Over the past year or so, the normality within football has fluttered into the abyss. Instead, as supporters, we have now become accustomed to an unconventional, divergent environment that could not have been envisaged beforehand, only emerging due to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And sure, unwillingly trading the grandest of sporting stadia for our sofas and television screens was a real shock to the system, yet one which pales in comparison to the bombshell announcement of the corporate enterprise that is the European Super League.
Rumours to assimilate the competition had been emanating throughout the upper echelons of the game since the 1990’s and, every couple of years, the prospect would briefly surface before retreating to peripherality- but by all accounts, it appeared an improbable outline that could never, not in a million years, ever actually happen.
Well, I wish that was the case. A ludicrous idea that never should have been granted the green light now looks set to overwrite the heritage, principles and inclusivity of football, much to the dismay of pretty much anyone.
What Actually is the European Super League?
The Super League is expected to have up to 20 clubs in participation and at the moment, twelve teams across Europe have publicly announced their association.
The proverbial top six of English football- Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs have all broken the news that they will be involved in the Super League. They will be joined by AC Milan, Internazionale and Juventus, whereas Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are also going to form the tournament’s Spanish contingent.
In due course, three unnamed clubs will announce that they will be taking part and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to gain entry on an achievements-based system will be carried out ahead of August, when the tournament is set to commence.
It adopts a somewhat idiosyncratic method, though one slightly reminiscent of the UEFA Champions League; teams will be divided into two groups of ten and will play home and away fixtures before the top three in each group will automatically qualify for the quarter finals.
Then on, the teams who finish fourth and fifth will then face off in a two-legged playoff for the remaining position. The two-legged format will stay intact all the way until the final, which will take place at a neutral venue in May.
We can quite easily decipher who the beneficiaries are from the Super League, and who have been dismissed with disregard- American bank JP Morgan will be spearheading the scheme, dishing out a reported £3.25bn amongst the participants in order to effectively bribe them away from traditionalism.
The Super League may seem an enterprising utopia for the viper’s nest of behemoths at the apex of the game, however, any teams who enter the tournament are set to be dealt with unprecedented consequences that will curlicue football into an ineffable state.
UEFA themselves have displayed their distaste, vowing to ban any teams involved from playing domestic and continental fixtures and have also stated that any players who take part will not be allowed to represent their nations.
Given that the summer’s European Championship kicks off in merely a few months, it seems implausible that players will substitute the intangible aura of International pride for the competition[Super League]- well, if you could even refer to it as a competition.
Putting insatiable financial gain (the blueprint of football at the highest level nowadays) aside, there really is not much to play for as it consists of artificial fabric as opposed to authentic glory. There will be no giant killings, no history, no dreams to harbour and the same fifteen teams will be monotonously facing off against each other to create a numbing, tedious inferno.
Furthermore, is there any form of genuine integrity entailed? It does not appear that way, it must be said. For example, Arsenal were offered (and accepted) a place in the Super League, even though they sit in 9th position and have not played Champions League football since the 2016/17 campaign.
Similarly, Spurs can also be attributed with a notion of wonder and confusement as they only sit two places above their North London rivals in 7th and, barring a euphoric run to the Champions League Final 2019, are yet to ever really stamp down their marker on the European stage.
Another alarming issue entailed is the treatment of supporters throughout the ordeal. The very roots of football stem from fanfare. The supporters are the heartbeat, though by every growing day, those who have kept the sport going appear more and more distant from what football has turned into. So, it begs the question: where is the regard for them?
There is none. We are simply peripheral figurines in the intemperate business model that coats the game, with traditional supporters being referred to as “legacy fans” by the European Super League as they look to focus on “fans of the future” who want superstar names as opposed to seamless integrity.
Although it has been a long time since supporters were welcomed into football grounds, the norm is slowly but surely returning.
Last weekend’s FA Cup Semi-final between Leicester City and Southampton had 4,000 spectators in attendance and the League Cup Final on Sunday will see fans back in a minimal capacity, too. When numbers do begin to rise, it does not bode well for supporters of the top six clubs, who will have to clock up obscene air miles on a routine basis simply to watch their team play. It would not be harsh to call the general situation a complete disgrace.
Moving on, as we all know, social media platforms are so often a fulcrum for disagreement and dispute, but in spite of the tarnishing disgrace that looks set to sweep, small mercies can be savoured from the fact that fans all over the globe have grouped together as one to express their contempt towards the Super League.
For now, there is not much we can do, however a school of thought lingers that the channeling of abhorrence from players, coaches and pundits akin could well cause a rift in the motions. Let’s all hope that, for the good of the beautiful game, the bizarre scheme can meet an early conclusion.
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