• Elliott Peeters-Vanstone

This is a War on Football… AND IT’S LIVE: Breaking Down the European Super League

Shockwaves are being felt throughout the footballing world this week, as twelve of Europe’s top clubs have pledged to kickstart a midweek competition called the European Super League.

The money-driven Venture backed in excess of £3 billion by American bank JPMorgan has been regarded as a ‘criminal act’ against fans of the sport, as they essentially become priced out of the beautiful game.

News broke yesterday morning that the Premier League ‘big six’ of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham have all declared their allegiance to the ESL in a bid to ensure top quality fixtures are played regularly and elite sides recover financially following the coronavirus pandemic.

These sides will also be accompanied by European giants Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus and Inter with a view to add an additional three teams before the inaugural season begins.

Notably, Champions league winners Bayern Munich and 2020 finalists Paris Saint Germain are some of the big names to reject the proposal of the ESL at this point in time.

Bayern Munich chairman, Karl Heinz Rummenigge has squandered any hopes of being enticed to join the ESL by replacing Juventus’ Chairman Andrea Agnelli as European Club Association President following his resignation to join the European Super League.

FIFA and UEFA alongside respective national governments and footballing bodies are all currently lobbying for ways to halt the progress of the ESL and preserve the current traditional domestic calendar.

A joint statement was made by UEFA, the Premier League and other top European leagues condemning the “dirty dozen” on Sunday.

They said: “As previously announced by FIFA and the six Federations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.”

How is it going to work?

It is believed that the tournament will run with an eventual 20 team roster that will be made up of the 15 founding members and an additional 5 teams who will earn qualification through alternative domestic successes.

These 20 teams will then be divided into two groups of 10, who will face-off in home and away ties throughout the season.

They will battle it out to earn a place in the top 3 of each respective league to earn their way into a quarter final phase - A playoff between the fourth and fifth placed teams in each league will decide the last two quarter final participants.

The knockouts will then take place across two legs and culminate in a grand European Super League Final played at a neutral venue.

It is without a doubt that the ESL will act as a direct rival to the UEFA Champions League, but it will be run with a ‘closed shop’ mentality for the majority of its competitors. Thus, meaning that the 15 founding teams of the tournament will be eligible for Europe’s elite competition without challenge.

Igniting the War on Football:

It is clear that even in the midst of all the chaos, the entire footballing world seems to wholeheartedly agree that this decision has been an abomination. Football fans, players and pundits alike blame obscene levels of corporate greed for such a cynical project that clearly has no regard for the overall good of the game.

Despite this though, the key to the issue lies with the owners rather than the clubs, as they are following their own money-making mantras to ultimately convert the game into an even bigger cash cow than it already is.

One of the main issues with the proposed undertaking surrounds the way it will proceed to detach elite level football from the modern football pyramid that has been built upon for the past 150 years.

The move that comes as no surprise to many, will inadvertently create a concrete ceiling for everybody that isn’t within the ESL and therefore alienate them and ultimately be detrimental to football as a whole.

Financially, the game will become saturated within the elite level platform and undoubtedly not trickle down to national league levels and grassroots football. Thus, leaving the production system of players in complete turmoil.

Not only will elite football become isolated, but it will also become totally disconnected from the fanbases that love and adore them. Within the severe backlash on social media, it is clear to see that fans are sure that the sport is drifting ever further away from its history as the working man’s game and being shaped to appease those watching from their ivory towers.

Personally, as a football fan myself I can do nothing but hope that those in charge of our beloved clubs finally see sense and realise the damage they will cause to the game if they proceed with this appalling endeavour. However, I’m afraid my hopes will be in vain as sadly ‘cash is king’ in world football right now.

My biggest fear that lies within the entirety of this mess is that supporters will still watch it. Opinions aside, as fans we all want to watch the best players on the planet play and sadly Florentino Perez and Co. know this all too well. I fear if it isn’t English, Spanish and Italian fans that facilitate the ESL it will be the American, African and Asian markets that this competition will appeal too.

For now, the ESL is still in its infancy but following this morning’s axing of José Mourinho, it is clear that we must continue to set a precedent for what we want as a football community. We need superstar players and managers like Marcus Rashford, Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola to assert themselves in the debate if we stand any chance of denying the current inevitability of the European Super League transforming European football forever.

Written by Elliott Peeters-Vanstone