Despite many false dawns over the years, a European Super League is now a genuine possibility as 12 European clubs pledged their loyalty to the inception of a competition that will change football forever.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham are the culprits who have chosen to break away from UEFA’s Champions League and form their own elite continental competition.
So what does this mean for football? Here is what the situation is.
What is The Super League?
The Super League will be a competition containing almost all of Europe’s top clubs, who have departed from the UEFA Champions League to create a ring-fenced tournament containing solely ‘super clubs’.
Under the alleged rules of the Super League, the 12 founding clubs – plus another three who are reportedly set to join – will be permanent members of the competition, meaning they will never be relegated regardless of performance.
As of current, teams need to qualify for the Champions League, with teams who appear in the tournament appearing on merit, not on privilege.
This means, for example, if Tottenham finished 8th in the Premier League, it wouldn’t mean anything as they are a permanent club of the Super League.
Another five teams will also be invited each season based on their performances in other competitions to make it a 20 team tournament.
The competition will be divided into two groups of ten, with the top three finishing sides after all teams have played each other home-and-away qualifying automatically for the quarter finals.
The fourth and fifth placed sides will go into a two-legged tie to decide who will take the remaining places in the quarter finals.
From then on it will be the traditional ‘finals-like’ set of ties with two-legged stages until a one-off final decides the overall winner.
Who will be competing?
As mentioned earlier, the ‘big six’ in the Premier League – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man United and Tottenham – have all agreed to partake whilst three teams from Spain and Italy have too pledged their participation.
There will be five clubs who are invited each season to take part in the league, but details of who they are and how they will be selected haven’t yet been released.
In terms of which big clubs aren’t competing, German clubs Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have both rejected the notion, whilst French side Paris Saint-Germain have also chosen not to participate.
However, Real Madrid president – and now Super League chairman, Florentino Perez – has claimed that the Super League weren’t rejected by these clubs, but instead haven’t held discussions with the sides yet.
Florentino Perez to El Chiringuito: "We have not invited PSG yet, we're gonna talk with many clubs and explicate them about the #SuperLeague project. If Bayern refuses to join it won't cancel, don't worry. We also will hire some of the best referees in the world". 🚨
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 19, 2021
Why is there so much uproar about it?
From a non-footballing fan who doesn’t understand the finances of the sport, the outrage surrounding the Super League seems strange. Why are fans outraged over the best teams playing each other every week? Wouldn’t that just mean high quality matches more often?
Well, people can look at it that way, but to be doing that would be only looking at a small corner of the bigger picture.
Let’s use an example put out by an anonymous board member of one of the 12 founding clubs who approached Sky Sports.
If Manchester United had to play Real Madrid on Wednesday in the Super League, but they had a game the Saturday before against Burnley in the Premier League, then why would they field a full-strength team against Burnley?
The Super League will reportedly have a money pot of 3.5 billion euros per season to divide amongst teams. It would be, in a business sense, unwise to use your full-strength team in the Premier League, if the riches of the Super League are much loftier should you advance in that competition.
The English Football Association, UEFA and FIFA amongst a plethora of other global footballing institutions have lashed out at clubs for their commitment to the competition, threatening to ban teams from domestic leagues and continental competitions (other than the Super League) should they participate.
This includes international football, with players potentially not being able to partake in the World Cup and other tournaments should they take part in the Super League.
The scariest thing is however is that the owners of the clubs involved really do not care if they are banned, as the Sky Sports report above describes.
The truth is the ‘Big Six’ in England bring in the lion’s share of money into the league. If they happened to be banned, then it would leave the Premier League in the lurch – not the departing clubs.
Whilst the European Super League teams would be basking in their billions, domestic competitions across Europe would flounder, with the trickle of money which flows down the footballing pyramid in each nation suddenly drying up.
With this, there will be no more fairytales, no more Leicester City 2015/16’s, no more underdog club making the top four and battling it out at Europe’s top level.
If the Super League goes ahead, then the true European top level won’t be attainable for these sides, instead the best players and the best teams will be sectioned off into their own elitist, privileged competition.
If any of the 15 permanent teams has a shocking year in the Super League, it won’t matter as there is no jeopardy. They’ll still take their hundreds of millions of pounds and reinvest.
This is the same in the Premier League. There is no point to compete in the league for these teams if there is no jeopardy.
In reality, they could potentially be relegated from their domestic league and still make staggering money from the Super League.
They will be able to lure the best players away from smaller clubs to bolster their stocks, leaving the selling club without their stars and further reinforcing the cycle of the elite taking from poor.
And the worst part about this flagrant cash-grab by the big clubs is that it isn’t the coaches, it’s not the players, it’s not the fans who have green-flagged this decision.
Players were not consulted and aren't keen. Opinions of the managers that will now be in the spotlight and field questions about the Super League, were not taken into consideration. Club staff don't like it. The overwhelming majority of fans don't want this. It's on the owners
— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) April 19, 2021
In fact, these sections of the club are vehemently opposed to the idea of the Super League.
It’s the owners of the clubs. The suits in the board rooms. The ones whose only goal is to satisfy shareholders and maximise revenues.
And of course it is common knowledge that football is a business nowadays. Fans have made peace with that idea.
However, this is different. It feels as if the clubs involved have been dragged, kicking and screaming by the owners, who the vast majority of fans agree do not speak for the club.
It feels, like ex-Manchester City player Micah Richards said, “they’re taking the soul from (the game).”
Micah Richards: “I know football is a business. But they are taking away the soul from what we believed is the best sport in the world, and they are ripping my heart and soul out of it. It’s a disgrace, it really is.” [sky] pic.twitter.com/OIYmMd0qvj
— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) April 19, 2021
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp spoke out against the supposed league this morning after his side’s 1-1 draw against Leeds United.
MUST WATCH pic.twitter.com/apj3sExTCe
— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) April 19, 2021
With Florentino Perez keen to get the league up and running in August at the start of season 2021/22, there is still a long road to go.
It is hard to imagine the Premier League, UEFA and FIFA pulling out all the legal stops to prevent the Super League coming to fruition, with British PM Boris Johnson also vowing to do everything in his power to stop the motion.
Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.
They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country. (1/2)
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 18, 2021
But even if somehow, the Super League doesn’t come to fruition, the damage caused from even the notion of it will have caused irreparable distrust towards club owners from players, fans and staff alike.
If there never even is a Super League, football still will have changed forever.