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Why a European Super League could save football

Think the European breakaway will ruin the sport? Think again

Why a European Super League could save football
04 March 2016

If you believe the reports in the newspapers, and the incredible quotes from Relevent Sports chairman, Charlie Stillitano, Europe’s richest clubs want to break away from their domestic and Uefa commitments and create a closed-shop European Super League. Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United appear to be leading the charge with Arsenal a reluctant partner eager to not get left behind.

They’d be joined by the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich in a competition that would be the world’s biggest year-round sporting event.

Does it make your blood boil? Have you used the #againstmodernfootball hashtag multiple times today? If so, chill out because the European Super League could actually save football. And here’s why…

It will make weekends incredible

The richest European clubs think revenues would be higher if intercontinental matches were played at the weekend instead of the Tuesdays and Wednesdays used for the Champions League. It would allow fans outside European time zones more opportunities to watch and lead to more lucrative TV deals.

What this means for British fans watching on TV is you’d probably get two big Premier League games followed by a pair of huge European Super League matches on both Saturday and Sunday. Imagine a Saturday with Spurs v Everton and West Ham v Newcastle followed by Manchester City v Barcelona and Juventus v Arsenal. It’s a mouth-watering prospect that would get even more people watching football. It would be glorious.

It would make the Premier League more exciting

The clubs are apparently split on whether they want to leave their domestic leagues totally or field reserve teams in them. What this would mean is that the likes of Leicester would be in with a shout every single season.

The Premier League is frequently hyped as the best in the world, but anyone with an ounce of football knowledge knows this is nonsense. However, it is exciting and competitive – and this would increase massively with the ‘Big Five’ out of contention.

It will make the lower leagues richer

Twitter is full of fans proclaiming that if the European Super League comes to fruition they’re done with football. Washing their hands of the sport. This is nonsense.

What will happen is these people will remain disillusioned by the business of football not the beauty of the game itself. They’ll still need their fix. It will lead to a boom in attendances across the lower leagues and especially non-league.

You’ll get Chelsea fans swapping Stamford Bridge for Dulwich Hamlet, AFC Wimbeldon or Bromley FC; Manchester City fans will end up going to watch Bury.

The European Super League is about TV deals and executive boxes, not the office worker forgoing a summer holiday with his young family so he can afford a season ticket instead. Once this becomes more obvious those fans will trickle down, taking their money with them.

It will make football more honest

Leicester fans are going crazy over the prospect of their team winning the Premier League this season. Why? Because of the glory. It’s not because it will allow the club to ‘expand its portfolio’ or bump up ticket prices.

But for Europe’s top clubs, these are the driving forces. Manchester United now has an official tractor, for god’s sake. These same clubs tour the world during the summer to ‘raise their brand profile’ in the International Champions Cup and yet complain about having to play so many games whenever they slip up on a Tuesday night at Stoke.

It will split European football: on the one side the Leicesters and Tottenhams of this world who are champing at the bit to win England’s biggest prize, and on the other side the Manchester Cities and Chelseas who are simply large financial conglomerates. We will no longer need to pretend these clubs exist on the same plane.

The European Super League will take matches to China, the US and Qatar; the Premier League will stay home and all will be right with the world.

It will be hilarious to see rich clubs struggle

Charlie Stillitano, the US brain behind the European Super League and one of sport’s foremost innovators, says, “What would Manchester United argue: did we create soccer or did Leicester create [it]?”

In the eyes of the richest clubs, they did invent football, or at least the version we’ve come to accept in the past 15 or so years. And they’re basically right.

This has come to a head this year because Chelsea and Liverpool especially are so far off the Champions League places and are furious about missing out. It’s great entertainment. Now close your eyes and imagine a scenario where instead of say Chelsea losing to the likes of Bournemouth, they’re getting beaten by PSG, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern in consecutive weeks and sitting rooted to the table. Think of Aston Villa this season and then swap them for Liverpool.

The European Super League concept is built on a sense of entitlement – clubs worried they won’t qualify for the meritocratic Champions League simply because they’re not good enough – so imagine the entertainment value of a mega-club being battered every week and longing for the days of domestic competition. What’s European for schadenfreude?

Photographs: Magi Haroun/REX Shutterstock, Kieran McManus/BPI/REX Shutterstock, Stuart Butcher/ProSports/REX Shutterstock, Paul Terry/JMP/REX Shutterstock, Andy Hooper / Daily Mail /REX Shutterstock, Kevin Quigley/Associated Newspapers/REX Shutterstock, Andy Hooper / Daily Mail /REX Shutterstock, Back Page Images/REX Shutterstock