by Sam Stone.
This was inevitable. It was always going to happen in the aftermath of the ‘Project big picture’ failure. It feels as if this is a statement of intent, however, it isn’t. English football will be better off without them.
In a matter of weeks, the startling level of greed embedded within the English game has come visibly to the surface. Yet again, Manchester United and Liverpool have been spearheading their latest attack on the modern game, as we know it. Their most recent onslaught has always been in the pipeline. The whispers of a European Super League emerged after the ‘project big picture’ failure. The two Powerhouses of English football, along with the usual suspects from across the continent, are said to be in discussions over the prospect of a new multi-billion-pound league.Embed from Getty Images
The timing of this proposal, and the money that is being talked about, accurately represents where our ‘beautiful game’ is heading. A matter of weeks has passed since the project big picture proposal. One of the positive aspects of the proposition was the £250 million bailouts, which was destined for the Football League. As the proposal wasn’t successful, the Premier League could suddenly only find £50 million for doomed EFL clubs, which was rightfully rejected. It is remarkable, that those at the top of our game will let clubs of real fans die, whilst they embark on a new £6 billion European Super League. Yes, you’ve read that right, £6 billion.
Clubs are currently on their knees due to the coronavirus pandemic, with gate receipts being a vital source of income and fans currently not being allowed to attend. The timing of this proposal, more than anything, exposes how these breakaway clubs appear to see the pandemic as an opportunity to cement their financial position at the top of the game. The lack of any bailout for smaller clubs along with the proposal shows their intentions. English football is for real fans of clubs in their communities. The biggest clubs in our country would rather have their pockets filled by foreign markets and TV deals.Embed from Getty Images
Unsurprisingly, one of the key elements of the prospective new league is the protection of founding members. If the league is formed, founding members will be exempt from relegation for 20 years. A mechanism to protect themselves and assure they remain amongst the most lucrative sponsorship and broadcast deals. Relegation has become the biggest threat to any of their livelihoods. The cost of falling out of England’s top tier could potentially take their profits from Billions back to millions. They seem to be trying to safeguard their futures. They appear worried about the competitiveness of the Premier League. Leicester winning the league, scoring five against City, Villa tearing champions Liverpool to shreds, and Manchester United conceding six at home. Anyone can beat anyone in the Premier League and this season seems as wide open as any. If United and Liverpool had their way, the Premier League should be contested by the so-called ‘big six’ with the rest of the 14 clubs scrapping it out for relegation. The thought of them getting caught up in the rat race may not sit well with their foreign ownership.Embed from Getty Images
There has been little disclosed about the way new clubs will be able to qualify for the European Super League. However, it is unlikely that it will be able to replace the excitement of a top-four race. The removal of the illusive champions league spots eradicates the competitive edge in the Premier League. Clubs that are safe from relegation but not title challengers will have little to play for.
Unsurprisingly UEFA is not happy with the latest proposal. The European Super League will be a FIFA accredited competition and poses a real threat to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA’s flagship competition. The Champions League has broadcast deals up until 2024, so any new competition being introduced before then will undoubtedly cause huge debate.
Regardless of the likelihood of a new European super league, the Premier League without the scandalous greed of the richest clubs is a rousing prospect. The title race would be wide open to nearly all of the league. The top four finishes would be a realistic goal. The threat of relegation could sneak up on any side. If United and Liverpool (along with the other top clubs who will undoubtedly follow suit) continue their quest to widen the gap between the elite clubs and the rest of the clubs in England, they will inevitably leave the top-flight. An outlook that is one positive for the rest of the Premier League.