By Emily Salley
A European Super League could be in future plans for Europe’s most elite clubs after German news publication Der Spiegel, leaked reports from Football Leaks, a whistleblowing platform, of an email sent to La Liga giants Real Madrid.
The email, sent on 22 October, reportedly included a “binding term sheet”, consisting of 11 ‘founding’ clubs: Barcelona and Real Madrid; Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United; Juventus and AC Milan; Paris Saint-Germain; and Bayern Munich. A 20-year membership, with no possibility of relegation or promotion.
The proposed competition is supposedly set to be established in 2021, with plans for five other clubs to be welcomed to the League as guests. This would include clubs Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Marseille and Roma.
So would a European Super League be a good thing or spell an end to the football we know and love?
Essentially, it would be a purified form of football, an opportunity to see the world’s best players playing against each other every week. Imagine the wonders of Messi, Ronaldo and Mbappe playing the UK’s finest teams on a more regular and domestic basis. It’s hard not to marvel at the prospect.
But with a safety net granted with the impossibility of relegation, the novelty is sure to wear out. The last days of a season are what tiered league systems are all about – clubs fighting for survival.
To beat the best, you have to be the best, and to be the best, well you must have a considerable amount of financial backing, something these 16 teams are not short of. Because of this, a European Super League would unquestionably cause the quality of football to progress at a faster rate, causing the beautiful game to evolve even closer to perfection as more money is invested to be the World’s best.
But there’s something deeply worrying about this capitalist approach to European football. With a Super League for the continent’s top-flight sides, what’s left for the clubs who aren’t in the top positions of their league table. Without the possibility of promotion into this old boy’s league, polarisation between the elite and not so-elite is destined to be exacerbated.
The Super League is perfect for teams such as Juventus, Bayern Munich and PSG, who are experiencing immense domination within each of their leagues. Serie A has seen Juventus crowned champions for the past 7 years whilst Bayern have picked up 6 consecutive Bundesliga wins. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have shared the glory for the past decade in La Liga. These sides are ironically playing in a league of their own, whilst other teams are left with little chance of success.
The Premier League helps to offer a little more pluralism, with any league-winning club failing to retain their title in a consecutive year. Leicester City’s infamous win in the 2015-2016 season was reason enough to fall in love with football, a team coming from nowhere to beat the odds and win one of Europe’s top-tiered leagues.
Yet there is an increasing threat that this is about to change as Man City continue to heighten their economic power. By buying world class players in each transfer window and promoting their global brand; their documentary ‘All or Nothing’, which was subject to considerable criticism as a propaganda campaign, is an obvious attempt at doing just that. A European Super League would essentially, by naming the top clubs in the world, be assisting eleven of the world’s biggest brands to become even greater, whilst also ensuring footballing progress in countries such as Turkey, Greece and Croatia is hindered, by failing to include them.
What happens to a club when they remove their backbone – the lifelong fans whose support has lived through generations. The fan’s who give each club an authenticity and tradition, who live to see their team in historic derbies, a characteristic of football which would be wiped out by the proposed European Super League. No North London derby or Derby della Capitale. The cost to travel abroad would be too much for many fans who have travelled the length and breadth of their country to support their team.
A European Super League is a capitalist attempt to make the rich richer, with little thought of how it would impact football as a whole. By removing the historic traditions of clubs and preventing supporters from following their side, the Champion’s League is a superior version of the proposed Super League, allowing fluidity and including all of Europe’s top teams.