The Super League dropped a bomb on the world of football on Sunday night, then promptly vanished amid the panic, surveying the wreckage from a safe distance, hidden from prying eyes and inquisitive microphones.
But last night, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, one of the ringleaders of this breakaway operation and who doesn’t believe UEFA have the power to ban teams for the rest of this season, hopped on Spanish television to explain his delusions of grandeur, as much as such things can be explained beyond just one word, “money”.
“We are doing this to save football at this critical moment. Audiences are decreasing and rights are decreasing and something had to be done. We are all ruined. Television has to change so we can adapt.
“Young people are no longer interested in football. Why not? Because there are a lot of poor quality games and they are not interested, they have other platforms on which to distract themselves. If we continue with the Champions League there is less and less interest and then it’s over. The new format, which starts in 2024 is absurd. In 2024 we are all dead.”
UEFA diluting its product even further while requiring even more commitment, time, and resources from the teams is certainly not helping.
Brian Phillips on the contradictory imperatives steering the future of European soccer, and how we as fans have chosen sides https://t.co/ZT7lTUaEWz— The Ringer (@ringer) April 19, 2021
And of course the massive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be overstated either — well, it probably can, given the way Perez is framing that part of his explainer — even if no one should feel bad for the millionaires and billionaires who own the clubs.
Brian Glanville, World Soccer, February 1964. pic.twitter.com/iQ7zdWjFqp— MikeCollett (@footballmc) April 19, 2021
Talks and rumors about a European super league had existed long before the pandemic, it just accelerated that process.
“Together we have lost €5 billion. In two seasons Madrid have lost €400m. When you have no income other than television, you say that the solution is to make more attractive matches that fans from all over the world can see with all the big clubs, and we came to the conclusion that if instead of having a Champions League we have a Super League we would be able to alleviate what we have lost.”
“What’s so attractive? That we play among the big teams, the competitiveness, to generate more resources? This is not a league for the rich, it’s a league to save football.”
What’s even more attractive than that are the hundreds of millions guaranteed to the founding members of The Super League, and not just in the first year, but presumably in the years following that. With those clubs thus able to control and directly benefit from their own broadcast rights and media, the idea is that they will be able sell this premium product at a premium price — after all, it’s the same principle behind the Premier League.
“If we reach an agreement with UEFA we want to start (the new league) in August, if not, we can wait a year.”
-Florentino Perez; source: El Chiringuito via Sky
Would the novelty wear off? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps the Super League can be established as a sort of Premier-Champions League? Many believe football as a whole to be trending that way slowly anyway. It is perhaps not at all surprising that UEFA are reportedly seeking a €6 billion investment to “overhaul” the Champions League, which would easily eclipse the €4+ billion start-up fund of The Super League, even.
| Perez: “They could also be a second division of the super league.”— JuveFC (@juvefcdotcom) April 19, 2021
Will any of this “save” football? Possibly. But whatever happens, it won’t be football as we know it.