The European Super League Returns!

Tuesday, 9 January 2024

Almost three years ago, the European Super League was seemingly scrapped. An overly commercial, breakaway competition for the self-appointed elites of football wasn't well favored by fans. 

After witnessing the reactions, many of the league’s founding clubs withdrew and the talk of a Super League appeared relatively quiet- until now - 32 months later, like an unwanted, re-gifted present it has returned. This time, it comes with a new structure consisting of ‘Star’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Blue’ competitions, a catchy motto “The best clubs, the best players, every week” and the backing of global football figures like Real Madrid manager, Carlo Ancelotti, could this iteration of the ESL be successful this time?

Probably not. Just like it was three years ago, the league has come under heavy fire. Fans don’t want a closed, money-making competition, guaranteed for the elites and out of reach for the rest. 

Here's what some Rovers fans that I contacted had to say: 

“A bad decision for football overall”

“Takes away from the leagues that have been in place for 130 years”

“Increases the gaps between ‘top clubs’ and the rest of the leagues”

“Could put strain on the top players that are already playing loads of games”


Even though the new structure is an improvement from the last, it still has its faults. A new design consisting of three leagues for the men and two for the women, includes promotion and relegation. With this comes chances for different clubs to work their way up the footballing ladder. The top league being the ‘Star’ league and the bottom being ‘Blue’. 

It has been described by Super League partner, A22 Sports, as:

“Based on sporting merit, with promotion, relegation, and no permanent members”

Although at first glance this may seem more appealing than its prior efforts, when 87.5% of the ‘Star’ group return each year “no permanent members” starts to lose its charm. Unlike the UEFA Champions League, the fact of remaining in the league for the next campaign will haveno relation to a team's performance in domestic leagues either. In my opinion this would very quickly become a closed competition for the elites. 

Currently a conflict is growing between Champions League organisers, UEFA, and The Super League’s, A22 Sports.

#earnitonthepitch”, a slogan posted by UEFA, is growing in popularity across social media. Its intention to belittle and crush any idea of a Super League, by reminding us of the fact that “football is for everyone”.  


(Source: @UEFA on X)


One factor that may twitch the ears of a few footballing fans is the proposal that every ESL game will be streamed for free. Real Madrid manager, Carlo Ancelotti demonstrated his support for this saying, “I’m convinced it's positive for everyone”. 

(Source: @theathletic.com)


Whilst this initially may sound entertaining, how quickly would this become boring?

Now, of course it would be great to watch the ‘best’ teams battle on the pitch very regularly, but could this overshadow the atmosphere and excitement we get currently from the less frequent English league derbies?


English Clubs and the Super League

UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak talks of putting forward plans to prevent any EFL clubs joining “breakaway competitions”. New legislation called “The Football Governance Bill” will have the force to block all professional English clubs from external leagues meaning it is highly likely no top-flight English teams will ever be members of the Super League. 


Could the ESL still affect English football, even with the introduction of the new legislation?

With Saudi money already hoovering up players in the Premier League, it's more than likely many of the top ESL clubs will be backed by this money too. 

Now what happens if all these clubs start to buy the world’s best players? Could the Premier League start to lose its current prestige as the best in the world? Without the best players, the top teams are no longer ‘top teams’. 

A reduction in quality in the Premier League could have costly effects; less TV revenue, decreasing attendances and smaller wages. It wouldn't just stop at the Premier League either. Less revenue means a smaller budget for the FA leading to a reduction in funds available for English football all the way down to grass roots football.


What would the Super League mean for Rovers?

Take a Wednesday kick-off at the Ewood for example. It's a rainy, miserable night in November and the number of fans going to attend the game is already small because of the conditions. 

Now imagine there’s a number of Super League games on TV for free at the same time. How many of those fans may be swayed to stay at home? Mix this with a decrease in the number of quality players available and less funds available to The Championship and the ESL could be highly damaging. 

Saying this, there is hope. A European Super League without English clubs would be like eating a sandwich without bread. The ESL needs English clubs if they truly want to stick to their motto “The best clubs, The best players, every week”. And assuming the new legislation continues and no English clubs decide to join, then I think the future of English Football is safe. 



*Zack is a college student in Blackburn, with aspirations to go to university to study journalism.  He will be offering up content to BRFCS who will coach/mentor him in order to help him to build his portfolio. 


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