The question of how to and how much to punish the “rebel” clubs who attempted to form the Super League continues to linger, even as the news cycle moves on to other, more important topics, like social media abuse, racism, UEFA’s own problems with regards to their new Champions League format, and of course the football itself.
The tricky part of this situation is that unlike in most rebellions, it wasn’t the powerless who rose up to fight the establishment (i.e. UEFA). The twelve Super League clubs are twelve of the biggest, richest, and most popular — and thus most powerful — clubs in Europe. Punishing them too harshly (banning them from the Champions League, for example) would be akin to shooting oneself in the foot, and would not have the intended effect of discouraging them from trying another Super League move in the future. In fact, it would probably have the opposite effect.
And that question is even trickier in the Premier League. The Super League intended to replace the Champions League, not the various domestic competitions. While that move would undoubtedly have some sort of knock-on effect on the domestic leagues, how much of an effect it would have is debatable. No, it probably would not “murder” English football, as Gary Neville (and others) shouted from their moral high horse on Sky Sports, once the actual murderer of the old English football pyramid.
While there are some statutes against participating in unsanctioned competitions, at the end of the day, nothing actually happened, and extreme punishments might start looking an awful lot like thought-policing.
Some of the more likely punishments that have been suggested involve fines and points deductions — for example, having all six of the Super League clubs start with a handful points in the negative next season would probably create an even closer and more exciting Premier League — as well as less visible changes to the power structures involved in the actual running of the Premier League: i.e. giving more “power” to the 14 other clubs in terms of impactful decision-making.
And that latter is precisely what we saw happen late last week, when executives from Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Chelsea all stepped down from their various roles on Premier League advisory and regulatory boards. They include Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, who served on the audit and remuneration committee. Other executives are familiar names as well: Tom Werner (Liverpool), Ed Woodward (Man Utd), Ferran Soriano (Man City), and Vinai Venkatesham (Arsenal).
No Tottenham executive stepped down as no Tottenham executive had been part of any of the Premier League’s executive committees.
So far, this is the only bit of actual punishment that’s resulted from the Super League fiasco. It’s unclear if these roles will be filled by executives from other clubs, or if the committees will just become smaller. Either way, in theory, this gives the non-”Big Six” clubs more influence behind the scenes, though what practical effect it might have remains to be seen. Biting the hand that feeds remains a tricky proposition.