Something is scary about the European Super League: the methodical ruthlessness and calmness of the members. This looks well planned, and its announcement was executed to show how little they care about the consequences, including the possibility of being kicked out of this season’s European competitions.
They have a monumental backer, they are ready for the courts and it feels like they have ambushed football and are prepared to blitzkrieg the existing structure. There is an inevitable feeling that nobody can stop them. Casumo Betting would make surely make it odds-on the Super League comes to fruition.
Imagine this. The year is 2027, Real Madrid have just beaten Juventus to the European Super League title for the third year running, in fact the top four have been the same this whole time.
The games are being played in China and the US, and Europe, as the product has now developed. The clubs do not mind the travel as their reserve teams are now so healthy, they can compete for domestic honours on their own. The Champions League acts as the Europa League and the Europa League is the sick competition of Europe.
The pundits and ex-footballers who denounced it now work in flash, well-groomed studios and the fans are back (mostly). What is more, there is a new generation of fans growing up who only know this structure and devour most of their football on apps and 15-second highlight reels.
Of current footballers who spoke out against, some have joined these elite clubs and pretty much everyone involved in football has returned to standard duty. A few hardcore fans do not seem to care anymore, but that’s it. There are no protest scarves now, and the world has simply accepted this gross overhaul of football.
Perhaps this is a grim and bleak look at the world, so apologies if so but it has happened before. It has never happened to this level, but I am sure if you asked supporters of Steaua Bucharest or Red Star Belgrade, they would not look kindly on how the Champions League obliterated any chances they have of European glory.
Look to England. Back in 1991, 12 clubs, including the ‘The big five’, want to form a breakaway league. The Football League can do nothing, and England is appalled as Rupert Murdoch is accused of ruining football. Perhaps the key difference is the Premiership – as it originally was – didn’t attempt to make their breakaway league a closed shop. Promotion and relegation was always part of it.
Regardless, it certainly changed the face of the game and with Alan Sugar and Amstrad making as many Sky dishes as he could the footballing world in the UK and in some ways Europe, changed.
People at the time lamented it was all about money and the big clubs would get bigger and the rest would be left behind. This was true and it happened but the UK’s slick (if not soulless) product was catapulted to be seen as ‘the best’ (well, richest) league in the world.
After time, people forgot and it is many of those same people who talk about it now in glowing terms. It is a sad fact of life, not just football, that money talks. It is not right, but it is how it is.
Can anything be done? Many wish those fan movements could talk with their feet, but they will only be replaced by a new type of fan, which, ironically, is what the owners of these clubs want. Other than season ticket holders, the clubs (not just the Super League elite) do not want fans who simply turn up every week. They want the fan who comes once or twice a year, from abroad, so the trip is memorable. They want them to make it an event, buy the expensive food, drinks and programmes and splash out in the club shops. It is sad that a tournament like this will attract people. End of story, the stadiums will never be empty.
Perhaps UEFA will try to oust these teams from European competition, but that may be just what they want. It would weaken the Champions League brand and is inevitable anyway. What about domestic expulsion? This is also unlikely as imagine telling DAZN that their recent purchase of Serie A’s TV rights now does not have Juventus, Inter and Milan in the package. It does not make sense.
Some hopes somehow this gets blocked, but there is a feeling of inevitability floating around. The choice of ‘hipster fixtures’ will increase as more teams become thrown down the food chain. In all seriousness, it is the fans who will be the ones to suffer in the short term, but it will be interesting how this all looks in 10 years’ time.