The European Super League (ESL): The Good Side.

Introduction

“Passion won over money”, “Fans are greater than anything” was all over the headlines after the ESL was officially suspended on Tuesday. Over the last few days, football has suffered a never-before-experienced storm that shook the whole soccer world. The inception of the European Super League almost came as a bolt from the blue for football fans. As soon as they were accustomed to it, protests came in pouring against it from the fans and former players. It was largely due to the vastness of these protests that the clubs were compelled to withdraw from the ESL. But most of the fans only considered the bad part of it as was dominant in this case. All of them, including experts, failed to understand the future prospect of it which was planned by Florentino Perez, the president of the European Super League.

We at BTM give you a complete idea about the brighter sides of this project which could be progressive to football.

Developmental goals for the European Super League

The Super League consisted of twelve founding clubs and another 5 to be confirmed by previous performances in the domestic leagues. The actual number of founding members would have been 15 only for Bayern, PSG, and Dortmund to decline the invitation. It was going to be started by looking at many visions for the future. Here, let’s take a look at the various golden possibilities of the league.

1. Enormous Monetary Benefits

Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid was at the forefront behind the induction of the European Super League. This man is not only shrewd but also quite intelligent and reticent. The main purpose of starting the ESL was to make money during these difficult times of the COVID pandemic. The clubs have lost an accumulated amount of almost $2 billion in two years. Alone Real Madrid has incurred a loss of £650 M in the last year or two. This amount is quite staggering at a time when it’s hard to make funds because of matches being played behind closed doors.

There have been absolutely no fans in the stadium since August 2020 when football again restarted after the lockdown. It has taken a toll on the clubs as ticket selling was the biggest source of earning revenue for them. There were also various sources of income in those times that were stopped during the pandemic.

ESL AND MONEY

Perez mainly created the league to overcome the financial crisis prevailing all over Europe among the football clubs. He found a big Investor in the form of a US JP Morgan bank who agreed to provide funds for the project. The clubs would share a huge amount of £3.5 billion among them. Each club, upon joining the league, would receive £400M for improving their infrastructures. It indeed would have been a huge sigh of relief for the clubs who were reeling under huge losses. But the critics only saw it as a money-making league whose only aim was to earn money. They couldn’t see the big foresight of Perez in starting the project.

Another masterstroke Perez wanted to play by starting the league in respect of money was to boost the transfer market. The transfer market has plunged into a deep crisis because of the inability of the clubs to make big-money transfers happen. The clubs can’t be blamed as it’s the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has caused them to incur huge financial losses. Without the Superleague, the hopes of the transfer market’s revival seem a distant possibility to the clubs.

Perez also wanted to accumulate a good amount of money for Real Madrid to help them in their pursuit of Kylian Mbappe or Erling Braut Haaland. In this current economic footing, these transfers received a major setback. The European Super League would have helped the club to revamp their situation and return to the pre-COVID times. But with only Madrid and Barca remaining as the founding clubs, the Superleague is all but not going to happen.

2. Antagonistic to the Increasing despotism of UEFA

The second thing that led to the formation of the European Super League was the unfair policies imposed on clubs by  UEFA. The UEFA is trying to be like a dictator and govern the clubs without giving them the slightest of freedom. They are trying to keep the clubs in their pockets and make them listen to every order of the governing body. The UEFA failed to realize the actual impetus of the Superleague and that’s why they protested against it constantly. A champions league winner gets a sum of €82.4M this year while a participant in the ESL would itself get £400M. The modern-day problem requires modern-day solutions. So, by not only relying on the UEFA to increase the prize money for the clubs participating in the UCL, the big clubs tried to find a way out all by themselves.

The UEFA never cared about the financial condition of the clubs and understand what their actual situation is. This forced the clubs to break away from the traditional league and start a much more profitable league. In this present COVID times, the idea of making a cash-rich league does definitely make sense to tackle the financial crisis. And if the big clubs remain cash stripped, it would, in turn, have an effect on the domestic leagues themselves. No big player would agree to play in these clubs unless a large amount is given to them.

The leagues would lose broadcasting partners and people would lose interest in watching the games without some celebrity players. Football is losing interest from fans, TV rights are decreasing. Perez wanted to do the Super League, the pandemic has given the urgency, right now all are ruined in football. The others didn’t have this sense to understand the innovative ideas of the legendary president in this league.

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3. Opposing the NEW UCL format’s limitations

Another thing that Perez had in Mind while forming the breakaway ESL was the new format of UCL to be introduced from 2024-25. In this new format, certain changes to the present format are announced by the UEFA that will be started soon. Earlier, there were a total of 32 teams competing in Europe’s Elite league which were divided into groups of four. In all, there were 8groups consisting of four teams each playing the other three twice on a home and away basis. The top two teams from each group would automatically qualify for the quarterfinals and thereafter progress further on winning subsequently. It has been the tradition of the UCL over the past few years but it is going to change now of late.

The new format of the UCL will allow a total of 36 teams to take part in the competition. Under this, the participating teams will play a total of 10 matches with 5 being played home and 5 away. They will no longer play three opponents twice – home and away – but will instead face fixtures against 10 different teams. It means the teams have to go a long way through before entering the knockout stages of the league.

UCL AND ESL

The criteria for qualifying for the quarterfinals is that the top 8teams will automatically go through to the last-16 stage. The teams, placed 9th to 24th will engage themselves in a two-legged playoff played on a home and away basis. Those who are seeded between 9th and 16th will face the teams who are placed between 17th and 24th. Other than these 24 teams, all will be considered eliminated and will not have access to the Europa league even.

Undoubtedly, this new configuration brought in by UEFA was intended to be a  boon for the future. But Perez was quick enough to pointout the shortcomings of this and so he proposed a new upgraded version of UCL. The new format of UCL will see teams being involved in a longer competition and playing more small teams. But the main purpose of the UCL is to get the big teams involved in more frequent matchups against each other. One can see the rivalry of the big clubs with the small ones even in the domestic leagues. UCL is meant to provide more competitive encounters involving big teams as well as quality small teams. Otherwise, people would lose interest in watching the UCL.

Perez thought that though after playing such a grueling league, the clubs will not be paid a modest amount of money and would have to be happy with the comparatively less amount given to them by UEFA. In this present economic fiasco, if the football fans lose interest in watching such leagues, then football is destined to break down. It’s true that no one would be attracted to watching UCL if it’s turned into such a lengthy and less glamorous one. So the Real president thought of forming a league that would only include the continental giants playing against each other.

It’s indeed a great idea to catch the enticement of the football fans as well as to earn money. The comparatively smaller clubs can still play in the UCL while the heavyweights will compete in the Super League. It is actually a modified form of the UCL. Earlier the big clubs indulged in contests against each other in the knockout stages of UCL. Instead of it, now there will be a regular facing up of big clubs against one another. If we analyze it from a modern rationalistic point of view, then it’s absolutely a great future prospect. On one hand, it will provide money to the clubs to improve their infrastructures. And on the other hand, it will also live up to the fascination and decoy of the fans. Perez mainly thought of these benefits while forming the European Super League.

4. Raising Fan’s enticement

Perez always wanted to form a league that would involve more competitiveness among the teams. That wouldn’t have been possible in this present kind of competition. So he always cherished the desire to organize a league that would see only big teams playing against each other. It would sound weird for many. Even many people questioned that the small clubs are being undermined because of this league.

 But the main thing one has to think about is that fans are more attracted to the matches consisting of big teams. Whatever they say externally, all more or less see football mainly to watch the matches of top clubs. This forces the broadcasters to focus mainly on these matches. This would have resulted in large earnings for the clubs crippled by their present economic fiasco. Also, Perez had thought alternatively that while the top clubs play in the Super League, the smaller ones could still earn by playing in the coveted Champions League. They will still be facing the top clubs in their domestic leagues and would be caused no harm to them. But all looked upon it as a commercial move by him and never ever did think of improving the club’s conditions. The 15 founding clubs are the ones that matter the most in terms of entertainment.

This Super League is not for the rich, but it’s to save football. If this continues, football will disappear and by 2024 we would already be dead. This is the only way to save everyone: big, medium, and small clubs. If the big clubs are in good financial footings, the smaller ones would also definitely be in much improved positions. The money goes to everyone, it’s a pyramid. If those at the top have money, it goes to those below. Everywhere this same thing happens and it should have been understood by the football experts.

European super league and the fans

Conclusion

According to Perez,” When you have no income, only that from television, you understand that the solution is to have more competitive games. The most attractive games you can have in the world will fetch more money. We have decided that in the week, instead of the Champions League, we can have a Super League with more games”. It’s indeed an excellent idea by the present Real Madrid president. Truly if anyone would analyze it from a neutral point of view, one can see how much it is realizable.

In the present world of modernization, Football must evolve like everything in life. Football has to adapt to the times we live in now. We can’t sit back and hope for the older reforms to take us out of the economic crisis now. We can’t expect the comparatively small amount of money of UEFA to improve the condition of the big teams. They require large sums of cash to improve their infrastructure as well as to exit from this financial catastrophe. Everything required to improve them was in the proposal list of the ESL which is slowly becoming a past now.

We have to understand that every innovation in the world has its good and bad sides. If we only take into consideration the bad sides of it, nothing can progress. It’s true that the limitations of it outscore the benefits. But whatever there are the gains, we should grasp it. Nobody can deny that ESL had various glistening future advantages in the present times.  And to add to it, it has emerged only because of the intelligence of the great president. For the time being, Perez had dished out a great opportunity for the clubs to pull themselves out of the crisis. It is no wonder that participating in the ESL would eventually have resulted in the clubs being financially well-positioned. Now, It remains to be seen whether the clubs can pull themselves out of the pecuniary crisis without the ESL.

We hope for the best to happen and pray that football continues in its own fluent motion.

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