The potential emergence of the European Super League leaves football fans more disillusioned than ever before.
Manchester United and Liverpool, England’s two most successful clubs. These bitter rivals have quite a lot in common with each other; millions of supporters worldwide, a collection of trophies matched only by a handful of clubs across the continent, players that are legends not just at their own club but icons of world football and of course, two stadiums that few sporting organisations around the world can claim to equal. Despite all of this, there is one common interest that both clubs have seemingly placed above on field achievement or fan experience, once the two pillars of the sport. That is greed.
With reports at the start of this week that both clubs have held discussions with the other major European clubs mentioned above about creating a European Super League, with a potential start date of 2022, it has become clear to the majority of football fans across Europe that the ‘Super’ included in the name of this competition is not intended for the millions of football fans who support Europe’s traditional ‘super clubs’. At a time when the future of countless football clubs across Ireland, Britain and continental Europe is up in the air due to the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe’s biggest clubs have shown yet again that they simply do not care for clubs who are in serious peril and may not survive for much longer without desperately needed financial support.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly obvious to anyone who even has a passing interest in football that money has become the sole driving force behind the game. Trophies and fan contentment are nice side projects for executives in the board rooms of elite football clubs, but they are ultimately meaningless unless they put money in the already overflowing pockets of the owners of these clubs. For those of you that understandably fail to comprehend why billionaires feel the need to destroy the format that people young and old have fallen in love with for decades just to make more money that they do not need, you must understand that these people have one goal: continuing to make money until there’s no more left to make. It’s the very reason why they are such successful businesspeople. They’re ruthless and driven, relentless and power hungry. Great traits to have when selling a product or closing a business deal. But even if they somehow come to the realisation that their actions will have a detrimental impact on millions of their own fans, they will shrug it off and go ahead with their moneymaking plans.
So, what is this much talked about competition that will make hundreds of millions for the already wealthy owners of Europe’s powerhouse clubs? Well, the idea for the league is a basic concept. It will consist of 18 of Europe’s biggest and best teams. 12 of these teams will be founding members. Alongside United and Liverpool, other founding members include Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid from Spain, Bayern Munich from Germany, PSG from France and Juventus from Italy. There will be 34 games consisting of home and away ties that will be played midweek. Crucially, the midweek games mean that the domestic leagues such as the Premier League will not be abolished, although the importance of the domestic leagues will certainly come in for some serious questioning from most quarters. A $6 billion debt package from Wall Street bank JP Morgan will help fund the project initially and it is expected that more financial institutions will become involved with the financing as the birth of the league gets closer. To many the most important component of the potential formation of the league is the backing from football’s world governing body, FIFA. This is surely the biggest sign that the seemingly imminent emergence of this tournament is not something that UEFA and other opposing parties should take lightly.
With hundreds of millions of dollars in prize money available to the teams who are a part of the lucrative league, it goes without saying that every major club in Europe will want to be involved form the start. Football clubs, however big or small, were once a commodity that existed for the benefit of the local community and its supporters that also just so happened to be in a position to make enough money to remain financially viable. Now, they are in place to generate obscene amounts of wealth for their owners and just so happen to play football from time to time. A sad but undeniable truth that has irreparably destroyed the joy of the sport for many. A joy that all the money in the world could never replace for a football fan.