By Norman Isaac Mwambazi
Over the weekend on Sunday, April 18, 2021, the 12 biggest football clubs in the world revealed advanced plans of breaking away from Europe’s elite club competition – The Champions League – and form the European Super League.
The revelation has since raised a big storm among football fans, footballers, commentators, small clubs, football associations, European football governing body UEFA, and its counterparts Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), citing greed, breaking away from tradition and loyalty to fans, and being inconsiderate for the greater good of the beautiful game.
What is Super League and who plays in it?
This Super League has been described by its proponents as a continental club competition amongst Europe’s biggest clubs. The idea of the formation of such a league has been in the works for over a decade, and by the look of things, the idea is in advanced stages of fruition.
So far, there are 12 founding members from three countries. It is understood that Spanish giants Real Madrid, English rivals Manchester United and Liverpool put aside their long-time rivalry, and Italian giants Juventus have all been the driving force behind the project.
Eight other elite clubs including Barcelona and Atlético Madrid from Spain, Inter Milan and A.C. Milan from Italy, and Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Arsenal who complete the Premier League’s Big Six were invited to join the project.
Three more clubs are expected to be invited for this league to make 15 clubs that will be permanent members of the Super League. Portuguese side FC Porto, French outfit PSG and German giants Bayern Munich are the three clubs rumoured to soon join the league, although none of them has commented on the matter yet.
The full allotment of 20 clubs each season will be fleshed out by a rotating cast of five more teams, chosen through some sort of formula that the organizers haven’t gotten around to deciding just yet.
How will it work?
The 20 teams will be split into two groups with 10 clubs each, which will play one another home-and-away. At the end of the regular season, the top four clubs in each division will progress to a knockout round which will be held over the course of four weeks at the end of the season.
The idea of the architects of the Super League is such that these clubs play in the middle of the week just like Champions League and Europa League matches have been played and then keep participating in their domestic leagues but due to strong opposition from UEFA and FIFA and it is believed national football associations would follow suit, these clubs might be kicked out of their domestic leagues.
UEFA and FIFA have even hinted at the possibility of forbidding players who play in the Super League from representing their countries in continental and international tournaments. Yes, the opposition is that strong and serious.
Is it about money?
Absolutely. This is why clubs involved have been labelled as being greedy. With American investment bank JP Morgan funding the set up of the Super League with over $6 billion, it is estimated that each of the 15 founding members expects to gain around $400 million merely to establish “a secure financial foundation,” which is four times more than Bayern Munich earned last season after winning the Champions League.
Additionally, the clubs believe that selling the broadcast rights (which have proved to generate more revenue for clubs than commercial income in the past five years) for the Super League, as well as the commercial income, will be worth billions. And it will all go to them, rather than being redistributed to smaller clubs and lesser leagues through UEFA.
This move works against domestic leagues, whose value and the clubs not involved with the Super League will diminish drastically as they are effectively rendered also-rans every year.
So the clubs and their owners will be smiling at the bank; are their fans happy with that?
No. Not as such. The previous two days have been filled with outrage from fans, aggrieved clubs and others citing betrayal of their loyalty, and shattering the dreams of millions of young footballers who grow up with the hope of playing in, and winning the glorious Champions League and World Cup.
The fact that teams like Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United have had lacklustre performances both domestically and in European competitions – sometimes even failing to qualify – but get an automatic pass for the Super League has been heavily criticised by fans, for they feel that playing in an elite club tournament has to be earned.
The fact that they will be permanent members without fear of falling out and going through qualifications makes it even more unfair for smaller clubs that work tirelessly every season to improve their performances to rub shoulders with the big boys.
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