I know I usually give you some tips or preview a big sporting event each week in this article, but I feel it is difficult to ignore the past few days in the world of football and the proposal of a new European Super League that now seems to be in total disarray.
Don’t worry! I will tie this in with some tips (chiefly for the Champions League semifinal ties coming up shortly) but this is an issue which would directly affect not just football at all levels across the globe, but would utterly change how betting would look on the many different competitions that teams are involved in.
Of course, when it comes to football betting, we always recommend bet365 Sport given the site’s excellent track record of good value odds, an outstanding range of markets and its varied promotions and offers.
However, had the European Super League come to fruition, then the likelihood is that all sports betting sites would have had to re-evaluate their betting markets and offers as the new league would have radically altered all aspects of football.
So, what was this all about, and why was it doomed to fail from the start?
The European Super League – An Unsurprising Development
As far back as 1963, World Soccer correspondent Brian Glanville commented that a European League was a financial certainty at some point in the future. In recent years, the top teams across the big leagues in Europe have become increasingly disillusioned with how the game is being run domestically and internationally.
Their argument is that they are the teams that bring in the big money from sponsors and that as a result, they should earn a bigger share of the financial spoils. However, FIFA and domestically, there has been a push to open up the game to more teams and to spread the wealth more evenly.
This of course, runs counter to the wishes of those bigger teams.
The fact that the ‘Big Six” in the Premier League saw their “Project Big Picture” plans so thoroughly dismissed by other members of the Premier League a few months back has also fomented further disenchantment with the Big Six feeling that they do not have a fair voice in the EPL, as the other 14 clubs can band together to outvote them on any key issues.
Add to this the financial pressures of the pandemic, and the UEFA proposal to expand the Champions League (further watering down the cash payments to all teams, but particularly those top sides) and there was a certain inevitability that something would happen.
That came over the weekend in the shape of the European Super League, with 12 teams agreeing to participate in this new competition, backed financially by J.P. Morgan.
What Were The Problem Issues With The European Super League?
It should be noted that it is not the fact that the European Super League (ESL) was a new tournament that caused the problems. We have seen new tournaments created in recent times, or older tournaments radically altered to a new format and generally these have been accepted.
What was different with this league was that The 12 founding members (plus three as yet unnamed other teams) would compete every year, alongside five teams that qualified for the event. The 15 founding teams would never be eliminated from the tournament and it was this ‘closed shop’ that so angered so many football fans across the world.
Football has always been predicated on the fact that if you are good enough, you can go all the way to the top of the game and win the highest honours available. The new ESL would replace that model with a replica of the NFL model, where the 15 founding members were effectively safeguarded against relegation.
That very principle runs counter to the ideals that football was founded upon and it was for this reason that so many fans, including of all the clubs involved in the ESL, were dead set against.
For organisations like the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, UEFA and FIFA, the issue was also a business one. They know that their competitions are better with the bigger teams involved, but by the same token, they needed to show strength and support of the teams not involved in the ESL. Which is why the ESL announcement provoked a furious response from all these organisations too.
With fans taking to the streets to protest and virtually every comment made by ex-players, managers and pundits coming out against the idea of the ESL, it quickly became clear that the idea was a non-starter.
ESL Shatters As Teams Withdraw
By Tuesday evening, just 48 hours after the announcement of the ESL, all six Premier League clubs signed up to the competition, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham, had signalled their intention to withdraw from it. Inter Milan, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are also primed to follow according to reports.
The ESL is dead in the water so it seems, but this is an issue that is far from over and the collateral damage from the incident could last for years and impact many of the top clubs around Europe for years to come.
Fan Groups Want Owners To Quit Clubs
On Twitter, a number of fan groups have been so angered by their clubs’ owners decisions that they have started a number of Twitter Trends seeking to gain support to remove the owners from the club. #Kroenkeout, #FSGOut, #JoelGlazerOut have all been trending on Twitter as furious Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United fans vent their fury.
Apologies from some club owners have been forthcoming since, but they do little to restore the fans faith that the owners have their best interests at heart. Many fans feel betrayed by the ESL saga and although it may have lasted just 48 hours, the repercussions are set to be felt in football for many weeks and months to come.
What’s The Situation Now?
For the time being, UEFA has confirmed that the Champions and Europa League semifinals will continue as planned but there are still calls from many for the 12-clubs involved in the ESL breakaway plan to be punished.
Whether they are, is a tricky one to resolve, as there is a risk of further alienating the biggest clubs in European football at a time when unity is required.
However, it is clear that negotiations are required to try and reach some kind of compromise between the 12 clubs and the football authorities domestically and internationally. Money talks and with all of these bigger clubs having massive global fan-bases, they know that the potential riches they can unlock are huge.
Finding the right balance between allowing these clubs part of what they want, without alienating other teams across Europe and in domestic leagues is the key, but it is a balance that is very difficult to find.
For now, Real Madrid against Chelsea and PSG V Man City will go ahead in the Champions League next week, with a Manchester City v Real Madrid final the favourite based on the odds. Similarly, Manchester United and Arsenal will play their Europa League semifinals against AS Roma and Villarreal.
Is a repeat of the Europa and Champions League finals both being contested by English clubs on once again, as was the case in 2018? I think that looks like a very good bet indeed.
Certainly a better one than the ESL.