If you’ve been following sports media, you might have become aware of the hullabaloo going on across “the pond” over the aborted attempt to launch the Super League. The European Super League was supposed to be a breakaway group of so-called “super clubs” that attempted to form an independent organization. According to The Liverpool Echo, several owners decided to form their own breakaway league styled after the NFL.
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European soccer operates on a different system than major sports in America. The clubs are organized in leagues with relegation and promotion. This means that if you finish in the bottom three, you get relegated to the lower tier. And three teams from the bottom tier get promoted to the next tier.
I could write a lengthy article explaining how the English second tier is called the Championship and the English third tier is called Division One. Back in the ’80s, the second tier was called Division Two, but then marketing geniuses decided to screw things up. It’s been an unholy mess for the past 20-odd years.
However, while promotion and relegation are great for the fans, because it makes the teams fight to the last whistle of the season, it’s not good for the owners. Teams that drop from the top tier in England, which is called the Premier League, stand to lose about $60 million in revenue, according to Sky Sports. And billionaire owners don’t like that. Sometimes relegation causes teams to go into a freefall, and they drop all the way into the English fourth tier.
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Over the last 20 years, more American sports entrepreneurs have become involved in European soccer leagues especially the EPL. Several EPL teams are already owned by Americans such as Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool. Liverpool Football Club is owned by the Fenway Sports Group that also owns the Boston Red Sox. And it has been a profitable venture. The Fenway Sports Group purchased Liverpool for about $400 million. The club is now worth about $1.3 billion.
The European Super League would have concentrated more money in the hands of fewer people. Currently, teams that qualify for the European Champions League (a competition involving the top four teams from each European league) have to share the revenue. However, the proposed Super League would have been 12 teams who shared about $3 billion.
At least two of the teams, Manchester United and Arsenal haven’t won league titles for several years. Arsenal, which is my favorite club, currently sits mid-table and hasn’t won a league title since 2004. Manchester United hasn’t recovered since their inspirational coach Alex Ferguson retired and has been without a league title since 2012. Yet they were considered to be one of the best teams in Europe?
Fail to plan, plan to fail
However, the roll out of this Super League has been a disaster and that’s putting it mildly. It will go down in history alongside other screwups such as new Coke and the Trump presidency. There are several problems.
According to what I’ve read, none of the teams received permission from their national leagues to create this new group and regulations from the EPL said they needed to do this. Also, there’s the question of UEFA, the organization that runs the Champions League. Both organizations are up in arms about the Super League and have threatened to punish breakaway teams.
Another major problem with the Super League is it was invitation-only, the teams in charge got to choose who was a member of the league. The Super League was supposed to consist of the best teams in Europe, but at least two of the teams, Manchester United and Arsenal, haven’t won league titles for several years.
Arsenal, which is my favorite club, currently sits mid-table and hasn’t won a league title since 2004. Manchester United hasn’t recovered since their inspirational coach Alex Ferguson retired and has been without a league title since 2012. Yet they were considered to be one of the best teams in Europe?
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1:22 PM ET Tom HamiltonSenior Writer Close * Joined ESPN in 2011 * Covered two Olympics, a pair of Rugby World Cups and…
Naturally, fans on both sides of the Atlantic are furious at the Super League concept. European fans are mad because the Super League disregards longstanding traditions which reward competitiveness. And fans in America are angry because the proposed Super League would make European soccer more like American sports and take all the fun away. Many American fans watch European soccer because of the competitiveness and how different it is from the NFL and the NBA.
Fortunately, the Super League seems to be already dead, although it was around for about 48 hours. Swift backlash from the fans and the media has caused many teams to already pull out of the league. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has already apologized to fans. The last time I checked, more than half the teams had already quit the fledgling league.
But the super clubs may eventually get what they want, at least in some form. Maybe the Super League experiment was a giant negotiating exercise. The super clubs threatened to leave because they wanted more money. UEFA has already responded to this by agreeing to change the format of the Champions League by adding more games, which equals more revenue.
But currently, the Super League looks to be a smoldering ruin. It will live in infamy as a disastrous experiment to try and Americanize European soccer.