A little more than a year after European football found a new sense of unity in the face of the coronovirus epidemic, the sport now faces its greatest crisis in a generation.
Late on Sunday night, 12 of the world’s largest football clubs revealed plans to launch a launch competition called the Super League, in which they (and their invited guests) would compete against each other, while billions of dollars of football. Will be claimed even more. In revenue for himself.
The announcement not only doubted the ongoing viability of the Champions League – the sport’s showpiece club competition – but also asked about the future of domestic leagues, which have been the cornerstone of football for more than a century.
Suddenly, it is unclear where the football is growing, or what it will look like when it gets there. Here, then, what we know so far.
First things first: What is a Super League?
The concept has been around for decades: a continental competition that annually includes the most well-known names in the domestic leagues of Europe. For a long time, it is effectively something between aspiration and danger. Sunday night, however, was the first time anyone had materialized it.
Who gets to play in it?
So far, there are 12 founding members. The teams that are the driving force behind the project – Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool and Juventus – have invited eight other clubs to join them: Barcelona and Atletico Madrid from Spain, Inter Milan and AC Milan from Italy and the rest . The Premier League’s self-proclaimed Big Six: Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal.
They hope to be joined soon by three more permanent members, although it is not yet clear why those teams have disclosed their participation. Paris Saint-Germain and Portuguese giants FC Porto were seen as potential candidates in France, but both distanced themselves from the project. Organizer Bayern Munich, the reigning European champions and one of the world’s biggest clubs, looks forward to the team, but on Monday the president of Borussia Dortmund said that not only was his team out, but also Bayern agreed with his position.
Whatever the final roster, those 15 founding teams will form the basis of the league. The full allocation of 20 clubs each season will be done by a rotating cast of five other teams, selected through some sort of formula that the organizers have yet to decide.
Which sounds like the Champions League.
it is reasonable. But the roster for the Champions League is determined each year based on the performance of the clubs in their domestic league. The Super League will have permanent members who do not risk losing any of the matches or profits.
How will it work?
The 20 teams will be divided into two divisions – 10 teams each – and then play each other out-of-home. At the end of the regular season, the top four clubs in each division will progress to the knockout round, familiar to Champions League spectators. The difference is that at the end of the season those playoffs will be held over the course of four weeks.
Is it about money?
Yes. By its own estimate, each founding member leverages $ 400 million only to establish a “secure financial foundation”, four times more than Bayern Munich to win the Champions League last season.
But this is just the beginning, really: The clubs believe that selling the broadcast rights to the Super League, as well as commercial income, would be worth billions. And all of this will go to them, rather than being redistributed to smaller clubs and lesser leagues through UEFA, the governing body of European football. At the same time, the value of domestic leagues and their clubs will be greatly reduced as they also effectively provide ranks every year.
Won’t Super League teams fight with that money?
The founding members have decided that spending on transfer fees and wages would have overshadowed a certain percentage of revenue, which – theoretically at least – allowed owners to restrict their spending at the same time to maximize their income. Gives more chance of
Sounds good for those clubs. Should their fans be happy?
Not so much, no. The response has been one of scattered anger over the betrayal of the tradition. It does not help, although several clubs have issued statements that they will consult with fan groups as the project develops, no one thought that ahead of time.
However, it is difficult to ascertain how universal the feeling of resentment and betrayal is. There is little evidence – although it is hardly heavy – one Demographic breakdown in response For consideration, and it may be that this is what clubs are banking on: older fans may be more Devotion to tradition, And smaller ones can be won more easily.
Can I join my club?
Not necessary. It could probably do well enough in its domestic league to win one out of five guest spots in each guest in the Super League, although every year the 53 teams winning Europe’s home championships would be reduced to five. thin.
But even then, the odds would be stacked against them: Permanent members would have access to the competition’s commercial revenue, giving them substantial financial leverage against all the rest.
Why is this happening now?
The simple answer to this is that the epidemic has cost all clubs in Europe, including a handful of particularly wealthy oligarchs – with revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars. The Super League is designed to offset, to some extent.
But the idea has been around for some time, and it has been gaining strength over the last five years. There are a number of factors behind this, including the financial primacy of the Premier League and the arrival of American owners into a game that appears to be a plateau on the sale of television rights to domestic leagues. There is also a growing recognition that, since large clubs drive a larger share of revenue, they should get an even larger share.
Can anyone stop this?
that remains to be seen. UEFA, together with various affected national leagues and associations, vows to use any available measures to prevent “cynicism”. This could mean throwing clubs out of domestic leagues, preventing their players from representing their countries.
On Monday, the president of UEFA, Alexander Seferin, appeared ready for a scorched-earth battle when he called the renegade clubs “snakes and liars”. But he also thought that if he gave up schemes based on greed, selfishness and parochialism, he would leave the door open for him to come back.
All options at his disposal – and the league ‘- are, however, a risk. It makes sense to exclude the biggest clubs in football from the domestic league: after all, allowing them to play will not only financially distort the competition – they already have deep pockets; This would effectively give him an extra pair of trousers – but also in sports sense. Why would they field full-strength teams? Will the championship make any sense?
But doing so would only make the bulk of the chances more likely, which, in turn, would outstrip the domestic leagues that are less attractive. For example, television rights to the Premier League stripped of Manchester United and Liverpool are now unlikely to be of much value. La Liga rights without Real Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona are another matter entirely.
It is possible that FIFA will step in, and issue final approval on players participating in the Super League: prohibiting players from representing their countries at the World Cup. However, this also cannot be decisive, given that they can earn in the Super League.
More likely is the intervention of the various national governments, or possibly the European Union – although the basis on which they would object is not entirely clear – or is exhausted until the final legal recourse through various courts.
Is this a situation where the only winners are lawyers?
not enough. The big clubs clearly believe that the chance to not only increase their income but to control their spending is also worth it. He strongly believes that this is a chance to give fans what they want that they should not be rejected outright. It is hardly irrational to assume that regular sports among some of the game’s best-known names will attract viewers.
But there are people elsewhere who lose, right?
Yes. To some distance. UEFA now faces the possibility of devaluation of its showpiece competition. The National League will be rendered largely irrelevant, and even helpless by those who understand the national associations – the people who actually run the football.
But others will suffer more: clubs that have been excluded, certainly, and will now see a decline in their values and incomes. But they will not only be deprived of appeal and audience, but also hope; The minor leagues of Europe, cast in shadow yet; Even players, who can ascertain their negotiating positions on salaries, are weakened by the ability of superbubs to cap wages.
Above all, it would explode the idea that anyone could, in theory, rise and fall on their own playability. This may not be true in any sense, and its absence may not retract the major leagues in North America, but it is central to football’s identity and mythology.
now what happened?
As things stand, there is nothing. A long, legally legal quarrel seems inevitable. Golmaal clubs have already filed papers designed to protect their interests and their plans.
So is this going to happen?
It is difficult to answer with any degree of certainty. There is still a suite of barriers between here and there. And, crucially, it’s hard to see how clubs can return at this point: this is no verge, as previous suggestions from the Super League have been to get more control or more funding from UEFA.
They have invested too much capital in the project in the last 24 hours, even to go back. A couple of the founding clubs – mainly Barcelona and Real Madrid, both in theory owned by their members – may yet have an internal power struggle to win, but it would be surprising if it did not take them into consideration.
Absent of teams from France and Germany, including PSG and Bayern Munich, UEFA has some hope that it may deprive the new league of starting legitimacy. And it is possible that the furious response will give some teams pause for consideration: for example, stating that none of the plan’s key architects have yet come to defend it.
There is another test, of course: what happens if it launches and doesn’t work, or at least doesn’t work in the way teams work? What if there are limits to loyalty of fantasy? They are certainly banking on the matter, but they do not know for sure.