There is an animal in Greek mythology called a hydra. When one tried to slaughter the hydra by cutting off its head, two grew back in its place. The European Super League feels a little bit like that. Two years ago, when the proposal was first made it caused anger, outcry, and among the broadcasters and current competition licensors, a vast array of hypocrisy. Ben Broadbent considers how the competition is attempting to rear its ugly head once more.
Back in April 2021, Sky Sports put their entire Monday Night Football coverage live on their YouTube channel for free. It was the first and only time they ever did this, and the programme was dedicated to denouncing the Super League.
This time there seems to be less anger, though from what I can tell there is general discontent. Maybe it’s because the clubs haven’t announced that they will be taking part just yet. It also could be the case that some people have grown on the idea, especially those who support clubs outside the Premier League, whose spending power compared to the rest of Europe is vastly inflated. Or potentially there is a sense that this is inevitable. The amount of money available to clubs, and the huge investment backing certainly supports this idea. Furthermore, the focus of this league is not on the season ticket holder for 20 years, it is TV rights, advertising money, and potential for commercialisation.
Real Madrid, especially club president Florentino Perez, have been one of the biggest supporters and backers of the Super League. Speaking on his podcast, Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos said, “I think we will see the Super League. And I believe so for several reasons … The idea of the Super League has changed and deserves to be heard.”
Just 26% of people voted that it would never happen
Whether or not this is true in the eyes of most fans remains to be seen. The Athletic, who have covered the topic in great depth, ran a poll surveying fans’ thoughts on the likelihood of a ‘Super League’. In it, just 26% of people voted that it would never happen. I voted for ‘In the next 10 years’, as did 39% of the voters. Clearly, many agree with me that some form of Super League seems inevitable.
There are plenty of potential reasons for this, but the one outstanding and most likely explanation is pure greed. Investors and club owners see an opportunity to run a competition outside the restrictions of UEFA and FIFA. These clubs will increase their profits significantly, there is no doubt about it, and they will do so by offering an exciting product. If we’re honest, many of us will be drawn into watching the Super League, even if we are fundamentally against several aspects of it. Most of us watched the World Cup in Qatar, didn’t we?
However, the ramifications will be huge and the exploitation of fans, something that has been going on for years, is terrible. As a fan of a lower league club, even promotion to the Championship is a daunting prospect because of the huge financial discrepancies between League 1 and the Championship, thanks largely to the abundance of riches in the Premier League and the existence of parachute payments.
We would likely see more Bury’s, Bolton’s, and Portsmouth’s in this world, not less
If these clubs break off and form a Super League where the money they earn is not regulated, this gap in football pyramids across Europe will grow. We would likely see more Bury’s, Bolton’s, and Portsmouth’s in this world, not less. That’s a scary thought, not only for the fans of the clubs, but for people’s jobs too.
Football fans are so passionate that many will do anything it takes to watch their team play, travelling thousands of miles over a season across the UK. Whilst away ticket prices are capped at £30, there are often memberships, or season ticket requirements to buy them.
Home tickets are much worse. For the cheapest Spurs tickets, an adult has to pay £30, and prices rise incrementally up to £80 for a seat. You also must buy a “One Hotspur” subscription, the cheapest one available which only gives you access to some of the less sought after games, is £43 per year. Putting access to tickets behind a subscription package inflates the price of the tickets, especially for many fans who can only go to a few games per year.
This type of exploitation will only get worse, and the Super League is an example of it. It is symptomatic of owners who care far more about their bottom line than running an institution, a club, supported by millions around the world.
Club owners run a very real risk of losing the passion from their stadiums
Can we fix it? Or stop it? I have no idea. Last time people were furious at their club owners for going behind their backs, this time there seems to be more apathy and general acceptance that there will be a Super League sooner or later. Who knows how interesting football will be when there is no real threat to “big” (rich) clubs. Club owners run a very real risk of losing the passion from their stadiums.
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