It’s the curse of the 21st century. Nothing is personal anymore, nor about passion. Everything is a business. Well, our beautiful game hasn’t been spared from this cruelty either. Football has become a money minting business after all. Though this has had it’s benefits too, with club managements investing heavily in technology off the pitch. It has helped players take their games to the next level.
But on 18th of April 2021, the boundaries were crossed, big time. Spanish club Real Madrid’s long time president Florentino Perez announced the European Super League — a league of the best clubs in Europe but totally ungoverned by the European footballing association, UEFA. Twelve clubs from Spain, England and Italy have already signed contracts which bind them to play in the inaugural season of the Super League, which starts parallel to the 2021–22 season. The game’s gone.
Amidst widespread protest from the giants like UEFA and FIFA as well as the fans likewise, this announcement has taken the world by storm. It was followed by UEFA fast-tracking their announcement of the new format of the Champions League from 2024–25 on Monday, which adopts the Swiss model. A league of 36 teams rather than the usual 32, which compete round the year and the top-eight then fight for glory in the knockout stages. But is it even relevant anymore?
With the European Super League being played parallel to the Champions League, the latter competition loses all its charm as the heavyweight clubs will not be playing in it anymore. No Real Madrid, No Manchester United, No Barcelona — No Messi nor Cristiano.
The finer details of how these two different universes will survive in European football still remain a mystery, which will not be solved as earliest as the beginning of the 2021–22 season. But one thing is for sure, there are going to be gargantuan long term consequences of this revolution on off the pitch matters which nobody has envisaged.
The rich will get richer, poor will become poorer
“It’s the beauty of football — that even the smaller sides can beat the giants sometimes…” — Marcelo Bielsa.
There is nothing truer than this statement by the legendary Argentinian coach, currently managing Leeds United in the Premier League. With the arrival of the Super League, there won’t be any upsets on midweek nights as some local club from Croatia arrive in England and beat the game’s historical giant at the Theatre of Dreams. There won’t be the euphoria of the fans of smaller sides when they beat the bigger ones. But it’s more than just the passion.
Talks are on for the domestic leagues like Premier League, La Liga and Serie A for suspending the Super League clubs from playing in the top flight. If it happens, though the chances of the smaller teams get a huge push, financially they will suffer immensely. Sky Sports has the world’s most lucrative broadcasting contract with the Premier League. Will they be interested from the next season if their channels do not show Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea fight it out every weekend? Absolutely not.
The revenues from broadcasts will go down, eventually dropping a huge chunk of income for the bottom-half clubs in the league who need it for survival. Debts will rise. Football will be lost.
Continental and European International Competitions on hold?
Suddenly UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has become the most talked about man in the entire world — and rightly so. The billions of football fans worldwide are counting upon Ceferin to sort things out, so that they can enjoy the beautiful game again. The Slovenian is very well aware of this and is trying his best to get his word out to the traitors from the Super League.
“As previously announced by FIFA and the six confederations, the players who will play in the teams that might play in the closed league will be banned on playing the World Cup and Euro. So they will not be able to represent the national teams at any matches.”
The press release from UEFA makes it very clear that the Super League shall have direct implications on the European Championships later this year, as well as the World Cup in Qatar next year. But the torchbearers of the European Super League do not seem to budge.
“We will create our own World Cup and European Championships…” Florentino Perez was quoted saying on Sunday when the news broke out about the possible effects of this new venture on the sport’s biggest fiestas.
With both the parties on opposite footings, we, as football fans, might see the Euros getting delayed this year again — and this time not due to COVID.
Clubs to be stripped of titles won domestically and internationally?
After the newly formed European Super League Board and UEFA’s back to back announcements, the English Premier League in association with the England FA were the first ones to break the silence.
“The Premier League condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid. A European Super League will undermine the appeal of the whole game, and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs, and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper. We will work with fans, The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA, as well as other stakeholders, at home and abroad, to defend the integrity and future prospects of English football in the best interests of the game.” said a press release from Premier League on Monday. Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A are still tight-lipped about the situation.
Insider sources from the English footballing governances have also revealed that if things turn worse, the Top-Six as they are traditionally called, might be stripped off the titles and records from 1992 onwards. This will see new Champions being crowned for the current year as well as the previous three decades worth of seasons. For the footballing fraternity, this is the worst thing that could happen.
With that being said, we could potentially see Leicester being crowned Champions this season and Wolverhampton Wanderers claiming the 2018–19 title undisputedly — Miraculous stuff.
What about the rapidly growing Women’s football?
After almost 8 decades of men’s football dominating the charts worldwide, the women’s game was just beginning to show the glimpses of development in the last couple of years. Be it the FIFA Women’s World Cup finding its highest viewership or USA International starlet Megan Rapinoe campaigning heavily for the disparities between the genders when it comes to the beautiful game — women’s football has seen a tremendous increase in potential.
But the European Super League halts this much needed progress too. It is a huge uncertainty as to what the future holds for the women’s teams of the 12 clubs which will fade away from the UEFA and FIFA governance in the coming years. Will the female sides, too, be part of another Women’s Super League?
There are still cases everyday where women footballers open up about not getting proper opportunities in the game due to the so-called hierarchy of the clubs that has happened due to the men’s game. This is definitely about to increase multi-fold if the clubs form another Women’s annual tournament separately too. It’s amazing how two days’ worth of announcements have changed the entire game.
The good part of the European Super League
Optimists still believe that the coming months should see both UEFA and the ESL Boards find an agreement to dissolve the differences and create sustainable reforms. With the Super League contracts already signed and binding, it seems a bit difficult though — but anything can happen if the fans come out on the streets, which has already started worldwide.
The one good rare thing that could happen out of this, is the monopoly of UEFA and FIFA breaking down. While we talked earlier in favour of UEFA, the European primary governing body is upto no good either. There are a lot of irregularities in the Board which common man is unknown to — both financially and operationally.
With the Super League threatening their existence, the clubs (both small and big) would be able to negotiate better earnings and agreements with UEFA/FIFA for the competitions they participate in, every year. Not only this, but also the redundant formats of the game which haven’t changed since 1990s will undergo a great reformed too.
This is the best scenario that could happen out of this entire fiasco that has taken place over the last 72 hours in world football. Well, as fans, we can still enjoy the ongoing season which sees the game being run as we like. For more passionate fans, we at Mighty Tips, offer daily betting tips driven by industry-best analysis. Let’s enjoy it till it lasts.