You saw it all over social media on Sunday evening as words including “disgraceful,” “greedy” and “disgusting” trended across football Twitter. It is pretty clear this is not a completely unpopular opinion, but I think it needs to be said as much as possible.
The decision to form a European Super League is just dumb.
It’s bad for competition, it’s bad for fans and it could even be bad for players as the possible long-term side effects could ruin careers and clubs as a whole. The decision certainly does not come as a surprise because we know how much rich club owners love their money, and while the line on some of the decisions should be drawn much sooner, taking down the game just to make an extra buck should be an easy no.
The current system may not be perfect and we certainly know the current governing bodies aren’t anywhere close to perfect, but I have no idea how someone thought this would be the right solution for club football in Europe.
And do you know how bad an idea has to be to get fans on the side of FIFA and UEFA? Because I didn’t even know it was possible to see this much support behind those federations.
I won’t dive too much into the details of the league’s formation because there’s no doubt you already know about it if you’re reading this. You can find in-depth info here. So instead, I want to run through just some of the many reasons why this money grab could have a negative effect on the sport we all love.
The first is the most obvious and could be the most detrimental as parity among some of the top leagues in Europe continues to dwindle. I hate a lot of the negative talk around Serie A as much as the rest of you, but even with Juventus currently sitting in fourth, we cannot pretend the league is as competitive as it should be from top to bottom. And that’s a growing theme among all of the top leagues in Europe.
If you take the 15 teams committed to the ESL — 12 confirmed and three more expected soon — off the list of domestic league champions, it’s hard to find many among the remaining clubs.
In Italy, there has not been a league champion outside of the three clubs joining the Super League since 2001 when Roma claimed the title. A season hasn’t happened in Spain without Barcelona, Atletico or Real Madrid winning since 2002 (Valencia) and Dortmund is the only other club to win in Germany since 2010.
And yes, English fans, this is even affecting your league, too. There have been plenty of jokes made about where the teams currently sit in the table (Sorry Arsenal fans) and even more about clubs without silverware joining a super league (Sorry Spurs fans), but when you put the jokes aside, even England can’t escape the lack of parity among league champions.
Since 1995, there has been just one non-big six club (Leicester City) to sit atop the Premier League at the end of the season. Leicester is also the only non-big six club to finish in the top two since 2000.
And we haven’t even mentioned Porto, which has basically been in a three-club league for nearly two decades.
The biggest point here is that all of those teams racking up league titles across Europe would be the only ones to financially benefit from this Super League format. That would in turn lead to them buying up more talent, paying out bigger contracts and reeling in better managers, leaving smaller clubs fighting for even less scraps than exist currently.
Sure, this could open up more spots for those clubs in other European competitions if UEFA can keep both the Champions League and Europa League afloat, but those would quickly lose flavor for many casual fans. So, instead of being the biggest money grab, those competitions begin to bleed money, leaving those clubs in the dark yet again.
And while the negative side effects can clearly be seen for the smaller teams in those bigger leagues, it will also be felt by the bigger teams in the smaller leagues. You won’t get to see Shakhtar Donetsk win a five-goal thriller in Madrid or see a wild crowd in Krasnodar host a club as big as Chelsea. How else will we see Mislav Orsic destroy Tottenham’s defense? (Sorry again, Spurs fans)
You also lose the moments that everybody claims to love on social media when legends at small clubs get to swap jerseys with the Lionel Messi’s and Robert Lewandowski’s of the world after a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play against greats.
Those moments are not just huge for those clubs and their fans but it also helps grow the game. I certainly stick to the leagues that I can religiously watch from my couch in Alabama, but my list of players, clubs and competitions followed on my OneFootball app just constantly grows because of performances I have seen in European competition. And I know I can’t be the only one like that.
And while we’re on the players, we have to understand that this league will only benefit a select few and it likely will not even be anything too substantial. There may be some pay raises here or there but sponsorship money likely won’t grow too much and a season could be even more taxing with a more difficult competition added to the schedule. Not to mention the possibility of being banned from international competition if FIFA follows through with its threats.
There are likely a lot more details to be released in the following days and probably even more hurdles to clear in coming weeks if this league wants to take place as soon as next season. But with what we know now, it’s obvious this is nothing more than the rich trying to become richer at the expense of everyone else. And I know sport cannot happen without money but when it comes at the expense of the game (among other things), something needs to be said.
So while I can type out all of my frustrations out until my fingers hurt, I’ll leave you with someone else’s words that may sum it up best.
“It’s an absolute disgrace,” former Manchester United star Gary Neville said in his rant that went viral on Sunday. “We have to wrestle back power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league — and that includes my club … It’s pure greed, they’re impostors … Time has come now to have independent regulators to stop these clubs from having the power base. Enough is enough.”