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European Super League โ€“ When personal greed destroys sporting value

Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward is a supporter of the European Super League
Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward is a supporter of the European Super League
Mark Pitman
EXPERT COLUMNIST

The reality of a European Super League moved a step closer on Sunday with reports of an impending announcement that would destroy the sporting integrity and merit that has been the cornerstone to football becoming the most popular sport on the planet.

It is said that money is the root of all evil, and that is very much the case as the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, Arsenal, Liverpool and others declare their support for a motion that will effectively ring-fence their status at the top of the European game, and the riches that come with such a position.

A proposal to rival the UEFA Champions League, it is not the first time that UEFA have had to expand their flagship club competition to neutralize the threat of such a breakaway, but it seems that even their plan to increase the number of teams and games in the competition from 2024 is not considered to be enough for those leading these rebellious clubs to a new world.

Of course, cash is the central objective behind the European Super League, and the biggest fear for clubs that compete in the Champions League on a regular basis is that one day they may not. It is that element of competition that is the catalyst to sport, while joining the European Super League ensures a permanent place at the top table.

Let the rich get richer

Bayern Munich celebrate their UEFA Champions League success last year
Bayern Munich celebrate their UEFA Champions League success last year

From a business perspective, it appears a win-win situation for the clubs that wield enough power and influence to be involved. Without the threat of relegation, a steady income stream from playing against the teams challenging to be the best in the world each and every week looks a guaranteed earner, and dismisses the smaller clubs who currently generate income from competing against their powerful rivals.

For the biggest clubs, these smaller entities are nothing but a parasitic bleed on their status. Smaller clubs make money from competing against their big name opponents, and it is this charitable mix of fixtures that those behind the breakaway proposal wish to leave behind. An elitist league is what they desire, and they have the financial power and status to command it.

Manchester United defeated Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday
Manchester United defeated Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday

So let them have it. Let these financial giants of the game try and get even richer. Let them compete against each other in a battle for financial supremacy, as sporting success will become secondary in a league without promotion or relegation. An egotistical competition between owners and the nations they represent, the club name and tradition will quickly become nothing but a front for each oligarchy.

Make no mistake, the modern game at the highest-level is not a million miles away from the European Super League proposal. Success is bought by plutocracies, but the fundamental elements of sport remain in that dreams of reaching the top can become a reality, and that even the paupers that dare cross paths with these powerhouses can also have their day.

Without that chance of a shock result, the true beauty of football - the magic of hope and belief against the odds - is replaced by a game played out on balance sheets rather than grass. The big clubs enjoy their current status because this is the environment which has made them. Take away the diversity of competition, and you're left with a stale and stagnant league, where results become irrelevant.

Custodians with no respect for history or tradition

The club owners who are pushing this European Super League proposal forward are figures of talented business acumen, and it is that mentality that fuels this ideal. While their ownership contracts may state otherwise, they are in fact nothing but custodians of each respective institution, with the clubs they represent forged through years of history and tradition.

These owners do not respect the clubs they represent. By pursuing the European Super League, they are taking their respective clubs towards a terminal destination. The great histories and traditions of these sporting institutions will come to an end under their command. Their only success in the future will be financial.

Players like Lionel Messi at Barcelona are seen as the attractive investment of a European Super League
Players like Lionel Messi at Barcelona are seen as the attractive investment of a European Super League

But football in its traditional form will continue without them, and in the long-term, it will be better for it. The rich minority have been allowed to dictate matters for too long, and removing them from the sport they are tarnishing with greed to their own private island will restore more of the values of which the majority recognize and thrive within.

The pursuit of greed will destroy the clubs that see their future in a separate competition of impenetrable elitism. Let them 'compete' against each other in the tamest sense of the word, and let those who believe in the true values of sport continue without the distortion of wealth. With their true colors shown, football will be better off without them.

Edited by Prem Deshpande
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