By now you must have heard or read about the European Super League – the proposed new competition that is causing excitement and uproar in equal measure.
Photo via AFP
But just what is this new tournament? And why do fans and pundits have such strong emotions about it?
We’ll try to break it down as simply as possible, so read on…
What is the European Super League?
Photo via Reuters
It is a proposed new closed tournament comprising 12 of Europe’s biggest football clubs.
It involves the Premier League’s Big Six, namely Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham… as well as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Aletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus.
They will all no longer feature in the Champions League, opting instead for their own closed-format event, with matches to be played in midweek.
Places will eventually be opened up to eight other ‘invited’ teams, but the 12 ‘Founding Clubs’ will be guaranteed their place in the competition every year, regardless of their performance.
Sounds like an interesting idea so far…
On the surface, yes.
Super League organisers are touting it as a better alternative to the Champions League...and they do appear to make a solid argument.
Wouldn’t you rather watch Juventus vs Man City or Real Madrid vs Liverpool in the Super League…compared to Galatasaray vs Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League? (No offence to Galatasaray and Shakhtar fans)
So what are people complaining about?
Fans are mainly upset that the Super League is a closed competition…a sort of ‘private members group’ where the wealthiest clubs play among themselves.
Supporters groups, former players and pundits say this is a money-grabbing move that destroys open competition… and that, too is a fair point.
For example…clubs currently have to earn their place in the Champions League. Do well in their domestic leagues, and they get into Europe on merit.
It is a simple system that rewards consistent quality and offers an equal opportunity for any club to play among Europe’s elite.
With the Super League, however, the 12 founding teams will never lose their spot …even if they finish bottom of their domestic competitions.
One could say that these clubs feel they are worthy of a place based on their name and brand alone …not their performance on the pitch.
So much for fairness and sportsmanship, then.
There’s also the issue of money.
Clubs rely on lucrative earnings from the Champions League to help fund their operations. This is especially so for smaller clubs, who don’t have the benefit of global branding and merchandising deals that the more popular clubs enjoy.
But now the Super League will take viewers and sponsors away from the Champions League…leaving less money to go around for the remaining clubs…many of whom have worked hard to earn their entry into Europe.
What has the fallout been like?
Photo via Reuters
UEFA and FIFA are not happy. The two football governing bodies have since threatened to expel Super League clubs from the remainder of this season’s Champions League and Europa League.
They are also warning of an international ban on players who feature in the Super League.
This could mean that the likes of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo, Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Man United’s Paul Pogba could all be barred from playing in the Euros and World Cup.
There is also talk that Super League clubs could be kicked out of their domestic leagues.
The 14 remaining EPL clubs (besides the Big Six) are reportedly already planning an emergency meeting to discuss the latest developments.
And according to UK…there are provisions in the Premier League rulebook to support kicking out clubs that compete in unsanctioned competitions.
Supporters groups have also been very vocal about their opposition to the Super League.
Some have removed flags and banners from their home stadiums, while others are planning protests at grounds across the UK.
So, what’s the final verdict?
Unfortunately, there is none. Not yet, at least.
While we know that the 12 European clubs are going ahead with the Super League, it is still unclear when they plan to start or how they plan on pulling it off.
Until these details are made clear, we also won’t know what legal recourse is open to UEFA, FIFA and the respective domestic leagues.
What is certain, though, is the announcement has rocked football to its core, and could potentially lead to one of the biggest shakeups the sport has seen in recent decades.
By: Nicholas Darren John