Debate: Would the European Super League be a good thing for world football?
The founders of this alleged competition reportedly include the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool.
There is no sport like football in the world, there perhaps never will be. The beautiful game has united mankind for decades, be it when a civil war was momentarily paused in Nigeria in 1967, to see the Brazilian great Pele play, or be it in every four years when the World Cup kicks off. There is nothing like watching your favourite team play, there is, in fact, nothing better than watching them do so against teams that have pedigree and class in them.
Now, as per reports from Germany’s Der Spiegel, 11 of European football’s biggest clubs are apparently all set to join hands and make a European Super League by 2021. As per Football Leaks, the whistleblower website these 11 clubs i.e the “founders” include Barcelona and Real Madrid; England's Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United; Italy's Juventus and AC Milan; France's Paris Saint-Germain and Germany's Bayern Munich. There will also be 5 more “invitees” to make it a 16-team tournament featuring the biggest and brightest name in world football. It would be a group and knockout tournament, exactly how the UEFA Champions League is currently played. There would be promotion and relegation, but the 11 founding clubs would be guaranteed safety in the top flight for at least 20 years.
As per reports from Germany’s Der Spiegel, 11 of European football’s biggest clubs are apparently all set to join hands and make a European Super League by 2021
The prospect of a European Super League has been making the rounds for a while, but the recent leak has substantially accentuated the rumour mills. While the idea is no doubt enticing, it has also received widespread criticism for being one that prioritizes cash flow over sentiment, is not in the best interest of the game and will act detrimental to the overall health of the game.
But is that it?
Our correspondent, Abhranil Roy, from Kolkata speaks for the alleged competition while our man from Delhi Punit Tripathi, pens his thoughts against it.
What are the hidden merits of the European Super League?
As it is with any far-fetched idea, the concept of football’s mega-rich clubs joining hands to make a league may sound controversial but there are some hidden merits in it. Let me lay them out for you:
Increases the attractiveness and valuation of the sport
Interestingly, the idea of the Super League has been making the rounds since 2009 when current Real Madrid president Florentino Perez first floated the idea of “Superclubs” taking each other regularly throughout the season. It is a concept that is already in action in the United States of America, with the NFL, NBA and MFL all following to some degree.
In fact, these clubs have already made a “Euroleague”, albeit in a different sport. For two years now, these outfits have been playing basketball games in a home-and-away format all across Europe. The competition has 30 games in the primary stage, with the top 8 progressing to play the knock-outs.
Normally, a club making it all the way to the Champions League final would play a maximum of 13 games, but if the number of games played would be doubled or tripled it would be a fantastic opportunity to make an abysmal amount of money through the turnstiles, sponsors, match-day hospitality packages and the lucrative broadcasting offers. That has already been shown in the case of basketball, has reported which has a growth in revenue of 103.3% in media rights and 49.9% in sponsorship since adopting the league format.
Executives from the clubs would no doubt be intrigued by the level of promise shown by the Euroleague. Moreover, they would not have to lose a significant slice of their revenues to UEFA as the governing body currently charges 600 million pounds from the Champions League to cover general costs, administrative charges and other projects.
The money is too high to ignore, and it is time the clubs started listening to it.
Increases the level of competition
The league would see a much more level playing field
If you had Bayern Munich playing BATE Borisov on one channel and FC Barcelona playing Real Madrid on the other, which one would you watch? Another plus point of having a Super League would be having the privilege of watching the best players in the game having a go at each other every weekend, rather than once in a while.
One of the downsides of the Champions League, and indeed of most of the domestic leagues, especially in Italy, France and Spain is the gulf in class between the top sides and those at the foot of the table or group. As such, a lot of these matches become nothing more than an exercise in futility where the bigger team usually demolishes the smaller one and establishes hegemony in their respective countries. It is much better to have a league in which the best play the best, which would ensure a much more level playing field.
Gives fans a proper return for their time and money
Obviously, all this means that with more money and with a better level of competition, fans that both visit the stadiums or watch the game online will have a much better level of experience. Visiting fans will have better services, security and an overall better experience on match days. It is a win-win for both the clubs and those who support it, ensuring that more professionalism and organization enters the game we all love.
Why the European Super League shouldn't see the light of day?
On the other hand, there is a deep, seething pejorative against the European Super League, a project promulgated by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez from rooftops since 2009. This isn't crony capitalism, but more on the lines of financial imperialism in football.
11 richest clubs are looking to break out from UEFA's stronghold to create a league where they face each other once every year in a league format. Vehemently opposed by most clubs all around the world, it borderlines the FFP legally and oscillates over it in a way that sounds a death knell for the world's most loved sport.
If there's a parallel consistency in these clubs' footballing abilities as it is in their account books, there should be no reason to worry, as they would reach the higher echelons of the UEFA Champions League. That, sadly, isn't true on the pitch that year-on-year has given us stupefying upsets that define the game.
Here, we take a look at the reasons why the League shouldn't see the light of day:
The mid-season break already includes a trip to the States, some matches in the Mediterranean and some marketing gigs in the Asia-Pacific region. The underlining pressure of enormity from clubs and its directors notwithstanding, the added duress added by the UEFA Nations League is already a damning challenge for the players.
Adding to that is certainly not something you'd look forward to. This is inhumane, because humans in flesh are involved. Injuries and burnouts are already keeping a lot of players away for longer times and important/world tournaments. Aggravating that situation isn't the most sensible thing to do. Ergonomically, it isn't the best move.
The growing disparity (compared to imbalance situation in countries' economies)
The rich will grow richer, and the poor will turn poorer due to its tangential pressure. Clubs that are sidelining towards the idea are doing it to make more money through ticket receipts and match-day sponsorship, and if they create a league amongst themselves, the TV rights will not be shared with arrangers such as the UEFA or national league structural heads.
Isn't this threatening to stories like Leicester's fairy tale, like Hercules victory over Barcelona or Manchester United's falling regime?
A parallel league, diminishing control and creating a situation of unrest
Competition is the sentiment that keeps football growing and invites audiences for challenges. Season tickets are a lucrative deal all across Europe, and with a promise of 20-year-participation to the 11 founding members, the league would kill equality, competition and the ecstasy of an upset.
Let's face it. Manchester United defeating Juventus isn't an upset, Wolves defeating United is. This would also kill the monopoly of UEFA and other governing bodies across football.
Not based on quality
Concurrently speaking, a lot of clubs that are proposed to be a part of the league aren't even close to the best in their countries. German team Bayern Munchen is 9 points away from the top, and hasn't been really convincing under Niko Kovac. The lesser talked about Man United and the under-waves of unrest at the club, the better.
Every team changes, every season. That's the dynamic of the game. Taking away its most natural fabric for would be a spectacle worth nothing. The states, the Asian audiences, sales and sponsors are already filling the financial coffers at these 'big' clubs. Why do they need another league that wouldn't be based on quality?
No relegation will make it boring
Poor results would not have any impact without relegation
An example closer home, Indian football has been reeling under audiences' displeasure and lack of interest for the same reason, alongside poor viewing experience and scheduling. That trend, however, hasn't affected the European market so far. While the offer to watch these teams play each other year-on-year is certainly tempting, the competition bit will go out the window and no relegation would mean people taking a secondary approach to the game.
Bayern hasn't played FC Barcelona in three years is a point that a lot of pro-European Super League are making. That is rationale, because one of the two clubs have faltered in their journeys at the highest pedestal of European football at one time or another. That's honest, grueling competition, the way it should be. Your quality decides your opposition and your stature, not your money.
Published: Sun Dec 16, 2018 06:05 PM IST