It was recently leaked that discussions have been ongoing with regards to plans to create a European Super League consisting of Europe’s most elite clubs, and appears to be backed by the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool. This proposal is gaining momentum, with not only having a rumoured financial backing of $6bn from the bank JP Morgan, but also from the world’s largest football governing body, FIFA, and could kick off as early as 2022. This could be one of the biggest, if not the biggest ever change to football, which makes us question – will this improve football or ruin the beautiful game as we know it?
The current plans being leaked with regards to the European Super League suggest that the league will run alongside the current domestic leagues, with European Super League games to be played midweek. Although this structure would not initially directly get rid of the domestic leagues that all made us fall in love with football, such as the English Premier League, we could see the quality of the domestic leagues fall over time. This would stem from the fact that more focus would be placed by the top domestic clubs on the European Super League, due to both its prestige and prizes available, and may even see domestic leagues being treated in the same way as lower quality competitions, such as how the Carabao Cup is treated by top English sides, with the top teams fielding weaker sides. The current proposal also suggests that founding members of the European Super League will retain their places no matter how they perform in the league, leaving limited places available (rumoured to be a maximum of 6) to domestic leagues and providing a lower incentive to the league’s founding clubs to play a strong team in their domestic league.
If the top clubs that competed in the European Super League were to field weakened teams in the domestic leagues, this would inevitably see TV revenue going to the domestic leagues fall. As many clubs, particularly in the Premier League, rely heavily on TV revenue and have spent in recent years based upon their projection of TV revenue, we could see a lot of the clubs with a lower global brand struggle financially. Clubs may then have to cut wages, and therefore potentially the quality of players at their club, or even invest less money into their youth structure, which would see a lower quality level of youth development outside the clubs in the European Premier League. With many clubs already struggling to cope with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, this further financial blow could see a few clubs go into liquidation.
Another area where clubs may try to make up the revenue potentially lost from TV revenue is by raising ticket prices. The establishment of the European Premier League would come at serious detriment to the fans that attend their club’s matches on a regular basis, as it could see those on lower incomes be priced out of the game at all levels. As just discussed, lower profile teams may have to raise ticket prices to make up for TV revenue losses. In terms of the top-level clubs, fans will be priced out of going to see their team play due to the cost of travelling to different countries in order to see their team play away from home. They also may have to pay for other amenities, such as hotels, which they might not always have to do if their most important games were all played domestically. This could see football become more of a corporate franchise and hinder the raw passion and atmosphere of the game.
The European Super League would also see the end of the UEFA Champions League. The difference in the format of the European Super League and the Champions League will mean that we would be unlikely to see any fairy-tale road to the final stories that we have seen in the past, with the Champions League including a broader range of countries, in contrast to the the European Premier League where it is understood that participants would be restricted to Europe’s top 5 leagues (EPL, Serie A, Ligue 1, Bundesliga and La Liga).
For instance, in the 2018 Champions League, we all loved watching Ajax’s road to the semi-final, and being moments away from the final before a Lucas Moura injury time winner sent Spurs through. This gave visibility to talented players that were exciting to watch, such as Hakim Ziyech and Matthias De Ligt, that we may not have had the pleasure of watching if the European Super League was in place as Ajax wouldn’t have been in the competition. The Champions League therefore offers more variety to the European Premier League where it would be likely that we would be watching the same teams every year, which would eventually get stale.
Although the European Premier League is gaining momentum, it still faces significant hurdles, such as UEFA having contracts in place for the Champions League until 2024, and the proposed start date coinciding with an already disrupted World Cup year, so it remains to be seen whether the plans for this league will materialise. Do you think the European Premier League will benefit or ruin football as we know it? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Twitter!
By Ryan Mcgarry – Twitter – @Ryan__Mcgarry