Well, they’ve gone and done it. At 12:15 AM Central European Time, the Founding Clubs of the European Super League announced their intention to form a new European competition. After a day of blowback, from fans, to government officials and football governing boards, you can see why they did at 12:15 AM; as always, these billionaire chuds have the backbone of a wet piece of paper.
And make no mistake: this is the action of a bunch of billionaire chuds. Stan Kroenke may have lost a few million during the pandemic, but it sure as hell didn’t mean he wasn’t one of the richest people who owned a team in the sport. But using the pandemic was the cover for these owners to do what they’ve always done: be unrepentantly greedy. They wanted more, and more, and more, and when UEFA hit the limit of what they could offer, they went elsewhere: to JP Morgan.
In terms of sporting merit, there absolutely is none. The European Super League will mostly be a closed competition: 12 Founding Clubs, plus an expected other three, plus five clubs who will “earn” their way into the competition. It renders the Champions League and Europa League dead as a sporting competition, of course; but, despite the clubs promise to “preserve the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game,” they will do no such thing. Sure, they may fulfill domestic fixtures, but there will be no need to play any meaningful player, because there will be no need to actually compete in these domestic leagues.
Currently, Arsenal are 9th. Spurs are 7th; Chelsea and Liverpool and Manchester United are all in danger of potentially missing out of the Champions League. Their games for the rest of the season matter, even as Manchester City sail away with the league. This will not be the case in the new European Super League—the games will not matter, and if you’re West Ham or Leicester, well, you should’ve been a been club ten years ago. There will be no real punishment for finishing in the bottom half; hell, you could be a European Super League club and be relegated, and it would not matter, because you’d have your precious European Super League spot, and the $300 million a year it provides. In terms of sporting integrity, it will remove all of it from the domestic calendar.
And that will have ramifications. Sky, BT, NBC and other broadcasters will no longer pay millions for the rights to games. If you need convincing, just look at Ligue Un, or Serie A; leagues that are not very competitive do not have big television deals. This will widen the gap between the haves and have nots, rendering every club outside of the European Super League a feeder club. This has ramifications, not only for clubs, but for players.
With a fixed amount of money to spend (read salary caps) this is ownership groups trying to lessen the amount of money they spend in transfer fees and wages. If the European Super League agree to keep costs down, it will have an effect on all top-flight players. Because of the inevitable loss of television money and prestige, clubs will be desperate to sell, and players will have fewer options. While one could argue that might be healthy for the game as a whole, whenever billionaires have a chance to cut spending through paying their workers less, they take it, and that is the case here, even if the labor force consists of millionaires.
Football has been on the path to eat itself for some time. The way things have been have not been good. But this new development is hardly one that is going to benefit fans, or small clubs, or most players; it is going to benefit twelve rich owners, who will no longer have any sporting pressure to actually try to win football matches; they can put out a rubbish team and still rake in millions. And when that is the end result, sport loses its only purpose. When it’s okay for your team to fucking suck, that’s a sign that the wider environment fucking sucks, and the European Super League will be no different.