Why is the European Super League Needed?
Credit: Barca Universal
Despite fierce backlash from the football fraternity 1.5 years ago, echoes of a Super League still ring out loud in European football circles, with a new and improved format already being discussed, one the Super League hopes will satisfy the earlier groaning from football fans.
With nine out of the twelve founder clubs ditching the plans, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid remain insistent that European football is sick and needs a revamp, a Super League to cure it before it meets sudden death from UEFA, the sole proprietor over European football. But why?
The Super League thinks that European club competitions are currently not attractive enough and are not achieving their full potential. For any competition to thrive and prosper , new fans have to be attracted, something the Super League founders feel UEFA is ignoring, which they surmise will lead to the death of football.
At the Real Madrid Annual General Assembly, Florentino Perez, one of the brains behind the project reiterated that “young people are less and less interested in football” because they ask for a quality product that football doesn’t offer until the end phases of the Champions League.
A case in point is that young fans prefer other forms of entertainment to football and this has generally affected TV revenues of clubs hence rendering them helpless. While paid football subscribers have reduced drastically by 40%, other platforms and alternatives of entertainment like Amazon and Netflix have achieved enormous growth in subscriptions.
Florentino Perez hopes that with the creation of a super league, quality matches will attract prodigal young fans back to the stadiums and this will also have a positive impact on subscriptions culminating into TV revenues soaring. The Super League thinks that if UEFA increases the number of “inconsequential matches”, the fall of European football will be unprecedented.
The Super League also argues that the new proposed reforms by UEFA to existing competitions in 2024 will worsen the already precarious situation. Beginning from the 2024/25 season, UEFA plans to revert from the current 32 team group stage to a single 36 team league as UEFA president Ceferin tries to save a sinking boat and appease European clubs.
However the Super League think that this will make the dire situation worse as the number of matches will increase significantly from 125 to 189, something that will affect the product output of the players as they will be playing way too many games, which may lead to matches being unattractive as players tire.
The Super League asserts that the current financial model of football is unsustainable leaving most European clubs disgruntled hence making need for reforms inevitable. Controls on spending are insufficient and inadequately implemented especially on state owned clubs that are protected.
Financial Fair Play was introduced by UEFA to monitor and ensure that clubs would not spend beyond their means so that clubs would be sustainable and live within their means. However this is not the story as some state owned clubs fail to respect FFP rules by inflating sponsorship fees and spending far more than their earnings.
Some of the clubs have had either minimal or no punishment at all which has fueled their resurgence to breaking FFP rules as UEFA has relaxed its hand, a thing the Super League intends to enforce on all member clubs to ensure transparency and equality in modern football.
European clubs are not allowed to manage themselves at European level as they do in domestic competitions, something the European Super League would give to member clubs as they would have autonomous authority almost on everything. UEFA has been the sole football governing body of European club competitions for nearly 70 years.
“In Europe, governance resides only with UEFA, a private association sitting in Switzerland who is the regulator, gatekeeper and sole commercial operator of competition. No one can explain to me why,” said Bernd Reichart, CEO of A22, a company linked to the Super League.
A22 insists that member clubs have a bigger say in UEFA as they are the major “risk operators” since they cover all operational costs involved. Clubs have no voting rights in UEFA which has 55 members and are only indirectly represented by associations which have 2 of 20 seats on the UEFA committee. Clubs voices are suppressed and suffocated due to the minimal representation.
The Super League believes fan access to football either live or remotely, is becoming prohibitively expensive whereby subscription packages are highly priced in many countries to an unacceptable rate hence limiting potential new customers.
A case in point is Sky Sports which co-owns domestic rights to the English Premier League in the UK. The cost to stream all live Premier League matches for a season was under $645 but is expected to increase to $837 by the end of the year. To reverse this trend , the objective should be to generate more fan interest thereby helping to moderate subscription fees.
Solidarity payments made by UEFA are inadequate and opaque as measures have not been set up to monitor their progress at the grassroots level. UEFA is set to give out $134.5M as solidarity payments to almost 200 member clubs this 2022/23 season who are not participants of any organized UEFA competition. The UCL is set to take the lions share with $2bn, Europa League $465M and $235M to the Conference League.
The Super League also reiterates the inadequacy of investment in women's' football and physical infrastructure. Stadia and training facilities for both the men’s and women's' game across Europe are not up to world class standards and this also affects the output of players on the pitch.
The existing UEFA statues effectively forbid clubs from working together to improve the system. UEFA is a monopoly over European football yet clubs are supposed to be masters of their destiny.
UEFA statues articles 49 and 51 state respectively that UEFA ” shall have the sole jurisdiction to organize or abolish international competitions in European football directly or indirectly and no member associations may be formed without the permission of UEFA”, something the Super League believes do not comply with European competition law.
The brains behind the Super League project however believe that articles 101 and 102 of the European constitution are in favor of the new proposed league as they state that a private company from outside the EU cannot monopolize and prohibit free competition, something UEFA is trying to do. The Super League is super confident that the ECJ will rule in their favor.
The UEFA versus Super League ruling is expected early next year between March and April and this could determine the future of European football for years to come as the ripples of the ruling could designate who might or will be the master at the pyramid of Europe’s chief leisure cash cow.