The big story to break in global sports last month was the unveiling of the ‘Super League’, an exclusive football competition of Europe’s twelve largest clubs. Top contenders from domestic leagues like Real Madrid and Manchester United spar at the highest level, leaving out less interesting opponents.
Because most of the Super League’s twelve contenders are regular Champions League attendees, one may wonder what separates this league from what’s already at play. Most importantly, the Super League would contain permanent members whose admittance to the competition would not rely on performance elsewhere.
Top-flight European football is valued in the billions. Those clubs with access to the highest level of competition and retain the largest viewership secure greater portions of the market for themselves. With a cash prize of $400m for the winner, the organisers are betting on a super return as well.
Backlash against the proposition is well established, albeit counterintuitive. It stands to reason why fans would not want guaranteed clashes between their favourite clubs and their international rivals. Psychologically speaking, the Super League robs the sport of its competition. Without any change or upward mobility, the money changing hands in professional football becomes more transparent.
This comes in a climate where wealth inequality between clubs is becoming increasingly exaggerated. Simply compare the player budget of Chelsea and Bournemouth to see how much. There isn’t a match between those clubs where online bookmakers grant Bournemouth higher odds than Chelsea.
Is it wrong?
Super League hopefuls have defended the initiative on the basis of cash. The global pandemic set back many organisations years in financial planning. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have publicly stated that they have suffered greatly in the past year, and the UEFA’s threat to penalise them is unjust.
Moreover, they claim it is for the good of the football sector. In essence, the Super League is intended as an appeal to younger generations less engaged with domestic leagues, posing existential questions to the stats of the sport.
Today clubs garner significant revenue from sponsorships, including sports betting providers, as a means to extending their financial security. It can be argued that alternative channels like these can be explored, rather than consolidating popularity in a Super League.
At present the debate with the UEFA is ongoing, but the consensus of the crowd is that there would be nothing super about this competition.