The European Super League is going to happen. Rightly or wrongly, there’s no getting away from that. The fact is that these clubs that are involved in this breakaway league have owners that don’t care what you think, don’t care about the history of your clubs, and don’t care that players and managers are speaking out against this proposal. They have made up their minds and there’s no turning back.
So what the hell has brought us to this point?
The idea of a breakaway league within football has been touted for decades now. As far back as I can remember, and I’ve been following the beautiful game since I was five years old so well over 40 years now, there has been talk that the biggest teams in the three biggest leagues- England, Spain, and Italy -have wanted to strike out on their own and form a competition that would bring blockbuster matches, week in and week out. Throughout those years this was nothing but a pipe dream, yet this past Sunday that pipe dream suddenly turned into a reality as it was announced that, arguably, the 12 biggest teams in the world had decided to push on with plans to replace the Champions League.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham Hotspur announced that they would be the founding members of the European Super League, to be played on a Wednesday, in opposition to the current Champions League format. And this has started an all-out war, that will change the face of football forever.
But what does it actually entail?
The plan seems to be to have 20 of the best teams in the world compete each year, in a league-type system, and the top four from both leagues will move onto the knockout stage, then the finals. Simple, right? God no.
The 15 founding clubs cannot EVER be removed from this competition. No matter how badly they perform, no matter if they finish bottom of their respective league, they cannot be relegated. There is no cause and effect here. If you have a bad season in your respective league you will, very possibly, end up in a lower division, but with the ESL, as long as you jumped on board at the beginning, then you’re golden. According to some sources, this is down to the owners not understanding the concept of relegation. They can’t seem to get their collective heads around how any competition that brings in as much money as the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A, could see the ‘biggest’ names removed from that fat stack of cash.
And don’t get any other ideas here, cash is King and this is all about greed. The main instigators of this are the richest clubs in the world and they don’t just want their part of the pie, they want everyone else’s as well. Those founding clubs have been promised 3.5 BILLION each to sign on to this concept and that, and that alone, is what’s pushing this forward.
Well then, that’s simple enough, we all know who the enemy is here, don’t we.
No. No, we don’t.
See, it’s easy to look at the owners of these clubs and dump all the blame on their doorstep, and god knows they deserve as much of the shit as they can possibly swallow, but they’re not the only ones at fault here.
First off, there’s FIFA. An organization so bent and corrupt that half of its members ended up in jail and blackballed from professional football for life. This is an organization that thought that it will be a brilliant idea to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and by thought I mean had their bank accounts swollen. Oh, and that it will run during November and December of that year, meaning that all domestic competitions will have to be put on hold until the tournament is over. And then when the seasons do start back up, most of the top teams will be without their International contingents for an unspecified amount of time, depending on how deep into the World Cup their nations go or, as is always the case, due to injuries. It’s also interesting to note that FIFA hasn’t actually come out and fully condemned the formation of the ESL. They’ve said they’re against it, but they hope that a logical conclusion can be found. Which, to me, sounds like they’re waiting to see where the chips fall in the hope that when the ESL goes ahead, they can get a chunk of the money that’s floating around.
Then there’s UEFA. They announced on Monday that the Champions League and the Europa League would be undergoing a transformation in 2024. This will see the Champions League extended from 32 teams to 36 and the group stages of the competition will now be replaced by a single league.
Every club will now be guaranteed a minimum of 10 league stage games against 10 different opponents (five home games, five away) rather than the previous six matches against three teams, played on a home and away basis.
The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16 of the competition.
Similar format changes will also be applied to the UEFA Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and UEFA Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage). Subject to further discussions and agreements, these two competitions may also be expanded to a total of 36 teams each in the league stage.”
This means that, for example, anyone qualifying for this via the Premier League would have to play an extra 10 games, minimum, on top of the 38 that they play during their domestic season. And let’s not forget, there’s the FA Cup AND the League Cup to also add to those numbers, as well as International qualifiers and friendlies for the players. UEFA are a f*cking joke. They claim that this is to help with the development of the game, but it’s all about the money. The more games they have, the more they can charge broadcasters to show them, and the more that those broadcasters can fleece out of the fans who want to follow their team wherever they go. When the ESL was announced, UEFA quickly sprung into action. threatening those clubs involved with expulsion from their domestic leagues and European competition, and this might happen sooner than you think. UEFA are getting together on Friday to decide the fate of Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Man City in this year’s Champions League. Seeing as how we’re at the semi-final stage if/when they boot them out of the tournament, it means PSG win by default. And the nerve of this fucker UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin to claim he’s concerned about the fans of football. All he cares about is that if these clubs form their own league, then UEFA is going to lose out on a huge payday.
Next, we’ve got the Premier League. The poor Premier League who are threatening sanctions and possible suspension from their competition. How dare these teams try and break away from the most important league in the world. How dare they do this to their fans. You mean the same fans that you cared so badly about that you were charging £15 to watch games that weren’t already bought by SKY and BT during a fucking pandemic.
And don’t think I’ve forgotten about SKY and BT. They might have their pundits screaming blue murder over the ESL, but they’re still happy to charge us £500 a year to watch football. £500 a goddamn year. They’re quite happy to move fixtures around so it serves their purpose, without taking into consideration the needs of both the teams involved and their fans. And do you honestly think that when the ESL becomes a reality then you won’t have both of these vultures bidding for the rights to every single match and then charging us a massive amount of money to watch them. They’re hypocrites and I hope when Gary Fucking Neville sits next to Martin Tyler for the first game, he has the decency to apologize for not standing by his convictions and walking away, instead of sucking on the almighty dollar.
The facts are this. The ESL will happen. The owners involved consider those of us who have followed teams for years “Legacy Fans”, who are only concerned about the past and have no vision of the future. The ESL isn’t for us, it’s about taking these teams globally and to the millions of fans around the world who never get to see their favorite soccer ball squad close up. These are the people that they are trying to reach and if it means that Liverpool vs Real Madrid happens in New York, then so be it. If it means that Barcelona faces Inter Milian in Tokyo, then that’s what’s going to happen and there ain’t dick we can do about it.
If these clubs leave their respective leagues it will not matter if their ‘local’ fans follow them as they will be marketed as global brands, but what it will do is kill the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A, quicker than if they’d taken it out behind the woodshed and put a f*cking bullet in its brain. Imagine those leagues without the big hitters in them. I’m not being mean here or trying to be funny, but I doubt that West Ham sells as many shirts in China as Madrid or Barcelona do. I doubt very fucking much that people are getting up at three in the morning in Japan to watch Burnley vs. Palace in anywhere near the numbers that they do to watch Liverpool vs. Man Utd. And if they go, the money goes and if the money goes the fallout will be horrendous.
Now, at the time of writing, the rumor is that Chelsea and Mn City are looking to get out of the ESL as soon as they can. The backlash against them, and the fact that they feel as if they were railroaded into it for fear of being left behind, means that they don’t feel as if they can follow through on their initial plans, but it won’t make a difference. The only real difference it will make is that both of these clubs will be able to dominate the Premier League for the foreseeable future without any other teams around them with the financial muscle to oppose. But it still won’t matter.
Every single league below the crippled top division will be starved of the trickledown effect. Part of the joy of getting relegated from the PL means parachute payments to offset the cost of loss of earnings, but when SKY and BT go sniffing around for that ESL dollar, that’s all out of the window. Even if neither of those companies forks out the astronomical cost for the rights to the ESL, then there are more than enough out there who will. The PL won’t die, it will always be there, but in terms of income generated without the ‘Big 6’, it will be Championship level at best and that will see grassroots football snuffed out like a match in a rainstorm. I don’t care if you believe it or not, financial these teams ARE on another level altogether which is why they can pull this shit and which is why, if all this goes ahead, you can kiss goodbye to the three biggest leagues in the world and spend your afternoons hoping to get a stream for a Bayern Munich game.
And the weird thing is, we’re kind of to blame. We let these greedy bastards in 30 years ago, happy to have a ton of matches streamed into our homes, for the right price, each and every week, and now look where it’s gotten us.
As far as I’m concerned, football died on 20th February 1992, when we allowed The Premier League to be formed and decided that money was more important than club history and the needs of the fans. The ESL is just nailing the coffin lid shut.