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Brennan's brief The three reasons behind the Super League plan that threatens to take down world football


Fans hold up a protest banner against Liverpool joining the new European Super League

Fans hold up a protest banner against Liverpool joining the new European Super League

Fans hold up a protest banner against Liverpool joining the new European Super League

The proposal for a European Super League comes from three separate sources, and they have merged to form a triangle that threatens to take down world football, club and international, as we know it now.

First off, there is the poverty of Spanish football, off the pitch that is. Spain’s big three, Barcelona, Real and Atletico Madrid, are deep in debt, billons of euro in debt.

The latter has just built a new stadium, the other pair have spent years and years forking out massive transfer fees and salaries to some of the very best footballers in the world in their pursuit of silverware, think Messi, Neymar, Zidane, Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo etc, etc.

Unlike in the Premier League where TV rights are pooled, these three clubs raise their own money from television and, right now, there is no more finance to be raised from that source.

On top of that, Covid-19 has cut them off at the knees, with no gate income for more than a year, Barca and the Madrid clubs are hearing their respective banks scream ‘stop’.

The second source of this new league is the fact that three top English clubs, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, are owned by American businessmen.

The USA may be the land of the free and the home of the brave, the font of rampant capitalism. But its sport is avowedly socialist, where the weaker franchises are given the better young players at the end of every season.

Let me put it in an Irish context. Whatever county had the worst Gaelic Football team in 2017, possibly Waterford, Wicklow, Antrim or Leitrim, would have had their choice of the best minor footballer in Ireland at the time. It would, of course, have been David Clifford of Kerry.

Whoever was second worst could have had Galway star Tomo Culhane, or they might have taken the top Dublin prospect Ciaran Archer.

And that’s how American professional sport, football, baseball and basketball, works. You don’t have to invest in buying the big players, you are given them, free of charge, as a reward for being rubbish the previous season.

Nor can you be thrown out of a League, such as the Champions League, because you didn’t play well last term. Once you are in the club, you are in the club and you can only leave it by deciding to sell your property.

The last leg of the three-legged stool that is the planned European Super League is the world-wide streaming of matches. Forget TV rights, the big money is now in getting even a quarter of United’s estimated world-wide fan base of 150million people to spend €3 buying the rights to stream each ESL match to their table, laptop or iPhone.

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Rest assured too that when American supporters of Liverpool and Chelsea or fans of Real Madrid in the Far East begin buying these rights, they will demand that some games kick-off at time that suits them.

So we’ll have games kicking off at 10.30am to accommodate football fans in Asia, eight hours ahead, and you will have big games not starting until 11.00pm, just when US East Coast workers are finishing up and can watch the game in peace.

You can forget about TV subscription packages. Soon, professional sport will be consumed on your hand-held device and paid for match-by-match.

Such a model began to arrive a couple of years ago. The pandemic has held it back, but it will come back again. Probably by 2023 or 2024 at the latest.

That’s why we’ve got the European Super League and whoever wants to stop it had better come up with a better and, for the clubs who want to play in it, a more lucrative idea.

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Online Editors