the dominance of the Premier League so they want to invite them and take their revenues.

A reason why many people disagree with the Super League is the idea of having 12 founding members and only 8 places to qualify for their semi-open league. People feel as though the integrity of the lower leagues will become disrupted as people will no longer be able to qualify for the European Competition or will find it much harder as there will most likely be playoffs just to join the Super League. The Super League founders get 32.5% of all the commercial revenue from the league along with 3.5 billion euros for infrastructure investment plans. Then the 20 clubs would get 32.5% of the revenue distributed between all of them and 20% for performances in the league. The remaining 12.5% would go to clubs who have the largest audiences watching their teams in the league. Many clubs believed this was pure greed from the clubs and they would not be supporting the Super League in any way shape or form. One club who spoke out was Everton who said in a statement that the Premier League clubs had “betrayed their fans”. Another English example was Leeds United, who went out in shirt opposing the Super League and when playing against Liverpool announcing them as the “Merseyside Reds” which is an old reference to the game PES. On the fan side a YouGov poll showed that a mere 14% of fans agreed with it and a whopping 79% of fans opposed the Super League. Protests before a Chelsea game happened where fans marched outside Stamford Bridge with banners and posters in order to tell their club that they do not agree with the decision to join the Super League. They blocked the team buses path in to the stadium and legendary keeper and Chelsea board member, Petr Cech, told fans that they will deal with it and the player’s have no decision in the fact that they decided to join that league. Later that evening, Chelsea announced their willingness to exit the Super League.

In my opinion, I agree with the fan perspective with the fact that the integrity of the lower leagues will be disrupted financially and will disrupt player’s hopes and aspirations. Everyone loves and knows the Champions League as Europe’s biggest and most prestigious competition, so the children of today’s game would not be looking purely for the love of the game but where the money lies, based on the massive corporate leagues at the top. If you factor in the fact that the Premier League is now the “glorified Super League” as Agnelli said then maybe it is due to all the massive revenue streams but on the other hand it is most likely to be jealousy as the once biggest leagues of La Liga and Serie A, have now become less dominant and the clubs that used to attract foreign players more like European qualifying sides such as Sevilla or Roma, now only attract players who may use them as a stepping stone or use them as a place to see out the rest of their careers, as many now deem the Premier League to be the most physical and challenging league of them all. However, saying all of this does favour the less corporate approach, we all still know about the shady board of UEFA and all the corruption there has been within the organization in the past years. But in the end, there must be a better fan experience to the game as the players play for the fans, the players are motivated by the fans and the fans give their loyalty to the club and players. The fans of football is what makes all the clubs bring in their revenue and if the fans are not happy with what is happening then the Super League will lose a lot of the proposed money that they believe will come in through TV revenue, sponsorships and other incomes. So,  I agree with the fan view that the Super League is built on pure greed and will remove a lot of the fan experience and atmosphere in the game of football.”

This article researched and written by Alistair Holmes, Intern at ACROBAT | FCSM

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