Failed breakaway European Soccer League shows billionaires don’t care

By Mark Suchy || Layout Assistant

Early Monday morning on the East Coast of the United States, avid football fans (myself included) woke up from a dream…to a nightmare. 

News broke across the globe that there would be a European Super League (ESL) created to include 15 founding members and 20 teams. These teams are scheduled to compete in two divisions of 10, where the top four teams from each division qualify for a knockout stage, before battling it out to make it to the final round where a winner is crowned. 

The 15 founding members have no threat of relegation, are guaranteed a profit, and will most likely leave their respective domestic leagues to join the ESL. When news broke on April 19, the ESL had 12 clubs: AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham Hotspur. That is the entirety of the “Big Six” football clubs from the Premier League, the three giants from La Liga, and three of the current top four clubs in Serie A. The only two countries without representation from the “Big Five” leagues are Germany and France. 

The draw for the bigger clubs to abandon their domestic leagues where they compete to earn their Champions League bonuses and qualifications are obvious: the owners will be guaranteed a profit regardless of how their club performs. Reports from Sky Sports reveal that the initial signing bonus for these clubs is rumored to be upwards of $450 million, but could balloon to an astounding $3 billion by 2023.

You are probably wondering what the drawbacks are of the European Super League if it means the best clubs are competing weekly and earning top dollar to do it. The issue is the lack of relegation and domestic rivalry that will occur.

Tottenham Hotspur (the club I support) and Arsenal Football Club have been an absolute disgrace in the Premier League this season. As it stands, if the Premier League campaign was brought to a close today, Arsenal would not crack the top half of the table, and the Spurs would be outside of European qualification.

The funds that would be guaranteed for Arsenal and Tottenham in the ESL are instead going to West Ham, Wolves, Leicester City, etc. These “smaller” English football clubs have earned their seat at the table this season. They have proven to be better in the league than Arsenal and the Spurs, and are deserving of the monetary rewards that accompany that. 

If the ESL had been around in 2015, the greatest Cinderella story in the history of any sport never would have occurred. Leicester City was given 5,000 to 1 odds by bookmakers in Las Vegas to win the Premier League title. Led by Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Harry Maguire, and N’golo Kante, the Foxes outbattled Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, and Manchester City to complete the impossible.

The monetary rewards for winning the Premier League allowed Leicester City to reinvest in their training grounds, making $80 million in upgrades, hiring Brendan Rogers, and attracting new transfers. Because of 2015, Leicester was able to establish itself as an annual title contender. 

The jubilation experienced by Leicester City fans is not an isolated incident. All domestic leagues have relegation battles. This means that if ANY club in a domestic league finishes in the bottom three of the table, they are relegated to the second division, and have to earn their way back into the top flight. This makes the competition matter. It’s what brings rivalries between Leeds and Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool, Tottenham and Fulham, and so many others.

Football was made by the fans, for the fans. I am going to use Tottenham as an example because they are my one and only club and the team I know the most about. Tottenham Hotspur was formed in 1882 by a group of Cricket players who needed something to do in the winter—the club was an afterthought to a group of boys that wanted to stay in shape.

Now Spurs are ranked as the 10th most valuable football clubs in the world–worth an astounding $2.3 billion. They were created as an afterthought and now, as a result of joining the ESL, treat the rest of their fans like one. I am ashamed to be a Tottenham supporter. They are part of the group that is ruining this beautiful game—created by the poor, stolen by the rich.

Sophomore Mark Suchy is a Layout Assistant. His email is msuchy@fandm.edu.

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