The Rise And Fall Of The European Super League

 It doesn't happen much quicker than this! Sunday, the announcement is made that a new European Super League would be formed. By Wednesday, the idea is virtually dead, with all six English clubs now formally withdrawing from the idea.

European Super League - It's Rise and Fall

It's Sudden Birth

At the start of this week, the public were informed that a new European Super League would be formed, and that the top six English clubs had all signed binding contracts.

Almost immediately the announcement was met with universal condemnation. We didn't include an article in the sports section of our sister London business directory. Why? Because this was a knee jerk announcement that would hardly be the end of what has turned out to be a dramatic story.

Not only was the announcement met with almost universal outcry, but bodies, both political and Football related, started to threaten international bans for any player involved in the new franchise. In addition, the press were quick to publish any kind of story about how this was simply a move motivated by greed, and that it would destroy the game. The architects of the new league, however, told a story that was exactly the opposite.

What Reasons Were Behind This Move?

It would be simple to put the whole idea down to greed..too simple. Most of the UK clubs are run by companies who have been accused of simply running them to secure a profit. That may, or may not be true. If it were true, it would mean that their involvement in the league was simply a move to secure extra profits. However, as with most things, this was not quite that simple.

According to the organisers of the new league, their reasoning was that Football was struggling, and that their new league would reinvigorate interest by removing dull matches against inferior opposition, and having 'main event' matches every week, consisting of only the best clubs.

Whilst a lot of the financial flows were matters of conjecture, the organisers stated that income from the new league would benefit all tiers of Football...detractors state the exact opposite.

Is There A Precedent?

The organisers point to the success of similar models in the USA. However, perhaps the most relevant example in modern history occurred in Australia some years ago, and revolutionised a struggling

Having been owner of window cleaning Maroubra, and lived in Australia for many years, I was acutely aware of how a certain Kerry Packer revolutionised cricket.

With crowds dropping due to dull, and resultless 5 day matches, Packer saw the need for a new competition that would breathe life into the sport..or it would die.

As a result, Packer promoted a new type of cricket called 'World Series Cricket'. According to Wikipedia, WSC was a breakaway form of cricket, much like the European Super League was feted to become. Detractors called it 'pyjama cricket' and said it would destroy the values that cricket had developed over a hundred years. They said that it was motivated solely by money, and to some degree it was. Packer developed the new form of the game for his Channel 9 Television network, and to ensure greater financial security and rewards for players.  These stated goals are quite similar to the goals of the European Super League founders.

Packer's WSC was a success. It's revolution still greatly influences modern cricket more than 40 years later. However, like ESL, it had detractors, and bans. Undeterred, the reason why it succeeded was that the public backed did the players.

This is not the reaction that the European Super League received.

The European Super League's Poor Foundation

As mentioned, although Packer's WSC was successful, it received the backing of players and fans alike. The European Super League thought it could succeed without either of those.

By and large, most of the players were not consulted, neither did they approve. They learnt about it unexpectedly, and, at the same time, were confronted with possible international and domestic bans. Secondly, the fans, whom the organisers thought would back a new and exciting league, almost universally threatened revolt..removing cherished banners, blockading stadiums, and crying loud...and clear.

The organisers of the league claimed that the new league had 'binding' agreements. However, since authorities were also threatening sanctions against the league, legal action against any club that wanted out would be hard to pursue. And so it was. Bowing to increasing pressure, revolts, protests, and media bashing, Manchester City and Chelsea floated the idea of quitting the fledgling league, and then carrying it out promptly.

Because of this, in fact even with one no show, the league would cease to be viable. Having watched from the sidelines, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, and Manchester United soon followed suit. At this point legal action against anyone who left was near impossible, and the league's plans are collapsing rapidly.

The foundation of the new league involved secret meetings, and non-involvement of players, managers, and fans. This was a poor foundation to build this idea, and it lacked the professional and thorough approach of a modern day Packer. It's failure is testament to the failure of the organisers to do their homework adequately. 

It doesn't matter that the league would be a revolutionary change, Packer introduced something equally revolutionary...and succeeded.

However, when jobs are on the line, reputations are at stake, and billions of dollars are involved, a more thorough and solid foundation was an absolute necessity...and surprisingly absent.

Can The Idea Be Revived?

Of course, you can never say never. However, it will be hard for certain individuals to come back from this shambles, and many clubs will have tarnished reputations for years to come.

The idea is not necessarily a bad one. However, the logistics of it's inception were so bad that it would take incredible odds for anyone to safely wager that we will see this idea again, any time soon.

The time that will elapse before a similar concept is realised will be testament to the failure of those backing this league to do the necessary build public support...and to involve the players, managers, and authorities in building momentum.

Can The Idea Be Revived? Possible But Extremely Unlikely