World News

European Super League: Say goodbye to the game as you know it

Jude Summerfield
Apr 20, 2021, 1:00 PM GMT+1
Football's been burning for a while now
Football's been burning for a while now / Robert Marquardt/Getty Images

Greed is everywhere in the modern world.

It makes the anti-hero in your favourite TV show, be it Tommy Shelby, Tony Soprano or Walter White, that bit more captivating.

Maybe in the last week or so, if you live in England, it's meant having that fourth pint when three would have been sufficient enough.

In those terms, greed, as Gordon Gekko would say, is good. He's also the type of character who would wholeheartedly agree with the terms of whatever the hell this European Super League is.

The insurmountable greed creeping into football has long been coming, but most fans are romantics. They are still in love with their teams. Before the pandemic, they would pack out the stadiums of the clubs they love, whether they're flying high in the Premier League or scrapping for their lives in League Two. Supporters probably didn't want to acknowledge how their experience of the modern game was being turned from a spiritual one into simply sampling a product, but the clues have been there all along.

Owners with no links to their clubs. Ridiculous fees forked out by broadcasters for TV rights. Extortionate prices for the most basic of club merchandise. The basic experience of matchday being sanitised to such a disgraceful extent.

Ed Woodward, Man Utd's executive vice-chairman / ALEX LIVESEY/Getty Images

We've been on the road to a European Super League for a while now, but it hasn't made the greed of those involved any less shocking, disgusting or nauseating.

Arsenal. Chelsea. Liverpool. Manchester City. Manchester United. Tottenham Hotspur. Inter. Juventus. AC Milan. Atletico Madrid. Barcelona. Real Madrid. Shame on all of these clubs. With an English tint on, shame on those Premier League teams especially.

During a time when fans feel more detached than ever, the formation of a competition that will line the pockets of the rich and leave those towards the bottom of the English football pyramid floundering is sickening. To think that talks for this competition would have been taking place before and during a time when the country's National Health Service is on its knees. Yes, clubs have been happy enough to share all the 'great' work they have done in their respective communities, but somehow these talks have taken place under a cover of darkness until now, where they're receiving universally bad PR. Funny that, eh?

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, also the Super League's first chairman, has claimed European clubs are on their knees and desperately need a new direction to lift them out of the economic mess that they've found themselves in.

You know what might have saved them there? A little bit of frugality. Not living in excess. Not spending around £50m on players like Luka Jovic. Sure, the transfer market's changed, but if they acted with just a smidge of responsibility, perhaps they wouldn't be £1bn in debt.

Clubs like Real have no issue taking exorbitant amounts of cash from TV deals, but fans are the people who have to pay through the nose to get into grounds, or who at one point would have had to pay £15 a pop to watch Burnley vs. Sheffield United.

Somehow, instead of healing the divisions that have started to grow between these 12 clubs and their fans, those in charge have signed up to 23-year deals for a closed league. No promotion, no relegation. And it'll get worse in the future, too.

Fans from Merseyside, Enfield, Manchester, wherever, will have fewer and fewer games to go to when they're instead hosted in China and the United States. That globalisation might be good for some, but it makes the past 100 years and more for each side meaningless. It abandons their history, and history is a massive part of the romanticism of football.

Speaking as a Tottenham fan, the feeling is pure shame and disappointment.

Are they a leading club in Europe? They may have made massive strides off the pitch in recent years with their profile rising, their worth growing and the new stadium impressing many, but right now they wouldn't qualify for the Champions League.

Why? Because they're plainly not good enough, sitting seventh in the Premier League.

And this is a club that wants the divine right to sit at the adults' table and take a massive slice of the pie while other teams outperform them on the pitch? When barely weeks ago they were embarrassingly knocked out of the Europa League? While Leicester and West Ham rightfully sit above them in Champions League qualification places?

Nico Schulz, Serge Gnabry
Maybe we should all start watching the Bundesliga again, eh? / Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images

The meritocracy of football started to wane as soon as the rich could pump billions into the most random of football teams with little to no checks and balances. Football before the European Super League was obviously not perfect. The greed and money in the game is disgusting, but it might have been salvageable.

If these plans go ahead, the whole landscape of the game will change and certainly for the worse. We'll all have to say goodbye to Manchester United and Liverpool by name, and say hello to Manchester Reds FC and Merseysiders FC, with maybe a US city added in there for good measure, depending on where they'll be playing.

Those in charge have lost touch with supporters and if they get their way with this ESL, it'll be the end of the game we know and love as we know it.

For more from Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!