Remember when the Super League existed? And then, quite suddenly, just as fast as it came, it didn’t anymore? Good times.
Except, not really. The entire Super League saga created unrest of epic proportions not just throughout the sport, but around the world. It was such an ordeal that the British Prime Minister, smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic, came out in opposition of it. For those who don’t understand the drama surrounding the Super League, here’s a quick synopsis:
It was a breakaway league formed by 12 of the most marquee clubs in the world. They explained their decision to create a different competition—that essentially blocked out other franchises—by noting that too many of the games in the Champions League were meaningless and people didn’t care about them. This is debatable, at best, given that hundreds of millions of people watch the tournament, and that you can check out any Vegas online sports betting site and see Champions League matches placed front and center in front of prospective customers.
Some won’t want to spend more brain power considering what the Super League could’ve been. It was kiboshed once six of the 12 clubs that signed on—Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham—abandoned the idea. But it would be foolish to believe this is the last we’ve heard about it.
Where Did The Super League Go Wrong?
Just so we’re clear, any sort of breakaway league would’ve ruffled the feathers of the Union of European Football Associations. They pride themselves on absolute control, and this was a rebel league in every sense of the idea.
Still, the Super League members could have done a much better job of communicating the genesis of their decision, and why it made sense. There was very little clarification on this front. The news just sort of broke, and there was no exclusive interview given aside from the one done by Real Madrid president and proposed Super League chairman Florentino Perez.
That absence of a concrete explanation—or even a coherent joint statement from the 12 founding clubs—paved the way for a stream of negativity. Fans felt jilted. The Super League seemed elitist in the worst possible way, a renegade league that was dumping all over a Champions League format, that despite its warts, is still cherished by hundreds of millions of fans around the world.
Egos have also been bruised across the business. The UEFA clearly isn’t happy, with certain members of the board going as far as to call the breakaway franchises “snakes.” Plenty of people have also claimed that creating such a closed-door shop actually violates laws currently in place. The clubs that were left in the Super League—Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid in Spain, and Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan from Italy—believe those allegations forced their six peers to wave the white flag.
Will The Super League Idea Come Back Around?
Some people might believe this is the end. But they would be wrong.
Just as the Super League couldn’t hope to move forward without half of its participants, the Champions League cannot afford to lose some of its bigger draws should the idea crop up again. That is the leverage these 12 teams have, and you better believe they will eventually exert it again. Very few of the flagship franchises are happy about the iron fist with which UEFA rules.
It isn’t quite clear what UEFA can do to assuage concerns, either. Expanding the Champions League by four teams, as it has done, might help. But that doesn’t address the financial disputes. Most of the clubs that were set to participate in the Super League believe their television deals would be larger independent of the UEFA.
When there’s that much money on the line, the idea will always come back around. Perhaps the next version of Super League will have more aggressive funding. Maybe it will have a model set up that allows access to other clubs that weren’t initially involved in the proposal. Maybe it’s just the exact same idea, only this time all 12 franchises will act in unison and deliver the news in a way that won’t incite global backlash.
Whatever form it takes, you can bet the Super League won’t be dead forever.