“Football is the game of the people and unites the world and the officials of this game are sane brains and one can say that they would not come up with any destructive ideas, which disturb the quality, balance and rhythm in world football like the officials in cricket did”
In the annual meeting of the greatest cub in the history of football, Real Madrid, President Florentino Perez spoke out in favour of the European Super League. The idea is to develop a league similar to the model seen in the United States with the NBA with the ambition of increasing the income of the elite and lightening the load on players.
Perez pointed to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the massive impact it has had on the landscape of European football as providing the impetus to push through this change.
“Nothing will ever be the same again,” Perez said.
“The pandemic has changed everything; It has made us all more vulnerable and also football. Football needs formulas that make it more competitive and exciting.
“[Madrid] has participated in all the innovations and has protected these innovations in our sport. The club was the sole founder of Fifa in 1904 along with seven country federations, and in 1955 collaborated with L’Equipe to promote the creation of the European Cup, a revolutionary moment that changed the history of football.”
📝 [Carrusel] | Structure of the European Super League:
– League of 16/18 teams
– All belonging to the top 5 Leagues: 🇪🇸🏴🇮🇹🇩🇪🇫🇷
– Replaces the #UCL but compatible with local leagues
– It would be played home/away
– 32 or 36 matchdays depending on the final no. of teams. #rmlive pic.twitter.com/lQzaHAdUi6
— Los Blancos Live (@blancoslive) December 20, 2020
“Without all these changes, football could not have been what it is today, but we need a new change. Football has to face this new era and that’s what Madrid will do, to defend the fans.”
Josep Maria Bartomeu also admitted in his final press conference as Barcelona President that he had signed the club up for the European Super League.
The comments of Perez have relived the concept of the European Super League, which has around the corner for more than three decades.
In the early 1990s, a group led by Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, media mogul and one-time owner of AC Milan, considered a breakaway European competition
In 1998, the Italian company, Media Partners investigated the matters.
The plan experienced a premature death when UEFA planned to expand the Champions League and abolish the Cup Winners Cup in order to better accommodate clubs that were considering defecting in order to join the proposed Super League.
In 2009, Perez endorsed the idea again! In the same year, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger predicted a super league would become reality within 10-year time due to revenue pressure on the continent’s elite teams.
In 2012, legendary Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf also predicted the inception of the competition and gave it his backing.
A year later, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan said that he believes the Old Firm clubs of Celtic and Rangers would join a future new 38-club two-division European Super League.
In 2016, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United, were seen leaving a meeting with Stephen M. Ross’ representatives that discussed the proposition of a European Super League.
The same year, UEFA again discussed the possibility of creating a closed league containing the 16 best teams in European football from the highest-ranked national leagues. These 16 teams would have been divided into 2 groups, with 8 teams in each group.
After 56 games in each group under the round-robin system, the teams that finished in places 1-4 would qualify for the quarter-finals.
That plan was finally rejected and UEFA, in order to avoid the creation of a Super League, made changes to the structure of the UEFA Champions League.
In 2018, Football Leaks claimed that there had been undercover talks about the creation of a new continental club competition, the European Super League, from 2021.
In October 2020, Sky Sports claimed that FIFA was proposing a replacement for the UEFA Champions League called the European Premier League involving up to 18 teams in a round-robin system and post league playoff-style knockout tournament with no relegation similar to major league sports competitions in the United States such as the NFL, NBA and MLS.
English Premier League clubs, as well as clubs from Spain, Italy, France, and Germany, have been invited. Barcelona has accepted the proposal for it to join the Super League the day before President Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned.
Last year, UEFA and the ECA proposed reforms which envisaged a promotion and relegation system, with the top 24 teams in the Champions League gaining automatic qualification for the following year’s competition.
Funny how critical Sky Sports are being about the money in this European Super League considering they tried to charge us £14.95 to watch West Brom vs Burnley
— Sam. 🎄 (@SamAIex) October 20, 2020
Those plans were shelved because of protests from smaller clubs, national leagues and fans.
Mr. Agnelli maintains that changes to the Uefa competitions are needed to retain enthusiasm among younger audiences. “It’s not about today or next cycle,” he says.
“It’s about 15-20 years from now . . . what I would like is that football remains, if not increases, it’s premium position as the best sport in the world.”
The debate and further meetings about this reformation had been paused courtesy of the COVID-19 Pandemic and thus, the Super League is trying to fill the vacuum.
The idea gaining the most traction is to replace the opening Champions League group stage — in which groups of four teams play each other home and away — with a so-called “Swiss model” based on chess competitions.
Each team would play 10 matches against 10 different opponents. Those with the best records would qualify for the knockout rounds.
This Swiss model is generating excitement because “for the first time in history, these Champions League teams would be ranked together on the same tables.”
Then there is the possibility of replacing home and away legs with one-off ties — a format instituted last season due to the pandemic.
The smaller clubs and leagues worry that altering the status quo cuts them further adrift from the game’s financial giants.
Lars-Christer Olsson, chair of European Leagues, the body which represents national competitions, insists there are “red lines” in any format changes. This includes maintaining the link between performances in domestic leagues in order to qualify for European contests.
“We don’t want anything to be established to make the Champions League closer to a private league at the top of the European pyramid,” says Mr. Olsson.
Marca stated, “Leaders of the elite clubs believe that the Champions League’s format has passed its best by date and that 15 games aren’t enough.”
“They are of the belief that a 30 game season could be reached with 16 teams forming the Super League, but he knows that a closed league isn’t the most convenient, meaning the format is still under development and alternative options are still being considered with the hopes of attracting the widest possible market to tap into.”
“A lot of clubs also feel that the distribution of television rights in a number of countries is unfair, so there’s a desire to join another competition that can see things spread in a way they’re happier with.”
“There has been a lot of talk of money, but those behind the project are confident that the prize fund for the winners will be much more than the 120 million euros that winning the Champions League delivers.”
“In the case of Spain, the COVID-19 crisis highlighted and worsened the problematic distribution of finances. Clubs that have the biggest attendances are the most hit, leading to those upstairs trying to find ways to keep money flowing.”
“Their positions are clear. There’s an understanding that there’s a need to change, and to evolve.”
“Clubs intend to go ahead with their domestic leagues, rather than going to war with them, but they understand that the Super League will become the priority, leading to them boasting larger squads. Most of the big clubs are in favour of the top leagues shrinking in size in order to reduce the number of games they’d have to play.”
“Without a 100 percent defined format, the idea is to fill the gap left by the Champions League, a competition that UEFA are already planning to give a facelift to in 2024. Clubs aren’t willing to give UEFA too much room to maneuver though, and they’re adamant that change is necessary. The idea is to listen to UEFA, but to put the clubs’ demands first.”
How much FIFA would be involved in this concept remains a moot question, but in reality, this concept is totally out of their jurisdiction. But it has been learned, “FIFA accept and support the idea of a Super League. There could also be another change to come in the international football calendar.”
The idea of the Super League has not been received well by many as the German and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos stated, “The gap between the big clubs and small will expand even more. Everything does not always have to be faster, with more and more money.”
AC Milan chief executive Ivan Gazidis has downplayed the threat a potential European Super League poses to world football. La Liga Chief Javier Tebas saying it is a “weak and imaginary competition!” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he hopes it will “never happen,” Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola believes it would lead to the death of domestic football.
The Manchester United executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, has signaled the club would not take part in any mooted European breakaway league, saying that competition changes after 2024 must be “complementary to thriving domestic leagues.”
Gazidis said, “This conversation about the European Super League has been going on for probably more than 20 years,” he told BBC Sport. “The reality is there are many different ways that European football could develop over the next 5-10 years.”
“I don’t think there’s a big likelihood that we see a Super League in the way that people talk about it.”
“Do I think that there could be developments in the way that the Champions League develops? Absolutely I do. That’s a conversation we should have and have it with an open mind.”
Paolo Dal Pino, Serie A’s president, rejects the idea, saying: “There is absolutely no way we accept clauses like this.” The other option for the private equity groups, according to people close to their deliberations, is to invest in the super league itself.
BBC created a poll about the concept where the outcome suggests, the majority in London welcomed the idea.
In a Savanta ComRes poll of 2,100 football fans, almost half of younger fans (48%) said they would be happy about the prospect of a European Super League, while 18% said they would be unhappy.
In contrast, just 10% of fans aged 55 and over were happy about the idea, with close to two-thirds (63%) unhappy.
The poll also shows:
Across all ages, 30% of fans were happy about the idea of a European Super League, with 40% unhappy.
More than a third (35%) of fans aged 55 and over said they felt a breakaway league would be ‘very bad’ for football overall. Among fans aged 18-34, that figure was just 10%.
A fifth (20%) of younger fans thought the European Super League would be a ‘very good’ idea for football overall, compared to just 6% of older fans.
Close to half of male fans (48%) are unhappy at the idea of a European Super League, as opposed to just under a quarter (23%) of female football fans.
More than a third (35%) of female football fans are happy about the idea.
— M•A•J (@Ultra_Suristic) December 5, 2020
The Serbian-American economist, author of the book ‘Global Inequality’ and a visiting professor at the City University of New York, is a fervent soccer fan and admits, “The world has become very commercialized. We go where the money is. There is no reason why soccer wouldn’t do that. In the last 30 years or so, soccer has become much more commercialized and globalized.”
“The Premiership was important,” says Milanovic.
“The Bosman ruling was a turning point, which enabled movement of labor within Europe for soccer players. The players market is probably the most globalized market in the world in terms of one type of skill. You don’t have doctors who can move so easily from Mali to France, England, or Spain. You don’t have any other profession – writers, software engineers. Nobody! “
“They all have limits in the ability to move across borders, but soccer players don’t and that is interesting because it gives us an inside how a totally open global labor market would work. I think that we would get a concentration of quality – because it is driven by money. There were several elements to soccer’s high commercialization: The Bosman ruling, the growth in England, the technological ability to project yourself.”
“The European Super League is inevitable,” says Milanovic. “All the commercial factors are in favor and Europe is a small area. Success between clubs is essentially driven by inequality in money. Manchester City is a recent example, a good club that was not at the top level. Once they had the money, they became a European top club, like PSG. There is very clearly a movement towards a Super League. It is totally feasible, and it would bring an enormous amount of money. Would Coronavirus make a difference? I doubt that. It is an intermission.”
According to Forbes, “Milanovic doesn’t believe the American sports model can provide a solution for European soccer. Franchises go against the grain of European soccer clubs, which often have socio-political foundations.”
“Even though the game is teetering on the edge, Milanovic still sees a bright future for soccer. He considers national teams and the inclusive format of the World Cup a positive, and an outlier. At the international level, the game hasn’t been commercialized entirely yet. Major international stars still play for their nationals teams, even if there is a little financial incentive.”
“I had a debate with Nate Silver,” explains Milanovic. “He was saying: Well, how about having the World Cup always on beautiful fields in Germany or the U.S. with the 12 best national teams? That would totally destroy the objective of soccer. There is actually no real money for Neymar to play well for Brazil. It leaves the de facto less commercialized part alive. If we were to do destroy that as well, we could really destroy the soul of soccer entirely.”
There are a lot of ifs and buts about this concept, but whether it is a demon or not, none can claim that directly on the basis of guesses. The whole project is still under construction yet to become reality. And for which, the doomsday scenario is not yet imminent in world football.
Football is the game of the people and unites the world and the officials of this game are sane brains and one can say that they would not come up with any destructive ideas, which would disturb the quality, balance and rhythm in world football like the officials in cricket did.