Tuesday, April 20, 2021

NOT SO SUPER – How out of touch owners have badly miscalculated their fans gullibility.

There’s going to be a super league for UK and European that no one asked for. As astounding an example of hubris you are likely to see even by professional sports standards, a select group of very wealthy team owners are set on establishing a football (soccer) version of the National Football League in Europe. This “league” will be walled off from the rest of football and, it is assumed, will suck away a great deal of cash which otherwise would have gone to support all European football. Presumably these rich clubs, including Manchester United which I’ve supported since birth, believe they should be making far more money and should not have to share with others. Currently, cross-European football competition is governed by UEFA and the two primary European competitions generate both excitement and needed revenues for all teams not just those competing. Participation in these league competitions is dependent on the success of a team’s domestic play.

The new ‘super league’ will put paid to this structure and enable a small number of mega-teams (plus invited guest teams) to play year after year in a pseudo competition without the risk of dropping out each year. The US National Football League is the target environment which these out of touch club owners are seeking. A walled garden where clubs never have to worry about dropping out of the money stakes and where they can control team numbers, employee contracts and broadcast and image rights.. Allowing European teams to create their own super league would be a first step in creating an NFL-like business which is also protected from certain anti-competitive laws and is basically a legal cartel. Some of the current UK team owners are very familiar with the warped nature of American sports ownership and must look dewey eyed on the benefits accruing to NFL team owners.

In the short time since this ‘super-league’ idea was announced, fans across the country have voiced opposition to the idea; and this opposition is coming from true diehard loyal fans who see the fix is in. As much as all of us hate to lose games to any team, we live for the excitement, the anxiety and the glory which is football. Team pride is having your team strive all year in their country league to be able to compete with the best teams in Europe. This ‘super-league’ fails both the teams excluded as well as those included. I do not want to see my team playing FC Porto or Athletico Madrid (or Arsenal for that matter) year after year in a glorified exhibition tournament.

The owners have badly calculated. Opposition has come fast and furious from the authorities at UEFA, the Football League and even (sigh) Boris Johnson. If these clubs go ahead with their plans, they risk being kicked out of domestic competitions and their players being excluded from national team selection. I hope this doesn’t happen and I also hope the league authorities don’t seek to ‘negotiate’ with these break away teams to assuage them in some fashion. They don’t deserve it. On the bright side, perhaps this will create room for other less selfish teams. Just up the road from my Grandad’s place is Salford FC which is owned by some ex-Manchester United heros. The Salford team kit is red like United and this might just do for me, and the way they are going they may be in the Premier league soon anyway.

No comments: