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European Super League

By Matthew Lovekin :  08/02/2008 :  Comments (8) :
After the recent Premier League ambitions to play games abroad, it got me back thinking to my mis-spent youth! I remember about 20 years ago listing out how I thought football would become in the future and even mapped out matchdays to make sure it was all possible.

The first thing that changed in football was the start of the Champions League. An idea to protect the big clubs of Europe that you can have a bad season and not win your national title (even finish 4th) and still qualify for Europe's premier competition. This week's actions to move our beautiful game abroad is the second step. I've no doubt it will eventually happen as it what the powers-that-be want.

However, the next step will be that the other big European clubs will not want to be left behind. Soon it will be Barcelona and Real Madrid playing La Liga games in Bangkok. Then the Milan giants and Juventus and co. will also to want cash in on the foreign market. Before you know it, the likes of Lyon and Bayern Munich and even Celtic and Rangers will be persuading their leagues to play a 'game abroad'. The foreign market will soon be saturated and the inital fears of substandard matches and dwindling crowds will start. Will Wigan v Reading really sell out 80,000 in Giants Stadium in New York? How about Empoli v Reggina selling 120,000 in the Aztec in Mexico City?

Richard Scudamore and his cronies will soon realise it's only the 'big' clubs that these foreign fans want to see. Obviously the only choice then will be to play just the 'big' clubs abroad to suit demand.

Then, hey presto, if it's only the 'big' clubs that draw the crowds, then the 'big' clubs should just have their own league, hence the European Super League and just take over the Champions League.

These clubs will probably be decided on something completely un-football related such as the 18 clubs with the most money will be selected, or the 18 clubs with the biggest attendances. There will probably be either no relegation/promotion or only one team relegated. Imagine a club like Everton winning the 'rest of England' championship and win the right to enter the Super League, but will have to play several play-off games against other 'national' champions just to be able to challenge the 18th and last placed Super League team in a relegation/promotion match. By this time, the teams will be so unevenly matched, it won't even be a contest. All Super League teams will generate huge amounts of income playing massive games against other big clubs every week, with all the world's best players wanting to play in the European Super League and squads of 50 players, against teams left in their national league with dwindling attendances, sponsorships and finances.

This situation IS the future of football. It may not be season 2010/11, it may not be 5 years after that, but this IS the future of football as we take another step towards global football.

Grass routes football is really struggling. Lower league football clubs are going into administration almost weekly. National football has already given way to club football. 20 years ago I remember the World Cup being the ultimate in football with the best players performing at their best in the best match. Now, the Champions League is the biggest competition, with players pulling out of internationals not to suffer 'burnout', and the fact that a team that finishes fourth in their domestic league can win the League of Champions!?! It's all about money now and the Premier League bosses have drained all English fans so now moving onto the foreign fans.

Remember this article in 20 or 30 years time, just after Man Utd have won their fifth consecutive European Super League title after beating Real Madrid in front of 100,000 fans in Morumbi, Brazil.

Reader Comments

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Steve Carter
1   Posted 09/02/2008 at 03:27:24

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Sadly, I think you’re right, Matthew. One thing you don’t go into is the franchisation of football teams and "one city, one team except in New York and Los Angeles" concept a la the NFL and NBA. That works best for Murdoch and, remember, like it or not, if football is now about global pay TV revenue, its future is what he says it is. If that’s how it’s going to turn out, then my "mark my words" gratuity is that, unless the shite is going to doing a Leeds sometime soon, forget Kirkby, the Loop or renovating Goodison - we should relocate to Dublin.
Michael Tracey
2   Posted 09/02/2008 at 03:41:57

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Let the Sky Big4 piss off into a Super League if they want. Then Ban them from FA Cup. When the bubble bursts and they can’t keep up with there costs and come grovelling back make those Big 4 teams start from the Lowest point in Engliesh Football and work themselves up back that way! I am getting sick of these minority of Companies (because they are not football clubs anymore) dictating! We would be better off without them! So what there would be no Derby anymore. or the other way to even up the game is a salary cap like they do in other sports! That will even up the playing field somewhat!
Peter Pridgeon
3   Posted 09/02/2008 at 04:47:23

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I read your article and I have read many more on this subject and that of people decrying the game as a money game rather than a sport. What amazes me is that you offer no reflection on the game of the past, so let me spell it out to you.
Football has been professional virtually since the inception of the Cambridge rules that created a sport people could identify with. Football from its inception was adopted by the wealthy an sometimes philanthropic but the underlying base of the sport has always been about money. From player to coach to manager and up to chairman, they all know; just like many fans know that the sport does not exist without money.
All clubs including (and I would hazard to say more so) Everton are nothing but self preserving entities that require money to function, to buy players, to pay wages and to supply the share holders occasionally with a dividend.

Everton are no different from the big four, the difference is that we used to part of the big five Everton, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal and Man United.
We now covert a place in that elite group again and we care very little what happens to Man City, Blackburn, Newcastle and Aston Villa as well as the other clubs that inhabit a space in the current premier League.
If your supposed (and I do not doubt it may happen) European League does go ahead, lets just hope that we are a part of it and not rallying against it because we have been excluded on the basis that we are not sufficiently supported or marketable to be part of it.
Everton have always been in the fore front of change, from adopting professionalism and leaving behind our fierce rivals, Bootle and Birkenhead to the being a founding member of the football league.
When this change comes we hope as supporters that we are not left on the scrap heap of history as many a club has been left.
Bill Goodall
4   Posted 09/02/2008 at 06:50:56

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There is every chance that what you write of will happen. Everton have a responsibility to take this on board and make every effort to be one of the "elite" teams selected to this league if it were to happen. If it does not happen Everton still have the responsibility to make the same effort to be one of the "elite".
Twenty five years ago we were amongest the top tier of teams going around. We did not complain about the small teams getting a bum deal then, why should we now?
Stephen Burton
5   Posted 09/02/2008 at 11:01:02

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I disagree, there has been talk of a European Superleague now for years but nothing has materialised except an expanded Champions League which in truth, has become tedious and boring at best, at least until the knock-out stages. Why should supporters bother about their team playing someone from 1000 miles away they know or care little about?. It can only lead to half empty grounds and lower viewing figures except for the very, very top end (Madrid, Milan, Man Utd) but there simply isn’t enough of these superclubs to make the league thrive. Hence the annual Champions League snorefest. Go Inter!
Chad Schofield
6   Posted 09/02/2008 at 17:22:14

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Matthew, a scary yet superbly written article.
Whilst it would be nice to beleive that football will not follow this path, fans will boycott etc (AFC Wimbledon and is it FC United) it’s very unlikely. As stated in response, football is commercial and therefore it is about money - not soley, but it is the main driving force. Teams have been brands for years now, let’s not try to disguise that. They are always trying to market to the largest fan base and sell their merchandise. Whilst we as fans (especially Everton fans) wouldn’t swap teams because of a "marketing" or anything, I did actually hear a Liverpool "fan" earnestly say that he would start "supporting" Chelski if Liverpool didn’t win against Havant & W’looville after conceeding the first goal. This isn’t really a dig at the RS, and was in a pub in London... but the most successful teams will always have their fair share of glory hunters. Football is global, and therefore the Asian and markets have been tapped into (Chang). This is not new stuff, but with greater demand, it will be these markets which essentially will dictate things like scheduling.
Stephen Burton, read your response and see if people would have been saying the same about the Premier League and Sky’s money. See what Steve Copell said about the FA Cup, and in some ways what we did in that competition this year. As I started, it’s scary but sadly fairly inevitable.
Chris Lumb
7   Posted 10/02/2008 at 10:02:28

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It all comes down to money and their numbers are blown apart if fans from other teams (i.e. not the big four) don’t chip in. Thats where the problem lies... Would you pay Sky £20 per month for a league that Everton are not involved in but the world biggest 20 clubs are???
Phil Smith
8   Posted 10/02/2008 at 13:03:10

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Another way of looking at this issue is to consider how football has expanded in the past. There were regional leagues in England because of the difficulty of travelling any great distances. As soon as the infrastructure was developed enough to allow realistic travel times the "big? teams from the regions were able to get together to form our national leagues. This decision was based on the attractiveness to locals of going to see these games not on the ability of away supporters to travel that far. For the majority of games stadiums are filled by locals not away fans.

Once international travel became realistic and television became the medium by which the majority of football fans viewed the game half empty stadiums didn’t matter anyway. The armchair supporters of the world are more important now than match-goers. The idea of playing games in the farthest flung parts of the world is only following the same pattern that happened in this country when the game was first setup.

By having games in exotic locations it simply adds to widening the appeal of the sport. In the long-run the inevitable desire of those who run the game must be a world club league. When they are talking about building a plane that will get people from London to Sydney Australia in 4 to 5 hours why not play where ever there is a demand for your product. Again when the infrastructure is in place to allow it inevitably it will happen. All that matters is whether Everton manage to stay amongst the highest echelon of the sport or not.

I thought David Moyes actually made a very good comment on the matter when he suggested that 5,000 free tickets and fights might be available for supporters to travel to these games as so much money could be generated it would be neither here nor there expense wise to the clubs involved and would retain the local interest.

We increasingly inhabit a global village and football began with one village playing their nearest rival. Some day that could mean a team from Earth playing a team from a Martian colony if the interest is percieved to be there and money is to be made then it will happen.

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