Agony instead of a plan
The fact that the leading clubs in the world are negotiating the creation of a European Super League, which would deal a terrible blow to the positions of UEFA and FIFA, was talked about for many years. Even the names of the main ideologists of the project were a secret. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, Juventus Turin’s top man Andrea Agnelli and Manchester United’s top manager Ed Woodward were the most interested in the new tournament. Surely, if Joan Laporta had returned to Barcelona’s management earlier, he too would have been on this list.
In any case, the Catalans were at the forefront of the new project and remain formally in it until now, when everyone else has disowned the Super League, except, of course, Real Madrid, because Perez was also the main speaker, acting as the savior of soccer.
But more about that later. The first thing that surprised me was that with such long preparations, even if they were not all substantive, the timing of the announcement of the launch of the project was unfortunate.
The Superleague was announced on Monday night, April 19, and the only real tie-in turned out to be UEFA’s announcement of the new Champions League format.
In doing so, Perez, Agnelli and Co. rolled out a completely crude draft. That it wasn’t ready was revealed in The Guardian, unearthing the fact that they began assembling the roster of founding clubs in the Super League three days before the release!
This speaks of a rush and a desire to just mess with the Union of European Football Associations. Obviously, in the minds of the ideologists of the Super League, the announcement of the launch of their project would almost knock out the current regulators of world soccer, shaking their position in the eyes of the community.
In fact, things turned out differently. It was against the Super League project that both soccer officials and representatives of clubs not included in the new eco-system, and fans around the world, and primarily the twelve founding teams themselves, and even politicians.
It turned out that usually calculating Perez and his colleagues went with sabers to the tanks, although they themselves estimated the balance of forces quite differently, as if on the contrary.
- But how was it possible to allow such a mistake and roll out a project in which 15 founding teams were announced, but in reality there are only 12 of them at this time, and from only three countries?
A project that has not been coordinated with anyone except for the only American bank JP Morgan, which is ready to finance the whole thing. The allocated $4 billion is a very solid sum, but it is not enough to implement the plans.
The Super League was supposed to have 15 permanent members and five rotating members, but no one had presented a scheme for how they would be selected. That scheme simply did not exist at the time of the release, because in his program interview the next day, Perez talked about how the Champions League would continue to exist, or that “we could create a second division in the Superleague.”
If we take apart the sports component deeper, there are even more questions. It is clear why the three vacancies of the “founding fathers” were vacant at the time of release. There is also the reason for the absence of teams from Germany and France: Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, and PSG simply refused to join.
Of course, things would have looked a lot more solid with this trio even with the other voids in the plan, but the refusals alone were foreseeable. “Bayern and Borussia play in the most structurally efficient national top championship of all and are in principle, although quite rich, but living solely on their means. In Munich and Dortmund, for example, they often look down on the Spanish giants or on Manchester City, which has violated financial fair play. They are not prone to adventure in principle.
As for PSG, it would be absurd to count on their support in the war against UEFA, given that the president of the French hegemon Nasser Al-Hellayfi is a member of the executive committee of the Union of European Football Associations, and the company he heads is one of the main partners of the Champions League broadcasters BeIN Sports.
- In addition, the eternal residency of English Arsenal and Tottenham and Italian AC Milan, in their current states of not being real superclubs, is highly questionable.
Also intriguing is the question of the organization of the matches, which no one has thought about either. What, for example, will the referees officiate Superleague games?
Let’s say Perez and Co. did indeed secure legal immunity from UEFA and FIFA encroachment on their tournament, but how would they get their referees? And if not them, who would officiate the world’s highest level meetings, people from the second leagues?
War Against All.
Both Perez and Agnelli, who have talked about the project more publicly than anyone else in recent days, have stated that the Super League is being created to save soccer, which is being destroyed by the coronavirus pandemic-induced financial crisis.
- And in doing so, they actually started a war with everyone in general. The ideologues of the project caused such serious negativity by the fact that they did not put anyone on notice.
They did not agree anything not only with FIFA and UEFA, where in general they were ready for dialogue, but also with the national leagues, which immediately felt threatened by the Super League.
No one asked the opinion of the fans, who are not only the nominal soul of the clubs, but also bring in a solid part of their income by buying broadcasts, tickets and paraphernalia.
What’s more, even the players of all 12 united clubs were not aware of what was happening and were outraged to the core, and therefore did not even think about the possible attractiveness of playing in such a tournament.
- In short, by turning the whole world against themselves, the usually successful soccer managers lost. Woodward, it seems, lost the most, since he lost his post at MJ, where he had worked for more than fifteen years.
Too many lies
Another important factor was the lies that accompanied the project in all statements.
For example, it was claimed that Bayern, Borussia and PSG were in fact not officially invited to the tournament, but journalists found in the code of the official Super League website a hidden release, and even a deadline for those very “uninvited” clubs to give their final answers.
It’s a small thing, but the organizers in addition manipulate the numbers, comparing their budgets and solidarity payments to smaller clubs not included in the tournament, with what UEFA is doing now, before the introduction of the new format of the Champions League, which will significantly increase the commercial component.
Financial nuances in general a lot, but the main thing that behind all the words about saving soccer and other nonsense about the important mission of the new tournament in fact hides the desire to save themselves, while from UEFA allegedly no help.
Indeed, all the top clubs were hit by the crisis, but Real Madrid, for example, which lost several hundred million, in the midst of it, arranged a massive and very costly reconstruction of its Santiago Bernabeu stadium, and is choosing in the transfer market between two of its most expensive lots – Kylian Mbappe and Erling Holland, thinking how to snatch both.
- The real goal of Superleague is not to save soccer, but to increase the profits of those who came up with this project. And everyone understands that.
European soccer will probably come to something similar, but the organizers of the Super League have already discredited themselves, so everything will remain in the hands of FIFA and UEFA, who are also far from perfect, but much more thorough. They won the war in three days, and it was won with little blood.