Proposals for a European Super League have sparked mass outrage across the world of football, players and pundits alike, but can it be stopped?
A blanket statement was released on Sunday 18th April between 12 clubs, announcing that they had agreed to break away from the Champions League to start a newly reformed tournament.
This has received widespread criticism for its lack of empathy towards supporters that attend matches on a weekly basis and with its primary objective of simply making money as opposed to thinking about the principles of the game.
In the statement itself, the pandemic was blamed for the accelerated “instability in the existing European football economic model,” adding that the need for providing higher quality matches will present additional financial avenues.
Amazingly, you have to scan to the 15th paragraph before there is any mention about fans and what their aim is to provide to them. AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as the “founding clubs” of the European Super League (ESL).
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the leading political figure that showed his disdain towards the plans, telling Sky News that they were “very damaging for football,” adding that he would work closely with authorities to ensure that it doesn’t go ahead in its current form.
Can it be stopped?
Technically yes, the ESL can be prevented from going ahead although it may end up becoming a messy legal battle that could take many months to resolve. That being said, the 12 clubs concerned are already taking that step to ensure that they cannot be stopped.
But if the troublesome dozen fail in their mission, what can be done? Here is what we think could happen to keep football as we know and love it.
Changes to UK law
This would pass easily through parliament as both political parties have backed legislation to prevent the English clubs from breaking away from the current football pyramid and joining a new league.
At this stage, it remains unclear as to what the details of the new law would contain and the duration of time it would require to pass through the House of Commons. Using a footballing model similar to what they have in Germany could be significant - ensuring that fans are guaranteed a majority of shares in a football club.
This may prevent overseas investors from coming to the Premier League in the future but as long as it prevents the European Super League from going ahead - so be it.
Removing TV rights
This will hurt clubs the most as they receive eye-watering amounts of money from the seismic television corporations for global viewing across the world. Both Manchester United and Liverpool are arguably the two biggest players of the broadcasting game and are responsible for a huge segment of revenue that is accumulated each year.
One way to do this is by altering Ofcom regulations, which could see games moved to free-to-air channels such as BBC and ITV, rather than to subscription television packages.
Again, this could be a lengthy court battle - even though the likes of Sky Sports and BT Sport released statements suggesting they want no part of the ESL. But it could dramatically change the direction in which football is currently heading in.
Fans are currently not allowed in stadiums due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic - part of the effort to reduce the spread of the virus. There has been plenty of whispers for some time that the turnstiles will be opened next season to welcome supporters across the country back.
Of course, the Government will have no control over this but the power of the people could be a move that will make these owners stand up and take notice. Nobody wants their club to be seen in a negative light, but this effort from supporters could smear their brands for decades and lose more revenue than they did during the COVID-19 crisis.
Obviously, clubs would be unable to take legal action as fans would be voting with their feet, coming together as one and standing up to those that are trying to take football away from them.
Denying UK work permits
This is more of a last resort - but could make those clubs think twice about leaving the current football pyramid in England.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was furious with the announcement of the European Super League and stated that he would open a fan-led review into their move. One backbencher from the Labour party suggested the idea of preventing work permits from being granted for overseas players coming to the UK.
This move would essentially stop those teams from signing football superstars on huge contracts, which is one of the reasons why the Super League was proposed.
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