It is now clear that the so called big six football clubs in this country (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs) are committed to joining a new European Super League.
Such a move eats away at the very essence of football in that you should qualify by competition for a place in European football and not be allocated a place based on your size and wealth.
Make no mistake this is a battle for the soul of football. The motives of these clubs are money pure and simple and more of it. I suspect it will be accompanied by a renewed demand to reduce the number of clubs in the Premier League from 20 to 18 to accommodate the additional fixtures such a move involves as well as threats regarding participation in The League Cup and maybe even in The FA Cup.
Against this background I thought it would be interesting to look at what English clubs are currently earning from their travels to Europe this season. Having reached the semi-final stage of the UEFA Champions League Chelsea banked £10.4 m for their quarter final win over Porto making the total earned to date some £79.8m. Fellow semi-finalists Manchester City are slightly below that at £76.8m. If Chelsea defeat Real Madrid in the semi-final and Manchester City beat Paris Saint-Germain each will earn a further £13m. If they win the trophy, they earn an additional £3.5m. In comparison Liverpool have banked £60.9m for their exertions this season following their exit at the hands of Real Madrid at the quarter final stage.
These figures will be petty cash when compared to the riches a European Super League will generate. It is reported that some US$ 5 billion has been earmarked to the project by USA banking giants JP Morgan.
One thing I am very sure of is that this will not be a popular move with football fans up and down the country. At a time when many fans are struggling financially because of the COVID crisis how on earth would they afford to see their team play other than on television. With it being a closed shop, it will not be long in my view before it becomes a sterile competition of little interest to the wider public.
Don’t forget also that the Premier League is the best league competition in the world and if that popularity is compromised the Super League will have a serious impact on more than just the six English clubs joining it. In sporting terms, it will no longer be a competition that you qualify for on merit but one you are invited into which compromises the very essence of sporting competition.
I sat at the monthly Premier League meetings for many years and there were regular debates around increasing the amounts paid to the so called big six. It is no coincidence you need to secure 14 votes to change anything at the Premier League. The big six don’t like that rule and never have. They have been appeased for a long time now with changes to the revenue distribution arrangements but now I say enough is enough.
UEFA and the Premier League and fan groups up and down the country need to take a firm stance. Drop these proposals or risk elimination from all football in this country, UEFA must not recognise this competition under any circumstances.
This as I said is a battle for the soul of football. As we have seen during the Pandemic football is nothing without fans and now is the time for everyone to stand together and despatch this attack on sporting competition into the waste bin where it belongs.
Peter Varney – Chairman, Integral Sports Management
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