TWELVE, the richest football club in Europe, announced last week that they have established a closed competition Super League based on American sports. The idea lasted only a few days, but after as many as 9 founding clubs withdrew, it failed. In the case of such a league, this will be the biggest organizational change in football history.
With the existence of the Super League, for the first time, we will lose a unified structure that no longer has only one roofed house. The main reason for its establishment is that the biggest club wants to take most of the financial cake that UEFA has paid for and transfer it to other clubs, as well as elitism, and its final form should become a European NBA.
Although football seems to have been moving in this direction for more than two decades, the situation is very complicated. The decree establishing a new alliance can theoretically solve some existing problems, but it will also create many new and more serious problems. These are the key questions and unresolved questions. Once the creator of the Super League realizes this kind of alliance, he must find answers.
The Chinese Super League is a certain way that most football fans want. Every time someone pays a TV station that is entitled to broadcast rights to the Premier League instead of buying tickets for the local lower league, they will make a wise choice, although they may not know the consequences of doing so. Such a decision directly determines the market. The market situation shows that football fans want to watch the biggest football leagues and derby matches. They are more interested in today’s clubs that are more global companies than local football and diluted beer. The shields and jerseys are only a reminder that they are 30 or 100 years. In short, people want to watch the showdown between the best players in the world, and only a small number of clubs can pay Messi or Neymar’s salary.
From this perspective, the decision to create a league where there are no longer various Getafe and Burnley seems logical, and Getafe and Burnley are just footnotes for Barcelona and Manchester United. If there are more people watching Barcelona vs. Real Madrid than Betis, then it can be assumed that “everyone” will watch Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, Chelsea or Manchester City every weekend. This is precisely the guideline of the founder of the Chinese Super League, but a very important fact has been overlooked. This conclusion only partially respects the views of people watching football matches.
The biggest derby dog today has received attention not only because of the quality of football, but also because of its background. The attention we give them is more eye-catching than any other football game. A derby is a year-round game and it is expected to take a few months of leave. This is a championship game, and it allows us to mobilize emotions against imaginary or real enemies that are the opposite of the team we supported for 90 minutes.
In this format, the derby in the traditional sense will no longer exist. In other words, the Chinese Super League will reduce some of the biggest football derbies to the most ordinary games, which is an entry point in the game calendar. Even the most enthusiastic Barcelona fans would not use this game as a platform for expressing intolerance against the hateful royalists with the same enthusiasm and interest, if they played against Real Madrid six times a year. If a football analyst or news reporter sees a game between PSG and Liverpool 3 times in the same season, he will hardly wait.
Nowadays, football fans will experience the biggest game, which is a reward for the “dessert” of the season. Once all possible Grand Derby games are actually available every day, then the factors of desire, need and expectation lose their importance. These are precisely the factors that affect the market and the law of demand to a large extent.
Another overlooked factor in the whole story is that in each league, no matter how concentrated the quality, each team has relative strength to make it interesting or irrelevant.
Today, for example, the match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid is a rehearsal between the top four teams in the two strongest world leagues. When the Champions League draw brings them together, most football fans will be happy to watch the game on Tuesday or Wednesday. What happens when the relative strength of these clubs in the Super League is negligible? Even if the match between the 7th club and the 12th club in a league is prefixed with “super”, how many football fans will be interested? In the format of the Champions League Cup, any first-class or second-class team can eliminate anyone in two games. If Tottenham Hotspur ends the season with a ratio of 2 wins, 1 draw and 15 losses, how much interest will they have? How much benefit will a club that is not eligible for the playoffs in five years, and because of the closed structure, it does not even have to fight to stay?
Even in the highest-paying NBA league, the fundamental difference in sports culture is huge, and every season has important and unimportant clubs. On the contrary, regardless of the outcome, there are relatively irrelevant franchises. These people come from smaller and less reputable backgrounds, which is why they have less marketing potential than the New York Knicks or the Los Angeles Lakers. Index has written about the problems faced by football’s desire to replicate such a system with a simple brushstroke.
In the NBA, the issue of maintaining such a club and its potential is clearly regulated by collective agreements, salary caps and draft picks. Can something similar be introduced in football today? More importantly, how will it react to sports traditions and the EU legal framework?
One of the most common arguments for the establishment of the Super League is to conform to the football trend. This mainly refers to the fact that the organization and logistics of modern football are not fast enough to keep up with the huge growth in money and power of the wealthiest clubs.
However, the establishment of a closed super elite league is not a step towards following the trend of football, but to stop the trend. As UEFA President Severin said, the theoretical composition of the Chinese Super League looked completely different 15 or 20 years ago. Before the Arab, Sheikh and Russian capitals entered, there were no Chelsea, PSG or Manchester City among them. Just a year ago, there were rumors that Newcastle would be acquired by the Saudi prince and one of the richest men in the world, Mohammed bin Salman. If there is no guarantee that they will be part of the closed elite, why would anyone be willing to invest billions of dollars today? If there is no substantial investment in clubs, and these clubs are no longer part of the elite class, the composition of the elite class cannot be changed.