How would you feel about watching top European football clubs play in a closed-format league that bears no risks of relegation, but also has no potential for promotion? Plain good football? A treat for the eyes of football fans, sports bettors and top bookmakers alike? Or something other than that?
European football got into a real threat almost two years ago – on April 21, 2021 – when out of the blue, twelve elite football clubs announced the creation of a new closed competition that would involve only the top flight of the national European leagues in a format that would have no promotions and no relegations.
The idea of having the best football teams playing with each other in a league that is nowhere attached to the current overseeing organization – UEFA – or that is by no means structured in such a way that it produces inequalities and unfair treatment of clubs, however, was not actually welcomed.
On the contrary, the announcement was met with opposition, riots, protests and great disappointment from fans, who not only expressed their disapproval of the Super League, but demanded that clubs pull out of the plan.
British fans, who felt betrayed by their favorite clubs, were the most active in voicing their opposition. Manchester United fans even got into the field to protest about the launch of this new elite league just before a match with Liverpool was on. This was seriously considered by the club and eventually led to Manchester United’s withdrawal only two days later. The rest of the English clubs followed and just like that six out of the twelve founding members had gone.
Three more clubs announced their withdrawal immediately after the first wave of their English counterparts. And so, this left us with only three founding clubs continuing to support, one way or another, the Super League project: Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
But what’s in it for them? Why do they remain attached to a project that has been so heavily criticized and opposed by the vast majority of football fans and stakeholders?
Well, for one thing, these clubs – including all other non-active supporters of the Super League – are having troubles with the current organization of the top clubs’ league in Europe – the UEFA.
Whether they feel that the way the Champions League is now structured, creates inequalities or they believe that they could earn much more revenues than the ones ‘enabled’ and allowed by the UEFA, these clubs see a better financial future with the Super League.
Having an elite competition between the top clubs would give those clubs the financial boost that they need. The idea was that by selling broadcast rights and commercial shares, the clubs would be able to make a lot of money. And a lot of money means greater and better football for them – better signs, better fields, better training systems, better management and so on.
A self-regulated competition would leave out the current organizing and overseeing body UEFA and would allow the founding clubs and the participating members to celebrate their own profits and get a lion’s share of the total revenues. Opposite to what is happening now – where UEFA redistributes revenues to all clubs, including smaller clubs – the development of Super League would mean that all money will be kept to the big teams.
At the same time, another goal behind the launch of the Super League was to close the gap between the huge revenue-making EPL and the remaining top non-English football leagues. Gradually, the big La Liga or Serie A or other leagues, will get to win as much as the EPL is winning – being the league that generates surprisingly very high revenues.
And of course we should not forget the governing body itself. UEFA has enemies and not everybody is happy with how the leagues are organized and structured and how the organization is regulating the clubs’ finances. Simply put, some clubs don’t want someone over their head telling them how to spend their money or how much they make or even putting on restrictions under specific policies.
So, given these broad reasons for the creation of the European Super League, do we need to worry about it still being an option for the near future?
For one thing, the fact that the venture remains until today can tell us a lot about future plans. Since there are three founding clubs still attached to the project, there is a potential for materialization afterall. And also, since the ‘problems’ have not yet been resolved and many clubs feel the way they feel about UEFA, there is always the chance of giving actual shape to the new elite league.