Arsenal are candidates to join the latest iteration of a “super league” plan that would include the top teams from across the continental leagues, according to Sky Sports. To fund the European Super League, per Sky, a $6 billion package is being assembled by investors / financiers to create the 18-team competition and entice clubs to join.
The plan, as is currently being reported, would be for the league to run concurrently with (not replace) the club season then have the top-placing teams play a knockout tournament to determine the winners. The teams you’d expect to be linked with a super league have been — Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, PSG, Juventus, Bayern Munich. But there is little word on whether any of those clubs would actually participate, save for Real Madrid whose President Florentino Perez is understood to be one of the driving forces behind the project.
According to Sky, the proposal has FIFA backing but likely doesn’t have the support of UEFA. That’s not a surprise. UEFA has the Champions League, in which most of the top teams are perennial contenders. It’s worth a lot of money. Why would they create competition for their own property?
It boils down to what all the super league proposals have been about — money. Everybody wants to see it flowing into their own pockets and not the other guy’s coffers. This is a FIFA vs. UEFA thing; the global governing body resents that the European governing body has the most lucrative annual competition and wants it for themselves.
FIFA may try to sway the marquee teams to their side by promising them more money, more control, and perhaps permanent places in the format. If I’m Arsenal (or A.C. Milan, or any other fringe CL team), it’s an appealing prospect. Guaranteed access to the slush fund that allows the top teams to remain at the top by outspending their domestic competition is something I’d want, especially given the current financial situation at the club.
The current proposal wouldn’t break teams away from the domestic leagues. Some of the previous iterations would have done that. The problem, as I see it, is with artificially setting which teams are in the European Premier League. There needs to be room for teams to move in and out of the format, otherwise the domestic leagues may stagnate.
But I’m not sure creating a super league would be the guaranteed death knell for domestic leagues that some do. The Champions League basically is a super league that helps the rich stay rich and maintain their grip on power — both financial and table-wise. When was the last time a non-glamour team used Champions League qualification to break into and remain in the ranks of the European elite? It hasn’t really happened. I’m not convinced that changing who controls the money and tinkering with who has access will have much effect.
If you couldn’t tell, my reaction to all this is **shrug**. Purely as a football fan, I like the idea of top teams playing each other more frequently, although it’s not clear that would necessarily happen under this new plan. It would just be a new Champions League. But if Arsenal are permanently included in that equation as opposed to having to struggle to qualify for it each year — sure, why not. I’m not sure that it would be functionally different enough from the Champions League to matter to me.