The proposed European Super League collapsed just 48 hours after it was announced Sunday. What happens next will really matter for soccer’s survival.
The European Super League suffered an epic meltdown Tuesday over the span of a few hours. Had this been a movie, it would have been like the baptism scene from the end of legendary mob flick The Godfather. As teams pulled out, one by one, from the ESL, the game has to now deal with the fallout from it all.
Chelsea got the ball rolling on teams pulling out, followed by the five Premier League sides Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal. With every passing hour and into Wednesday, they were joined by Italian clubs Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan, along with Atletico Madrid of Spain. The ESL was doomed.
The Super League was overseen by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who promoted it as a way to “save soccer” and the clubs struggling financially amid the pandemic.
Juventus, however, didn’t completely abandon plans for a future ESL.
“While Juventus remains convinced of the soundness of the project’s sport, commercial and legal premises, it believes that at present there are limited chances that the project be completed in the form originally conceived,” the club said in a statement. “Juventus remains committed to pursuing the creation of long-term value for the company and the entire football industry.”
Winners and losers of failed Super League
There are some winners and losers as a result of the fallout. The fans and UEFA, the governing body that runs the game in Europe, came out on top. The list of losers is led by arrogant elite club owners (including Americans with ties to the NFL like Stan Kroenke and Malcolm Glazer) who are used to spending lavishly on players and having their way.
What now? After the universal backlash, there will be some short and long-term effects after these crazy few days.
UEFA has tinkered with the Champions League and decided on Monday to expand it starting in 2024. The aim of those reforms was to appease the elite clubs who decided to abandon the UCL anyway.
Big clubs lose negotiating power
Europe’s big clubs can no longer hold the threat of a breakaway league over the heads of UEFA after the events of this week. A soccer revolution did take place, but not in the way the mega-rich club owners could ever suspect.
It now means that the big teams have to work with UEFA, not against it, to improve the game. They will have to learn to spend less and mind their finances. It will be hard for these out-of-touch owners, some of whom rarely even attend their teams’ games, to exert the influence they perceive to have.
Manchester United’s chairman Ed Woodward, for example, was among the ring leaders of the ESL plan who resigned as a result of the fallout. The trust in such men has been eroded.
Fallout will continue
There is still a chance that these original breakaway clubs could pay a price for their mutiny. But the Real Madrid and Man United’s of the world no longer have any negotiating power. It remains to be seen what happens next.
Will the medium and smaller clubs hate them more? Will the fans push for new ownership? What will UEFA and the respective domestic leagues do next? These are all good questions with no answers at the moment.
The last day has been about relief. The fallout could still be felt. For now, it’s a story with a happy ending.