Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will – Frederick Douglass
Social media went wild after the announcement of the European Super League. A brewing battle between UEFA ‘elite’ clubs and the governing body has finally turned into a full blown war. Bonds are being destroyed, new alliances being formed and friends are turning into enemies.
The newly formed European Super League has caused a lot of uproar among football fans and stakeholders. 12 ‘elite’ clubs in Europe have come together to start a super league, putting the credibility of the Uefa Champions League in jeopardy.
What is the European Super League? Which clubs are involved? What is at stake? And how does it affect the UEFA Champions League?
What is the European Super League?
Twelve ‘elite’ European clubs have announced the formation of a new midweek competition called the European Super League. This competition will be governed by the European Super League ‘Founding Clubs’.
Which clubs are involved?
Twelve European clubs are involved. Six from England, three from Italy and three from Spain. These twelve clubs are ‘Founding Clubs’ in the European Super League.
Teams from England – Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.
Teams from Italy – Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan.
Teams from Spain – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
The European Super League has three slots open, as fifteen teams are expected to make up the ‘Founding Clubs’
How will the European Super League work?
According to a statement on the Super League website:
“The Super League is a new European competition between 20 top clubs including 15 founders and five annual qualifiers. There will be two groups of 10 clubs each, playing home and away fixtures within the group each year.
“Following the group stage, eight clubs will qualify for a knockout tournament, playing home and away until the single-match Super League championship, in a dramatic four-week end to the season.
“Games will be played midweek, and all clubs will remain in their domestic leagues.”
To make it clear, here is how the ESL plans to run:
20 clubs will participate with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying round for five additional teams every year based on achievements in the prior season.
The competition will have midweek fixtures as all participating clubs will continue to compete in their national leagues. With this, the traditional domestic match calendar will remain and not tampered with.
It has been planned to start in August with clubs in two groups of ten teams, playing home and away fixtures. The top three teams in each group will automatically qualify for the quarter finals. Teams that finish fourth and fifth will play a two-legged play-off for the other quarter-final positions. From the quarter finals, it will be a two-leg knockout tie until the final. The final will be a single fixture and it is slated for the end of May at a neutral venue.
How much money is involved?
The Super League will receive a $5billion commitment for this project from American Bank, JP Morgan.
According to the announcement from the Founding Clubs, ‘Each Founding Club will receive €3.5 billion for infrastructure investment and to reduce the effect of the COVID pandemic of the clubs’ .
Every participating club will get £250m-£300m at the beginning.
How does this affect the Champions League?
Given the calibre of teams in the Super League, it will replace the glamour of the Champions League.
Prior to this announcement, UEFA already planned to have discussions on a new Champions League format. The new format was to cater to the interest of the ‘elite’ teams, offering them more matches.
This new format had a 2024 commencement date, which includes the Champions League being expanded to 36 teams. The number of matches will increase to 225, from the current 125 matches after the new format and increase in the number of teams.
The whole UEFA reform was intended to favor the ‘elite’ teams, offering them four automatic qualification slots based on their European history regardless of their league positions.
UEFA will feel hard done by following this move from the ‘elite’ clubs. It means a less glamorous Champions League, less revenue and reduced quality.
Following the announcement of the Super League, UEFA have threatened the clubs involved with various sanctions. However, the clubs have said that they look forward to a discussion with UEFA and FIFA on the success of the new competition and football as a whole.
The idea of a Super League has been met with resistance from fans, with some players also coming out to voice their displeasure. However, the participating clubs will be hardly concerned as the effect of the pandemic on their revenues has been huge. The Super League offers three times more money than the UEFA Champions League and there is a guarantee of participation for the founding clubs.
The argument against the Super League has majorly been about the format. With the 15 founding clubs guaranteed a spot every year, the national leagues might lose its essence.