I confess that I don’t know exactly what the proposals were for the breakaway European Super League or who was championing it. All I do know is that like the 39th game idea, I was against it. As were, from what I could see, pretty much everyone within the English game. Despite such ardent support from other leagues around the continent, even the other top Euro leagues like in Spain and Italy, everyone connected to the lucrative and exciting Premier League and our envied lower leagues (this is unfounded and just my opinion, but why wouldn’t the rest of Europe envy our league structure and depth in professional football?) are against the idea of the crème de la crème in Europe having their own league on top of domestic games.
However after reading comments from an Englishman in Ukraine, I got to thinking why we were so against the idea and why other top leagues seemed to be so for it. Why couldn’t they see it’s a bad idea? Initially I put it down to the usual ‘Them vs. Us’ mentality that situations like the World Cup bidding had bought on. Then came Mr Joe Palmer’s, Executive Director for Strategy, Commerce & Marketing for Shakhtar Donetsk, words in the Evening Standard.
“The club have a perfect record after 14 games in the Ukrainian top flight but Palmer admits their domestic success is double-edged. ”One day we might play a side who are almost village standard, a few days later we might play the European Champions [they were in Chelsea’s CL group the season after Chelsea won the European Cup in 2012],” he explained.
“There is talk of a Russian-Ukrainian cup competition for the top sides in both countries and who knows what will happen the future.
“If people want more football and with top clubs so powerful, a European-wide league seems like a natural progression.
“Big clubs in small leagues need to apply themselves in tougher environments and, at the moment, there is no way of song that apart from in the Champions League.”
That last paragraph is what got me. That’s the reason why other counties are so open to the idea of a Super League as they don’t have the Premier League to test themselves in each week. We’re potentially going to be a big victim of our own success. Only in the Premier League could you get so many different teams in the top four/six (we regularly have more teams entering and going further in European competitions than any other country), so many big, big clubs relegated and so many professional clubs across all divisions. No other league can say they have no easy games throughout the season and mean it as much as we do. No other league in the world has what we have, that’s why they are open to the Super League. It will give them (at least their top teams) the chance to earn more revenue than they do now and play against the best teams in Europe on a regular basis. We already play against those teams week in week out in the league.
Yes these other countries will also be effected as their smaller clubs are in the same situation as our Championship clubs are in, in that they don’t have the chance (revenue/funds/stadium etc.) to make it into the group of elite teams and play in a Super League, therefore they will struggle even more with the divide that already exists in England between the top 6 and the rest of the Premiership, and also the gap between the established Premier League sides and those in lower divisions. However our Championship and Divisions 1 & 2 are much, much stronger than the lower leagues around Europe, meaning they all have the chance to at least establish themselves in the Premier League (Wigan, Fulham, West Brom, Stoke, Sunderland etc.), so a Super League would destroy this opportunity and affect our game as a whole more than those abroad.
It’s not ‘Them vs. Us’ in my mind anymore. It’s about protecting our way of football and working with other countries to strengthen their own lower leagues, not just teaming up with them to nick their best players.