Well european football is dead
Can you imagine a scenario where the Lakers, Bulls, and Celtics dropped out of the NBA and formed their own Separatist League in an effort to make more money? This is the bomb that football is currently digesting after the announcement of a European Super League last night. It is the most significant moment in the history of modern football. It’s scandalous.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the big hitters who have signed up for the new midweek competition, which will replace the current UEFA Champions League. The league will be funded by JP Morgan and talks about his roster have reportedly been taking place since October.
Without a pyramid scheme in place, it is symbolic of the Americanization of sport. So it’s fitting that the founding members announced their decision early this morning: hours in the United States for clubs with American owners for a league funded by an American bank. Those responsible do not care about the story or the working class fans who created it. They would gladly chair soulless, cash-generating franchises similar to MLS. It’s a closed store with no meritocracy that practically kills the mystique and novelty of European football. If you care, here’s how the format would work.
The clubs say they will continue to compete in their domestic competitions, but it’s not a question of leaving. The leagues have already confirmed that they won’t be allowed, and for good reason: if the top six clubs make a lot more money than the others, the playing field would be even more uneven than they are now. It would mean more fairy tales like Leicester’s 2015-16 season, and neither would we see West Ham mounting an unlikely top-four challenge as it is currently unfolding. The reverberations would be felt at all levels. Already, rumor has it that players from the clubs involved are banned from participating in the Euro and the World Cup.
Three more teams are expected to join the new Super League, which is set to start in the 2023-24 season. The founding range comes down above all to the commercial potential. For context, Arsenal are set to finish in the top half of the Premier Division and have not been involved in the Champions League for four seasons; The honor roll of their north London rivals Spurs over the past 20 years consists of a League Cup. It remains to be seen how clubs like Ajax, Benfica, Marseille, Rangers and Celtic – legendary clubs with proud European pedigree – are affected in the long run.
The news was widely condemned by fans and pundits. Man Utd legend Gary Neville called for the relegation of the clubs involved, calling it a “criminal act”, while Jamie Carragher called Liverpool “embarrassing”. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the plans “very damaging” and French President Emmanuel Macron also expressed strong disapproval. The fans were even more vehement in their criticism.
The Super League shock comes amid talks about a Champions League reform (for what it’s worth, it’s not an exciting prospect either), which has led to questions whether this could be a high stakes trading currency. It now appears to be a question of who will separate between UEFA and the clubs first, but it’s hard to see a situation in which the latter is backing down. When it comes to the English Premier League, it’s hard to feel too much sympathy, given that they have willingly let these billionaires infiltrate football. An independent regulator to protect competition from foreign capitalist owners with no significant connection to the cities and the supporters their clubs represent has been overdue for years.
It is often said that sport reflects society. The Super League is another example of economic inequality and how wealth is concentrated by a small elite. When there is money to be made, integrity goes out the window. What we have here is a clash between sport and business – the fans versus the customers. As Neville said, the fact that these clubs plotted this as their little peers struggle to survive during a pandemic sums up the ethics of the capitalists who run it. Let them have their contest empty; as Twitter shows, the people who make the game what it is won’t want to do anything about it.