Tuesday April 20 2021
Super League clubs don’t care about the old fans

Richard Hall imagines Super League matches played in USA or China and explains why the 12 clubs are not too worried about their fans’ protests.

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.



Have your say...
@Vero Rossonero: So Champions League generates 7 billion .....3.5 billion get shared to 32 teams .....700 mill to run the tournament and 2.8 mill UEFA pockets and nobody in this forum can see the forest from the trees ......why does UEFA make that kind of money ? you don't want to give it to the teams that's fine BUT give it back to us fans to make it cheaper to watch soccer, take my family to a game, make it easier to afford ESPN .... you get what i am hinting at now ?
on the 23rd April, 2021 at 9:01pm
@Maldini’s Heir Gazidis is a snake & should walk. If he stays he must have less power - purely commercial director not ceo. His handling of the ESL has been poor. He gave announcement on Monday saying ESL was good when it’s bad. Elliot cannot be trusted. But no one will invest unless it’s to make money. The market is going to burst. New champions league is more games -crazy - calendar is already full. Players can’t play every 3 days. Impossible to train. Quality of games will suffer naturally.
on the 23rd April, 2021 at 12:43pm
@Maldini’s we decided to keep Calabria which turned out to be a good decision but mostly it was down to him, he improved his performances. Cutrone is not world class. It was right to sell him. He has struggled since he left. And he is mid table player at best. Locatelli also had a tough time not getting minutes. We chose to sell. But his performances stagnated. Maybe he should have went on loan. But he’s no Kessie/Bennacer. There is a bigger debate. Modern game does not allow luxury of time.
on the 23rd April, 2021 at 12:33pm
@Maldini's Heir
Absolutely BEAUTIFUL post, man; It's really touching.

Clubs nowdays don't want Tottis, Del Pieros, Maldinis to stay... --They want to SWAP them every 2-3 years to sell shirts & get the fans who follow these superstars. Transfers in SL would be even bigger & more often!

(I could care less for R. Madrid's financial problems of getting another "galactico" to please their zombie fans from abroad. --Spoiled brats don't want to wear a player's name if he didn't cost at least 60mil !)
on the 23rd April, 2021 at 5:12am
This guy, Vero Rossonero, is unreal. Every post of his is always good enough to be framed. Forget about taking any players from Milan, --I want VERO for Roma! He always gives great addition to blogs & tries to help some "idiots" (,right NICK?,) to gain some moral values.
Milan fans, you don't appreciate what you have... Maldini's Heir also gives you so much cool stuff to read!

Vero, your cancer analogy is great.
I'd also add Bayern as an exceptionally well led club.
on the 23rd April, 2021 at 5:10am
(Cont'd) What's to stop Messi to ask for 200m per year once the ESL clubs start making all that money? Raiola will be asking for 100m agent fees. If clubs can't operate within a budget at current levels, why would they when the levels go up? So will expenditures. Covid was just the stick that broke the Camel's back. The debt storm has been building for decades. Instead, perhaps we should be taking a look at precisely how clubs are financed into these debt positions.
on the 22nd April, 2021 at 6:25pm
@Nick, your team is losing money, because it's poorly run. That's not UEFA's, FIFA's. Lega's, FIGC's fault, Olympic Committee's fault, or whomever. Tell me why then is a club like Atalanta playing better than almost every club in Serie A save Inter, and was able to reach a CL semi-final while having a balanced budget no crazy transfers? And not only have they accomplished this, but they've done it in style. nobody put a gun to Barcelona's head and forced them to pay Messi 100m per year. Cont'd..
on the 22nd April, 2021 at 6:14pm
@Daniel: FIFA+UEFA=SAME2ME! Who is a Bigger Bully than UEFA ? Maybe FIFA but let me tell you something, when you have been "bullied" and that is not to be mistaken with "bully"... you fight back and that is what the teams with any balls are doing.
I don't see what they can do to ever appease these self-entitled owners?? UEFA PICKED 2.8 Billion Dollars and WE the fans, NOT the owners pay for it !! YES, WE THE FANS! I never want to hear the phrase "self-entitled" unless you are describing UEFA
on the 22nd April, 2021 at 6:11pm
Money talks, but greed talks louder. These owners are solely thinking about filling their pockets, as if they need more. Get the higher TV/broadcast rights, pass the costs onto consumers, hook them into betting since you can't watch a game without getting flooded with betting ads, and damn the local fans since seat prices have to increase to pay the exorbitant salaries, which must go higher since agents will argue the club is getting more revenue (also going into debt). Such a vicious cycle.
on the 22nd April, 2021 at 5:52pm

The person awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup is FIFA, not UEFA. Get your facts right, before labelling anyone an idiot.

UEFA have their own flaws, sure (who doesn't?) but they are bullied worse and worse each year by these self-entitled "big clubs". I don't see what they can do to ever appease these self-entitled owners, so we have a radical overhaul of European football.

American venture capitalists, Arab despots, Chinese CCP cronies, Russian oligarchs must be banned.

50+1 rule now.
on the 22nd April, 2021 at 12:13am
Everyone that is arguing against this is an Idiot....teams are losing money during this pandemic and UEFA is set to make 2.8 billion off of CL alone.... 12 owners found a way to take the money UEFA screws us the fans out of and give it to the teams and you people think it's to cut the little guy ? this is a battle that needs to be fought .....Let UEFA spread their Billions to help the sport because their greed is suffocating the game and allowing people to die for their personal gain AKA Qatar
on the 21st April, 2021 at 8:36pm
(Cont'd) Regardless, the problem is capitalism, and last time I checked that was a European invention. See Adam Smith, see Dutch East India Company. Sorry for the diatribe, but it's not fair to blanket blame "Americans" for everything.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 7:46pm
(Cond't) Those local European clubs evolved over time into semi-pro and then pro "clubs". Those in the largest cities eventually gained an advantage because they had the largest market. In the early days ticket sales were basically the biggest revenue source. Look at the list of ESL names, all big cities. That advantage was leveraged over the decades into almost unassailable moats. U.S. sports simply shortcutted the process and established themselves in the largest markets from the start. Cont'd
on the 21st April, 2021 at 7:41pm
Finally, for people for some reason criticizing the USA for this: 1. Football was broken in the 90s by the formation of the CL by the Murdochs, who are Australian/British; 2. Then further ruined by the dumping of 1bn Euro into the EPL with that first crazy deal in the 00s by...the Murdochs. 3. USA sports leagues were mostly formed as professional leagues almost from the beginning, not as "clubs" in which locals could have a kick around after work. Cont'd...
on the 21st April, 2021 at 7:37pm
Also, if salaries are a problem then leagues should consider a formula for salary caps. Perhaps as a fixed % of turnover. But then people will say "how can a team reach of a higher objective if they don't take on risk"? I don't know, but you can't have your cake and eat it too. Perhaps bankruptcy laws should be loosened to allow clubs to fold more easily. Perhaps this will make them pay more compliant. How is a club like Madrid permitted to get 1bn Euro into debt? Ludicrous.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 7:31pm
I read a quote from Marotta complaining about the percentage of turnover that is consumed by salaries as one of reasons for this. I couldn't help but get incensed by this. A. For salaries to keep going up you have to be willing to pay the requested increases. B. Ban agents. C. Do you think players won't ask for MORE money after you start getting your 300m per year from the ESL? So dumb. Just let the player walk if you can't afford their salary.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 7:27pm
For those saying "so what, football has been long dead" I ask, then why are you still a fan? Why do you watch or go to the games? Obviously football is not dead. Milan ultras' statement is 100% correct, but it would have been much worse with the ESL. To use a cancer analogy (perhaps a poor analogy, but anyway), football has the equivalent of Stage 2 cancer. The ESL is stage 3. Are you saying it doesn't matter if your cancer goes to stage 3 because you already have stage 2? That's really stupid.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 7:22pm
@Ravanelli- Uh, why would any distributors pay anything for domestic league or CL rights if those competitions are diminished because the "big" teams are gone, banned or don't care? Everyone outside of the ESL would whither on the vine. Think things are financially precarious now? Wait until the ESL is sucking up all the TV and sponsorship money.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 7:18pm
Maldini’s Heir - GREAT analysis of the increasing lack of connect.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 3:23pm
Let's not pretend that ESL is what has killed football. Champions league killed the European Cup, Premier League chose money over fans and has done so every year since with the continuous price hike to watch football (tickets, rising PPV costs). Money hungry agents pushing up player salaries when they literally don't need the money. VAR being used for millimetre offsides but not for blatant fouls or handballs. Football is on life support, this was simply the straw that broke the camel's back.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 10:12am
Gianni Agnelli would have turned in his grave - juventus are an embarrassment to Italy
on the 21st April, 2021 at 9:23am
You want to make football popular again, make it special. And endless derbies d'italia is not making anything special. It’s further killing the magic. Christmas is special because it comes once a year. You want special you build a connection, a real connection, between the players, the clubs and the fans. The sort of connection that Calabria, Locatelli and Cutrone had. Something real. Not this superficial bull.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 8:41am
This is what we sold. We sold Locatelli’s tears when he scored his first goal. We sold the passion and drive of Cutrone. Calabria has had to perform like a super star to hang in. And you know that at the first dip of form or bid he’ll be gone too. For what? To be replaced by an endless stream of temporary signings. In a nutshell that is the issue with modern football. Add in the vast amounts of saturation caused by oversubscribed European competitions and no wonder kids have no interest.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 8:37am
It only lasted a few days but the FALLOUT will last for years to come. It shows how detached these owners are when it comes to football. They wanted to put UEFA and FIFA in a hostage situation by secretly demanding better terms but in the end they DIRECTLY attacked football itself. It's time for these owners to leave football alone and they can go invest in something else maybe NBA or something. I'm sure they can find something in their dark little rich people group meeting and leave football.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 8:33am
Cutrone himself also posted his farewell to Milan and its fans.

“I wanted to tell you so many things, but I don’t know where to start… Dear Milan, that’s what it’s like.

“You welcomed me at the age of eight, I was a child who dreamed of scoring a goal at San Siro. Now I have grown up, as a player and a man. Rossonero, on the field and in life. An immense honour.

“Thank you so much to everyone: the staff, my teammates. And a huge embrace for my fans. You will always be in my heart: you made me feel loved in every moment.

“For me, leaving a positive memory in your hearts is the greatest victory. I wish the best to the club that I love, my teammates and you fans! With all of my heart, which is red and black, Patrick. Forza MILAN.”
on the 21st April, 2021 at 8:32am
Calabria also sent a message to Cutrone via Instagram. “It’ll be strange, so very strange, after all these years not to be in the same dressing room, wearing the same shirt, not having you constantly under my feet at Milanello. But that is football. That is life. “You already know everything I think and what you need to do. It won’t be easy, but with your grit, you’ll manage it. I wish you the best, my friend, I will miss you.”
on the 21st April, 2021 at 8:32am
“Brother, I still can’t believe it, but this is the harsh reality,” wrote Locatelli on Instagram. “From kids making their debuts to the senior squad, a story we can tell to children who are chasing the same dreams we had. That dream that after eight years we could look each other in the eye and say, we did it. You were the perfect incarnation of what it means to be Milan. I wish you the best, because you deserve it. Life forces us to make choices and we have to take them. I hope for you that this is the right path. I am convinced that with your determination and hunger, you’ll give your all and prove yourself in England too.

“Distance can never be a problem for us, and we’ve already proved that. I can only say that I’ll always be here for you. All the best, my brother.”
on the 21st April, 2021 at 8:30am
these days don’t know what it’s like to see the same players playing for their clubs for decades. For 21 years Maldini was a constant for me and many Milan fans. We’ll never have that again. And that chopping and changing creates the mercenaries and kills all connection between the players and the club. Look at the comments that Calabria, Locatelli and Cutrone made when the latter was, inexplicably, sold by Maldini of all people.
on the 21st April, 2021 at 8:29am
This crisis of appeal that Agnelli is talking about was caused by people like him. It doesn’t surprise me 10% of fans follow players not clubs. I nearly fo the same. Every player I ever got close to at Milan was sold. Clubs have lost all identity because they don’t hold onto players for more than 5 minutes. What is a football club if not the players? They’re the ones we watch every week. So when you change them every year there’s no point supporting the club. It’s just an empty brand. Kids
on the 21st April, 2021 at 8:24am
It is NOT a sport hence a competition if you don't risk relegation. Then it is pure entertainment, like they have it in USA and who in their right mind want that?? 
on the 21st April, 2021 at 7:25am

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