No To The Super League


Steven Virtel

During the evening on April 18, 2021, the world of soccer was rocked by a proposal labelled the “Super League.” This break-away league threatened to forever modify the landscape of European soccer, widening the already large financial gap between soccer’s large and small clubs. A proposal that seemed inevitable on April 19 was deemed dead on April 21. So what is the Super League, and how did it fall in only 48 hours?

The Super League was a proposed league that would consist of 15 “founding clubs,” which are clubs who would compete in the league every single season (with no fear of being relegated from the league as a result of bad performances), as well as five clubs who would be invited on a year-to-year basis based on their results in their domestic leagues. The plan that broke the internet on April 18 had 12 founders. These clubs were the biggest in the world, and consisted of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter Milan, and AC Milan. 

The intention of this Super League was to replace the Champions League, a midweek competition that features the best clubs across Europe. This would allow the teams competing in the Super League to also concurrently play in their domestic leagues (example: the six clubs in England play in their domestic league called the English Premier League), which mainly play on the weekends. However, this part did not go as planned. The domestic leagues announced that the teams who would participate in the Super League would be kicked out of their leagues. 

So why is this proposed league so harmful? The creation of the league boils down to two factors: money and power. The idea of the league is almost identical to that of the Champions League, except all risk that is associated with competing to qualify for the Champions League would be stripped away. Qualifying for the Champions League brings a very large amount of money to a club. This money is used to pay their superstar players insanely high wages and to pay the transfer fees needed to acquire world class talent. These things are much harder to do when a team does not qualify for the Champions League. They do not have the money to pay the players, and are at risk of superstar players wanting to leave the club to go to a contender. This is the risk that the big clubs wanted to eliminate. They were guaranteed a spot in the Super League, where they would make upwards of $400 million just as an entrance investment. For the top clubs (who almost all are in debt), this offer was too good to pass up. 

This plan would ruin the sport. Why do the most popular teams get to change the rules and ruin the leagues in order to ensure themselves success? Having automatic admittance in this competition year-to-year ruins the competitive aspect of the Premier League. Winning the league is hard enough for the big six English Clubs, but for the other 14 teams, it is almost impossible. Only two non-big six teams have ever won the premier league since its formation in 1992 (Blackburn 1994-95 and Leicester 2014-15), so what these smaller clubs are mainly dreaming of is a top seven finish. The top four teams at the end of the season qualify for the Champions League, while the fifth through seventh place teams qualify for the secondary tournament called the Europa League. Qualification in these tournaments guarantees a huge money injection into the club, but it also serves as a serious achievement for the players. Qualifying for these competitions means these smaller clubs can potentially play Europe’s giants, which is a huge moment for the fans and players alike. This year for example, West Ham is currently fifth place in the Premier League with six games to play. If they can finish fourth place, they will play in a playoff to potentially make the Champions League next season. This would be a seemingly once in a lifetime moment for West Ham fans, and a moment that would be forever stripped away if the Super League came to fruition. 

However, the billionaire owners did not take into account one thing while planning the Super League: the fans. Across social media and in physical protests, fans’ frustrations regarding the league were heard loud and clear. Seemingly no one was pleased at this new system where the rich clubs were guaranteed a spot, while the poor clubs would fight to scrape by. Fans hung banners outside stadiums, they protested at the teams’ training facilities, and even stopped a team bus from arriving at a game. In England, the soccer clubs are the cornerstones of towns and of life itself. Support of a club is passed down generationally, and the fans are the pillar for which the club was built on. So when the billionaires at the top threatened to disrupt what the fans loved, the fans fought back. 

To a normal American sports fan who does not know much about European soccer, the Super League sounds awesome. It is all the recognizable names playing against each other every week. However, this league goes against every principle European Soccer has operated on since the inception of the English League in 1885. Any club, no matter the size, can reach the top flight and dream to compete in Europe. Clubs are awarded when they succeed, and are punished by relegation when they do poorly. No club is immune to a potential downfall, and no club is too small to get promoted. 

That is why 99% of soccer fans all over the world rejoiced when teams started pulling out of the Super League on April 20th. Not even 48 hours since the teams announced they were participating, they announced they were withdrawing (except for Barcelona and Real Madrid). They cited fan reaction as the reason for their withdrawal, showing that the fans still have a say in the world’s most popular sport.