European Super League Proposal

By Edward Soper, MANAGING EDITOR, and Arran Merrifield, CONTRIBUTOR
The European Super League (ESL) was a proposition given to Europe’s top footballing clubs that truly brought the issue of money in football to an all-time high. The ESL originally put forward by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez included a breakaway league from each club’s domestic league and a breakaway from the Europa League and Champions Leagues, which are long-established European tournaments.
This is in addition to the new Conference League that The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) was looking to enact in 2024. These would be Europe’s top clubs competing week in and week out in a league where there would be no relegation for the top-flight clubs with the competition similar to that of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) conferences with high-value streaming rights and cash prizes for the clubs who progressed the furthest in each competition.
The founding clubs include Spanish sides Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid, English teams Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur, and Italian clubs AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus. These founding teams would be joined by eight additional clubs that would qualify for invitations.
The development of the ESL came from the expansion of vast amounts of money in the sport where Champions League and Europa League football viewership had fallen. This is likely due to the paid subscription services scooping up these games and, in order to promote this new kind of football, only top-flight clubs from Europe’s top five leagues would be invited to participate without fear of relegation or consequence.
The top-flight clubs from Ligue 1 (FRA), Serie A (ITA), The Premier League (ENG), La Liga (ESP) and the Bundesliga (GER) organized into an MLS style competition that would pit them against smaller clubs from Europe who manage to sneak in through their respective leagues and Champions League. These smaller clubs would then be given the “privilege” to play these top-flight clubs. One of the many issues surrounding the Super League is the lack of domestic success from the founding clubs.
From a marketing and viewership point of view, this seemed like an excellent idea. The motion of the biggest clubs in Europe facing off week in and week out would be appealing to fans and could potentially bolster the skill level that is seen in these competitions, therefore clubs from Spain, Italy and England strongly came out in favor of support for this new ESL.
The founding clubs that sought to create the ESL did not consult the players, management, or the fans. This led to a tense standoff between the boards of these clubs opposite everybody else. Club legends and rivals have put aside their differences and rival fans have come together against this proposal. The support for the league only came from directors and owners of the founding clubs. In fact, every club that was invited in France, Germany, and Portugal strongly opposed this apparent takeover of European football and declined participation.
The domestic leagues of the founding clubs threatened to kick out any team that went to the ESL. The Premier League in England stated that any team that went would be relegated to the fifth tier of English football and would have to work their way back to the top. Banners were presented outside stadiums, Chelsea players were blocked from entering their home stadium ahead of their match against Brighton, Liverpool supporters burned shirts outside Anfield, and mass boycotts were planned by various fan groups and sponsorships. This fallout resulted in players and management getting involved and speaking out against the league.
In the end, one by one, each English club pulled out followed by the Italian clubs and Spanish clubs alike. It would seem that the fans, players, and lovers of the game have won. With the upcoming changes to European football in 2024, we may not have heard the last from the ESL.

OPINIONS

Edward– As a new soccer fan, I originally didn’t see the issue with the ESL. However, upon further research, I am very much against the idea. This competition would allow the clubs involved to rake in tons of extra money and dominate the transfer market, outbidding non-competitors for any player they wanted. I was excited to see that only one of my favorite clubs, Atletico Madrid, was included and even more delighted when they pulled out. The Europa League and the Champions League have both been Europe’s top competitions for clubs from across the continent and, while there are changes coming to both tournaments, they should remain the most prestigious. The ESL is, to say the least, an unfair advantage for teams that are included. In my opinion, it’s all just a heartless cash grab.

Arran– Being a Glasgow Celtic fan all my life it was difficult watching this unfold, we won a European Cup in 1967. Clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham have not and yet they are able to get into this ESL without relegation where we, a Scottish club like the Netherlands clubs; such as Ajax and Feyenoord have to fight through European qualifiers each year just to even look to be placed into the Champions league group stage, in a word it is a disgrace that this is where football has come too. Not only is it an insult to the fans but also the clubs who have had more success than clubs who can walk into this league and receive all the benefits. Yet these ‘Large’ clubs with some having next to no history get welcomed with open arms and I am glad that this has been scrapped and I am hoping that reform will finally come into Europe to allow a ‘smaller club’ to rise up and take that fabled trophy. To truly become a European trophy, the right way.