12 of the biggest names in European football have agreed to set up a brand new European Super League, throwing the world of soccer into disarray, confusion and a huge amount of anger.
The 12 clubs, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid from La Liga in Spain, Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan from Italy and six Premier League teams, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham made their intentions clear on Sunday after the story had been broken by news outlets earlier in the day.
A further three teams are expected to join the founding 12 teams of the league shortly, with a further five teams admitted to the tournament through some kind of qualification process.
BREAKING: Statement confirming that Man Utd, Liverpool, Man City, Spurs, Arsenal & Chelsea – along with AC Milan, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, & Real Madrid have agreed to establish a new European ‘Super League’, with 3 more clubs expected to join pic.twitter.com/33xrmIWrrp
— Dan Roan (@danroan) April 18, 2021
What has caused so much consternation is that the proposed European Super League will not feature any form of qualification, relegation or promotion for the 15 member teams.
Instead, it will be an NFL-style system, where the same 15 teams compete every season, along with five teams from around Europe that can qualify for the tournament (although how they can qualify, has not been ascertained).
The plan is for the competition to be played midweek in place of the current Champions League, with teams still competing domestically in their own league.
However, those plans have been dismissed by a number of organisations, including UEFA and FIFA, who have said that if the teams do form a breakaway league, then they would not be permitted to play in their domestic league or cup competitions and that players would not be allowed to play for their country.
UEFA’s statement on a Super League today:
‘The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.’
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 18, 2021
The announcement last night was met with almost universal condemnation from everyone involved in football, including fan groups of the teams that have signed up as founder members.
A number of high-profile pundits on TV and media have voiced their disapproval.
Ex-England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand called it a ‘war on football’ while his former team-mate and Sky TV Pundit Gary Neville said “It’s embarrassing and goes against everything football is about.”.
Neville has also called on the six teams in the Premier League to have points docked and to be placed at the bottom of the table.
Those sentiments have been echoed universally on social media with many accusing the 12 founding clubs of pure greed.
A Power Play?
It is surely no coincidence that this announcement comes just 24-hours before UEFA had been expected to announce a change to the current Champions League format, with plans to expand the Group Stage section of the tournament to include more teams and for teams to play more games.
These changes had been designed to try and offset the threat of a breakaway European Super League, but based on comments from the new organisation, for which a rudimentary website went live last night, those changes have not gone far enough.
Former England striker Gary Lineker suspects that the move by the clubs is part of a ‘power play’ where they flex their muscles with UEFA to sort out a compromise on a new look format for the Champions League.
Looking forward to the compromise with UEFA and the clubs….which, I sense, is what this is all been designed for. A power play.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) April 18, 2021
That is certainly a possibility and one that is likely to play out over the coming weeks and months.
Would The NFL Model Work For Soccer?
A lot has been said about the NFL model and whether or not it would work for a European Super League. Most seem to think it would fail.
Yet, there are some elements that are a good idea. A salary cap, for example, is a very fair way to ensure teams are equal. The Draft and Free Agency also ensures poorer teams can improve.
The NFL model, while still having a few issues, has been designed to be as fair as it can to all 32 teams. The European Super League as it stands, would not have any such safeguards in place and as such, would not be a workable model within the world of soccer as it stands.
A fracture has opened up in soccer and it could change the face of football for years to come.
It is going to be interesting to see how things pan out over the coming weeks and months while the future of the game at the highest level in Europe is decided.