What an exhausting 72 hours it’s been. The debate on everyone’s lips has been the proposed European Super League an exciting alternative to the Champions League. This proposal was going to change the face of football forever, alas, the uproar from the footballing community has brought it to a standstill. Over the years, tournaments have constantly evolved; Division 1 turned into the Premier League and the European Cup morphed into the Champions League recently. Evolving is a part of football and change must not always be feared in this manner.
Here’s why the European Super League would have been a good idea.
Guaranteed Income for Europe’s Elite
In a time where the football industry has been hit harder than anybody else, an opportunity to secure guaranteed income could not be sniffed at. Lest we forget, this idea has been in the pipeline for several years, it’s not just a reaction to the pandemic. If the Big 5 plus Spurs secured this revenue stream, they would have had more spending power which would consequently trickle down into the rest of the PL.
A lot of the ESL’s detractors classified this idea as greedy, but I believe if the new format had been given time to develop, we would have seen the qualifying process to enter it. It was initially billed as having 12 founding members with the option to expand to 15 while an additional 5 slots would have been made open to the rest. So, this wasn’t a closed league, there were spaces available to all.
For a team like Arsenal that hasn’t played Champions League in close to 4 years, this was like a golden ticket. This was a reward for their heritage and class in trying to compete against the best with a self-sustaining model. The Gunners have been balancing the books with sales and the support of the fans, this was meant to be their reward. In contrast, the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea have been dominating the league through their oil money. Where’s the fairness in that?
If UEFA’s the answer, then what was the question?
I think the funniest part of this whole saga has been the painting of corporations like UEFA, FIFA, Sky and BT as moral standard-bearers. UEFA and FIFA especially have run riot through the footballing world for decades, offering bribes and certainly receiving them. The likes of Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter have added a new element to the word ‘corruption.’
Look no further than the current preparations for the Qatar World Cup, a tournament that has already cost the lives of thousands of migrant workers. These migrants have been forced to work in slave labour conditions, just to construct brand new stadiums. But you won’t hear FIFA say a word about that, instead, they’re very quick to point fingers at the ‘greed’ of the ESL proposal.
Let’s not even get started on corporations like Sky and BT, these are the same broadcasters that were happy to charge £14.99 for individual games on top of monthly subscriptions amid a global pandemic! Is this what it means to have the best interests of the fans at heart? Sky was also the same company that co-conspired with the ‘Big 5’ to take the top division in England away from the working class to a wealthier global audience for money. Talk about Déjà vu.
This week has been draining emotionally but we must understand that a lot of our anger has been misdirected. Of course, the suggestion of a league where certain members can’t be relegated is absurd and elitist, but I genuinely believe this whole proposal was just used as a bargaining tool to force UEFA’s hand. And they’ve won, UEFA’s new UCL format has brought about more teams, more games, more TV coverage and an additional £4 billion in investment. So did the fans win or did money win, again?