With all the riches of modern-day football it has become clear, in the past few days, that we have reached a new high for the lengths some clubs will go to satisfy their greed. The story, broken by German magazine Der Spiegel, is probably the biggest footballing story since the corruption at FIFA was officially proved back in 2015. This, of course, is the proposed European Super League.
This plan, in essence, is that Europe’s twenty biggest football clubs would break away from their respective football associations and compete in a league of their own creation, the European Super League. In the new league, founding members would be immune from relegation for at least twenty years. On its face, it sounds like a novel concept—which fan wouldn’t want to watch Manchester United versus Real Madrid instead or Brighton versus Huddersfield? This is, of course, until you realised that twenty football clubs would essentially be making themselves exponentially richer, whilst ruining every other football club in the world because most of the firepower and global names would be confined to one division and the casual fan would need to look no place else for entertainment.
There are two developments that have provoked these talks. First is the astronomical TV deal of the Premier League. Because English football has this huge source of income and attention, clubs like Real Madrid, who used to flaunt their brand on the opulence of their ‘Galactico’ sides, can now only just compete with their English counterparts financially. This has been a particular source of annoyance for PSG, who play in an extremely uncompetitive division and are usually home and dry by March in the quest for their domestic title. It is because of this that their revenue from TV can never match that of the notoriously competitive Premier League, as nobody wants to watch Caen play Rennes, and so despite the vast wealth of their owners, PSG are struggling to make a permanent impact on the European scene. Thus, by forming this league, all of the TV money that was committed to English football’s top flight will now be coming their way.
The second reason is the tradition of these clubs to take moneymaking tours across the globe. Spain recently tried to adopt this moneymaking strategy by staging two games in America per year, a move which was derided in the football community. But, in this league, they would not be beholden to UEFA, FIFA rulings nor tradition or history, and so could easily play some or even all of their games in showpiece stadiums across the globe, bringing in huge ticket revenue each week, on top of the already astronomical TV rights deals.
Whatever any of these clubs may say about such a move, they aren’t fooling anybody. Nothing in this venture would be anything but financially driven. I am not one of the football dinosaurs you may see clogging up twitter feeds with their talk about the good old days, when people had passion; but, as somebody who cares about football and enjoys nothing more than seeing a fiercely intense and gripping game of football, I pray to any God that is willing to listen, that this crusade of avarice and corporate self-interest does not happen.