The League That Almost Killed European Football


James Porter-Delgardo, Sports

This is an opinion article piece. James Porter-Delgardo is a sophomore at Mendham who writes for Sports. All opinions expressed in the following editorial are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Patriot.

For the past couple of days, football fans all around the world have been outraged by the recent news over the European Super League. The news hit the sports world so badly that even England’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson put forward an effort to stop it.

The European Super League, an idea manufactured by Florentino Perez, the owner of Real Madrid, was designed to save money for big teams since the pandemic hit the clubs so hard financially. This competition consisted of 12 major teams. English Clubs, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham. Spanish Clubs, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and finally Italian clubs, AC Milan, Juventus, and Inter Milan. These are world-renowned teams. 

Perez was looking to add 3 more permanent members to this league, leaving 5 spots, creating a 20 team format that European clubs could qualify for. Basically trying to make a domestic league, with major teams from around the world that play weekly, with no relegation.

Before the pandemic, things were going swimmingly for football.  The domestic leagues and the Champions League was a really good system that seemed to work, and had worked for a long time. When the pandemic hit, every football club on earth was hit with financial problems. Arsenal couldn’t even pay its mascot. It was obvious that something had to be done for these clubs, so Perez thought it would be a grand idea to create a league of the worlds most popular teams to spread money around the top clubs in the world.  

The only good thing about the Super League would be that it combats UEFA’s monopoly. What UEFA owns in the sport is the Champions League.  The biggest international club competition in the world. Wherein the UEFA Champions League, unlike what the Super League was going to be, you qualify for the championship from your domestic league, with whichever team’s place in the top 3 or top 4 depending on the league, that team has earned their spot in the UCL.

Also, in the Europa League, a subdivision of the UCL, whoever wins the Europa League gets a spot in the UCL in the following year. From there, teams get divided into 8 groups of four. In these groups, two teams will qualify for the knockout stage by getting the most points in the group(winning games). Then as a team progresses into the knockout stages, they have a 2 aggregate fixture against another team, which means two games played at both team’s home stadiums. Starting with the round of 16, going into the round of 8, narrowing down into the round of 4 or semifinals, where the two teams that have made it through each stage will both meet in the final to be crowned king of Europe. 

One can see this UCL format and think how tension, strategy, and tactics all play a really important role to male this championship and it makes it all the more special and competitive when a home team wins or when an upset happens.

Although the Super League wouldn’t have had these aggregate fixtures because the teams would have been playing each other weekly. The Super League would also have been throwing this competition, passion, and love for the game out the window. Since it consisted of 15 permanent members, and 5 other clubs that can qualify for the league. That would’ve destroyed the essence of risk and reward because a permanent team doesn’t have to do all that work to qualify, a permanent team could throw its domestic season out the window and still make it big in the Super League. Also, if a permanent team throws both domestic and Super League seasons out the window, that team won’t face any punishment(relegation) for their horrible season and still make tons of money.

In short, the Super League is a domestic league with no relegation, so basically the MLS in Europe.

It’s easy to see that Perez wanted to save money, he came out saying, “The Major Clubs of England, Spain, and Italy have to find a solution to the bad situation that football is experiencing. Real Madrid alone lost 400 million Euros. The Super League will save clubs financially”. He also said, “The Super League will generate more money. It’s more attractive. Manchester United vs Barcelona will be more attractive than Man United vs a smaller team”.

What Perez failed to understand when creating this league is the fan point of view other than the money point of view. What makes a fixture like Manchester United vs. Barcelona so special is because they meet once a year in the Champions League. Fans from both teams dedicate time to watch their teams battle it out on the pitch. It’s like if the world cup was every year instead of every 4 years, it wouldn’t be special or magical in any way, it would just be any other international event.

Perez had some comments regarding the UEFA Champions League, Perez told the press, “The new champions league format will not save football. I don’t understand it, it won’t help anyone. UEFA has a monopoly. What we’re trying to do is save football”. This is one of the only times where Perez makes a good case for the Super League, UEFA does have a monopoly and that needs to be fixed, but the big clubs of Europe shouldn’t combat that by making a league where it takes no work to get into the competition, no relegation or punishment if you have a terrible season, and competition with no competitive nature whatsoever.

The major teams that were in the Super League consist of the worlds favorite players, Messi, Ronaldo, De Bruyne, fans wouldn’t have been allowed to see them anywhere else, and it would be even worse for the players since they are basically being ‘gate-keeped’ by a bunch of billionaires.  

This is because of UEFA, their president Alexander Ceferin told the press, “Players that will play in the Super League will be banned from the Euros and World Cup”. Fabrizio Romano, reporter on sky sports transfers, and a ‘The Guardian’ reporter, said that, “UEFA position: no domestic leagues, no Champions League/Europa League, no World Cup/European Competitions”.  UEFA made these aggressive actions in order to combat the Super League and keep UEFA as the monopoly superpower.

This wouldn’t be saving football as Perez said, it’s more like giving it a high five than shooting it in the leg. Since none of the best players in the world would be able to play in international competitions, the world cup would’ve been in shambles. Teams that you would expect to be knocked out of the WC easily would have a chance to win, sub-par teams like, USA, Mexico, and Denmark would likely be contenders for the World Trophy if the Super League happened.

It’s also the fact that this league would’ve made the traditional competitions less interesting. Domestic cups and the UCL won’t be as interesting when the major teams like Barca, Liverpool, and Manchester United don’t participate in them. Because those are the teams that most football fans support.

As of April 20th, due to fan pressure and riots in the streets in England, all teams that were involved in the Super League have withdrawn – subsiding the competition entirely. This show’s how much power the people hold.

The Super League would destroy football with greed, Football is a game that was built by locals, workers, citizens, and fans that has developed into a beautiful game. What a shame on all the owners that chose to take part in this league just because it would save them money, this game was built by the fans for the fans. Gary Neville, former right-back for Manchester United said, “Liverpool they pretend you’ll never walk alone, the people the fans club, Manchester United, 100 years born out of workers around here(Manchester) and they’re breaking away into a league without competition that they can’t be relegated from, it’s an absolute disgrace”.

It is a disgrace that the Super League was even an idea, it shows how much the rich run the sport right now, how much the rich run sports in general. UEFA has a monopoly,  so a second competitive league is a good idea, but the Super League is not the answer. But at the end of the day, it’s all about money for both sides, that’s why UEFA was pulling players’ rights to play for international teams and teams to play domestically, that’s also why all teams would’ve got a huge pay increase when they joined the super league. The whole system of it is atrocious, the beautiful game that was built by the poor, shouldn’t be stolen by the rich.