The Super League is the name of the new top league that 12 top clubs have founded to separate themselves from the Champions League. It is a declaration of war on the European Football Association UEFA. According to Thomas Peeters, Sports Economist at Erasmus School of Economics, the decision of the founding clubs is very understandable: 'There is still too little money in top football.’
A lot of criticism
The intention is that eventually twenty clubs will participate in the Super League. Of these twenty clubs, five clubs are not part of the founding clubs and must qualify each year based on their performance in the previous season. The founders expect the Super League to generate around 10 billion Euros. Up to now, the new league has been widely criticised. Several governments have already expressed their criticism and UEFA has also indicated that it will do everything in its power to stop the Super League. UEFA wants to realise that footballers of participating clubs would no longer be allowed to appear at the World Cup or European Championship.
A logical choice
Thomas Peeters says that the choice of the clubs is no less than logical. ‘It is now or never for such a top league,' he says. ‘UEFA is working on a reform of the Champions League from 2024 and the top clubs are bracing themselves: it is bowing to their wishes or breaking them.’ Peeters explains that from the clubs' perspective the Champions League has too many uninteresting matches. ‘Teams like Chelsea, Liverpool and Juventus are not waiting to play Slavia Prague or Club Brugge. They can't motivate their players for it and commercially it doesn't bring in much: supporters don't buy enough tickets and TV viewers aren't waiting for it.’
Is there more money to be made?
Football is already a billion-dollar business. So, can the elite clubs still get more money out of such an exclusive competition? ‘In itself it seems strange, but top football today still yields too little’, Peeters says. ‘Look at the NFL, the American football league: although nobody watches it outside the US, in a market of 350 million people they have a TV contract that brings in 6 billion dollars annually. European top football has a much wider reach, because in Asia and South America they also watch the top matches and the Champions League final. While there is only a return of 2 billion euros in TV money. The top clubs think they can do better, and they are right.’
A difficult situation
There are still five open places for the Super League. ‘European top matches are watched well worldwide and you clearly feel where they want to go. Why not let Boca Juniors from South America take part or a strong Asian team? And for a few million extra Liverpool and Real Madrid will play in Abu Dhabi too’, Peeters says. ‘UEFA finds itself in a difficult position because of the situation. UEFA is now threatening to exclude teams from the national leagues and ban players from the European Cups and World Cups, but that power play can turn against them like a boomerang. It is like a monopolist using its subsidiary - the national league - to exclude competition. Do this in any other industry and the European Commission steps in.'