Image courtesy of Wales Online
By Jack Cherico
On Sunday, April 18, some of Europe’s best football (soccer) clubs, including Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Manchester United, announced that they would be making a new European competition, dubbed “The European Super League.” This news outraged fans and had them questioning their loyalty to their favorite clubs. On paper, the best teams in the world playing each other every week seems like a great idea and cultivates new rivalries. However, there are many reasons why ESL is a terrible idea and infringes on the beautiful game. On Thursday, April 20th, the prominent English clubs, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur, backed out of the Super League due to backlash from their fans.
For those who have not seen the ESL’s proposal, the 12 clubs across England, Spain, and Italy are the founding fathers, with more clubs to be named in the future. England’s big six had committed to the project, along with Barcelona, Real and Atletico Madrid, Inter and AC Milan, and finally Juventus. These clubs are set apart from the rest of Europe due to their massive financial backing, huge fan bases, and extensive histories. The clubs mentioned above would not be able to participate in UEFA’s (The Union of European Football Associations) Champions League, which has been the leading European competition since the creation of the European cup in 1955, rebranding to the Champions League in 1992. The founding clubs will be paid a combined 3.5 billion euros upon entry to the league, further contributing to the money-driven nature of the new competition.
Once the news dropped, fans took to social media to express their opinions on why this is a bad idea, and they can be organized into two main categories. These are football becoming a business, and loss of excitement associated with this change.
To start, football has already become a business to an extent; the best players usually join the best clubs anyway. There is a vast wealth gap between the top of the Premier League (England’s highest football league tier) and the bottom. According to Forbes, the current league leader Manchester City is worth 4 billion dollars and is owned by Sheikh Mansour, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. This evaluation compared to Sheffield United, who are at the bottom of the league, which was evaluated in 2019 to be worth anywhere from 120 to 140 million dollars. The creation of the ESL will only make this wealth gap bigger and convince even more players to only play for ESL clubs because there is no chance of any higher tier of football competition without them.
Secondly, suppose the top clubs are not putting any effort into the Domestic League and are automatically placed in European competition because they are a founding club. In that case, there is no excitement, and what makes football so much fun has now been lost. For example, the current format in the Premier League is the top four teams in the league can participate in the Champions League, currently Man City, Man United, Leicester City, and West Ham. Under the ESL format, Leicester and West Ham would be competing for nothing because they are each 18 and 19 points from the city and can’t win the league, and they would not be able to participate in a higher tier of football. If the big clubs were to play each other more often than they already do in the Champions League, everything unique about them would be lost.
Even players took to social media to express their disgust with this decision. Former Real Madrid and Spanish national team center defensive midfielder Xabi Alonso said on Twitter, “lived it. Loved it. Farewell beautiful game.” As one can see, the most dedicated fans in the world were not going down without a fight, and due to the immense amount of backlash, the idea of the European Super League was scrapped. Hopefully, this teaches football’s governing body not to put the wishes of the fans behind the financial gain. As we know it, Tuesday, April 20, was the day the fans saved football.