Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few days, you’ve probably seen the huge uproar and controversy in the football world as a result of the proposal of the new European Super League.
In basic terms, the European Super League takes some of the most popular football teams in Europe and puts them into this Super League, meaning that other teams competing in their domestic leagues essentially have little to play for. Ultimately, the plan is all driven by money and effectively creates a footballing monopoly of the richest football clubs in Europe.
If all of this is still sounding alien to you, hopefully this post will help to translate things for you!
*Note: It is worth mentioning, at the current time of writing, numerous football clubs have now withdrawn from the European Super League proposal as a result of the backlash from the football community.*
The Current Structure
If we look at the current structure of football across Europe, the top teams from each of Europe’s domestic leagues qualify to compete in the UEFA Champions League; an annual competition bringing together the best performing teams in Europe. In the current formatting of the Premier League (the biggest football league in England), four teams qualify for the Champions League, based on their performances from the previous season. The beauty of the Champions League is that ultimately, any team could qualify for the Champions League based on how they perform over the course of a season.
In film terms, think of the UEFA Champions League as the Academy Awards, AKA the Oscars. Whilst there is a strict and complicated background process to being nominated for an Academy Award (check out this post for a bit of an insight), essentially any film could be nominated and even be in with a chance of winning an Oscar, based on merit. Like the UEFA Champions League brings together the best performing teams in Europe, the Academy Awards bring together the most deserving films from across the globe.
The current proposal of the new European Super League would mean that the founding clubs would automatically gain entry to the Super League year on year, regardless of their performances in the previous season. Of the twelve founding clubs, six clubs play in the English Premier League and these are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. The other six clubs were made up of three teams from Italy and three teams from Spain and all 12 of these clubs feature in the top 16 of Forbes’ list of the most valuable football clubs. The idea of the European Super League is to replace the UEFA Champions League and ‘improve global appeal’ by pitting together some of the richest clubs in Europe.
In film terms, think of this as the Academy Awards being taken over by some of the biggest film companies in the world and essentially setting the criteria for Oscar nominations as being only films produced by the big film companies, regardless of whether they deserve to be nominated or not. This would be like Sony Pictures, Universal Studios and Walt Disney solely competing against each other year on year. Granted in the football scenario there are two separate entities at the heart of the uproar in the form of the Champions League and the European Super League, rather than just the one with the Academy Awards in this instance, but the concept of entitlement due to financial standing is the same.
Obviously, this proposal causes a number of issues which would have a ripple effect across the footballing world. The biggest issue is the fact that regardless of how well a football team is performing domestically, they potentially would not get the chance to play against some of the most popular teams in Europe and thus would miss out on the opportunity for increased revenue as a result of competing in these European competitions.
Currently, Leicester City are in 3rd place in the Premier League, meaning that under the current format, they would qualify for the Champions League which would not only be a fantastic achievement, but would also bring the club huge revenue as well as exposure for the club on a global level. If the European Super League came into place, this would mean that all of Leicester’s hard work was for nothing and instead, 9th placed Arsenal would instead claim all that revenue and exposure in their place, despite frankly being awful this season.
In film terms, let’s think of this in terms of the 93rd Academy Awards, which are set to take place later this week. Two of the front runners for the award of Best Picture are low-budget films Minari and Nomadland, both of which have received widespread praise as a result of the hard work and commitment put in to creating these films. Now imagine the scenario I mentioned earlier, whereby only the richest film companies can participate in the Academy Awards, with films from Universal, Disney and Sony all being nominated instead. Could you imagine if 2020’s Dolittle was nominated instead of Minari for the award of Best Picture (Dolittle is actually nominated for a Golden Raspberry, that is how bad it is), simply as a result of the wealth of the production company?
The beauty of any fair competition is that in most cases, anyone has a chance to win! Some of the most notable recent examples are 5000-1 underdogs Leicester City winning the Premier League in 2016, after having just avoided relegation the previous season. Likewise, at the Academy Awards in 2017 when independent film company A24’s Moonlight beat the likes of La La Land and Arrival to win Best Picture (in rather remarkable fashion it must be said!). It’s these underdog stories which make all forms of competition so fascinating.
Like the majority of business structures, both football and film are effectively a part of a pyramid structure, where actions taken by those at the top of the pyramid ripple through the pyramid to those below. The success of a football team or film company at the top of the pyramid has beneficial impacts on the industry (for the most part) and can help to create jobs and revenue for those further down the pyramid. However, this new proposal of an elite Super League for the richest football clubs, breaking away from the current pyramid structure, is a damning example of how the people at the head of these organisations care solely about money and not about the greater good.
The uproar caused by football fans has most definitely been listened to and it looks like the proposed European Super League will no longer be going ahead, but this is just the beginning. We need to ensure these attempts of forming these elite clubs are stopped in their tracks, whether it be in the sports world, entertainment world or simply, everyday life.