In world football, an event took place that has already been rushed to call a revolution. The entire modern structure of the largest football tournaments in the coming months may change beyond recognition.
“The best solutions for world football”
“Twelve of Europe’s top football clubs have come together today to announce their agreement to establish a new midweek competition run by the founding clubs, the Super League. Three more clubs will be invited to join the first season of the tournament, which starts very soon.
The founding clubs look forward to discussing the new tournament with UEFA and FIFA and making the best decisions for world football, ”said a statement released on the night of April 18-19.
The authors of the project declare their intention to launch the first season of the Super League in August 2021.
The clubs that are ready to start in the new tournament include Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico, Milan, Inter and Juventus.
Sources claim that in the very near future Bayern, Leipzig and Porto may join the Super League.
In total, according to the organizers’ plan, 20 teams should start in the first season of the Super League. 15 of them will receive a permanent place in the tournament, and five more will change annually.
The clubs will be divided into two groups of 10 teams, which will host a two-round tournament. Then the playoff stage will take place, the final in May 2022, approximately at the same time as the Champions League final is usually held.
According to the organizers of the Super League, all its participants will continue to compete in national championships, but not in European competitions.
Champions Cup: how it all began
To understand exactly what is happening, a little historical background is needed. The European Champions Cup was founded in 1955 at the suggestion of the French sports journalist and editor of L’Équipe Gabriel Ano… The goal of the tournament was initially to determine the strongest football club in Europe. Only the champions of their countries, as well as the winner of the previous draw, had the right to participate in the tournament.
The European Cup was held according to the Olympic system – at each stage the teams played against each other at home and away, after which the winner of the confrontation proceeded further.
By the early 1990s, with the growing commercial attractiveness of football, European grandees began to express dissatisfaction with this scheme. They were not satisfied with the fact that there were few matches in the tournament, and it was difficult to get there. For example, the Moscow Spartak, which dominated Russian football after the collapse of the USSR, entered the tournament without any problems as the champion of their country, while a whole scattering of giants from England and Spain was left behind.
True, the first tournament with a new name – the Champions League – turned into an embarrassment. Spanish “Barcelona”, the current winner of the European Cup, lost to the modest Russian CSKA and was eliminated from the draw. This incident prompted officials to consider expanding the representation of elite teams.
The new changes have led to the fact that the leading football powers in Europe got 4 places at once in the main European tournament. On the one hand, the new scheme made it possible to make the Champions League stronger, on the other hand, it ceased to be a de facto championship tournament.
However, even in this format, the Champions League did not suit everyone. In 2000, the top clubs created the G-14 organization, which was supposed to jointly represent the interests of the grandees in negotiations with FIFA and UEFA.
But not only. Potentially, the G-14 was considered as an alternative league, the participants of which could withdraw from the European competition.
What did the G-14 members want? Benefits, privileges, and most importantly – more money.
The bottom line is simple: from the point of view of the giants, matches with the European “poor” do not attract the interest of the audience. The games of the best are much more attractive from a commercial point of view.
This means that all the best and wealthy European teams must gather in a separate tournament, which will be watched by billions of fans.
And what about the rest? What to do with the development of football in non-elite countries?
The bosses of the leading teams have frankly admitted that these issues are of little interest to them.
Billions are given for the Super League
In the first decade of the 21st century, FIFA and UEFA succeeded in satisfying the appetites of the rich, and the G-14 ceased to exist, merging with the European Clubs Association.
However, the shadow of the “tournament of the rich” has not disappeared anywhere. Top clubs continued to press hard on UEFA, demanding changes in the structure of the football economy in their favor.
On April 19, 2021, the announcement of changes in the Champions League was planned – in short, there should be more matches, and the introduction of the so-called “Swiss” system of drawing suggests that the top clubs will play among themselves more often. This should lead to an increase in the income of the elite teams.
However, the proposed changes did not suit the giants, especially since they were planned to be introduced from 2024. In the face of a pandemic that has dealt a heavy blow to the football economy, elite clubs have decided to save themselves.
The Super League, according to the statements, has found funding for itself – the general sponsor, JP Morgan Bank, will invest 4.6 billion pounds in the tournament. More than 3 billion pounds are planned to be divided between the founding clubs “for development”.
The organizers are confident that the interest of the audience will cover all costs.
“A project based on vested interests”
What will happen to Russia if the project is implemented? We are unlikely to be invited to the Super League. The maximum that our country can count on is one “guest” place, and it’s hard to believe in getting it.
In general, most European countries are destined for the fate of poor relatives who will play in secondary tournaments, the audience interest in which will gradually fade away.
And the Superleague can deprive European football officials of both money and power. That is why UEFA is mobilizing national leagues to urgently suppress the insurgency. And this is actually done in the spirit of the famous “Tiananmen Square”.
“If this happens, we want to emphasize that we – UEFA and all the above-mentioned European federations and leagues, as well as FIFA and other members – will be united in our intention to stop this cynical project; a project based on the vested interests of several clubs at a time when society needs unity more than ever.
We will consider all the measures that are available to us at all levels, legal and sports, to prevent this. Football is based on open competition and sporting merit. He cannot exist in any other way.
Clubs will be prohibited from participating in any domestic, European championships, as well as on the world stage. Their players will not be able to represent the national teams, ”UEFA said in a statement.
There is, of course, an anecdotal moment in this – UEFA accuses professional clubs of selfish interests. It’s like declaring Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messithat they receive fabulous salaries while children are starving in Africa.
But the essence is clear: officials are ready to go to the most extreme measures, just to prevent the start of the Super League. They want to deprive the players of the rebel clubs the right to play in any tournaments under the auspices of FIFA and UEFA, including the European and World Championships. In addition, UEFA wants to sue the grantees for 50-60 billion euros. Moreover, sources claim that officials are ready to stop the current Champions League by declaring the winner of the French “Paris Saint-Germain”, who did not join the rebellion.
Of course, such methods of solving problems bear little resemblance to democracy and are rather similar to totalitarianism, but, as they say, in war as in war.
And the threats seem to be working. In any case, the press release of the Italian Juventus looks somewhat confused: “The founding clubs will make every effort to implement the Super League project as soon as possible, but at the moment no one can guarantee that the project will ultimately be successfully launched, or predict exact timing of the project. Accordingly, at the moment, no one has all the necessary elements for a detailed assessment of the impact of the Super League on financial and economic conditions and results. ”
Russia doesn’t care. Our “giants” have neither strength nor ambition
Perhaps the top clubs, with their scandalous move, are again trying to force UEFA to be more compliant? But the “Aurora’s shot” turned out too loud: the participants in the revolution will not be able to play back without losing face.
And the temptation is too great: before our eyes is an example of financially successful North American leagues, as well as the men’s basketball Euroleague, which for many years has been functioning on principles very similar to those offered in football.
And even if UEFA gains the upper hand this time, the trends are unlikely to change.
Russia, by and large, does not care – our self-proclaimed “grandees” are losing not only to the European elite, but also to the middle peasants. Mentor of St. Petersburg “Zenith” Sergey Semak recently, in an interview with Sport-Express, he said: “The Russian Championship is much more important than the Champions League playoffs. To win European competition, you need to be stronger. Of course, leaving the group is good. But this is not a title! “
With this level of ambition, it is just right to create not the Super League, but the League of “the first guys in the village”. And most importantly, UEFA will definitely not interfere with such a project.