Potential Flaws of a 'Super League'
It is a classic pub conversation topic. It has even recently been a news phenomenon after a French magazine posted a satirical article about a Middle-Eastern based one, that was taken seriously. What if a certain number of Europe's or even the World's biggest clubs from the biggest competitions such as the Barclays Premier League or BBVA's La Liga joined together to partake in a Super League? Could it work? Would it work? What would it mean for the other 'smaller' clubs from each respective nation?
The very thought of a 'Super League' divides opinion in the world of football. To think that money would finally take a stranglehold on 'the beautiful game' and rip teams away from their domestic competitions in order line the pockets of club executives and Oil-rich billionaires who want to play a real-life football video game is to me, sickening. Simply, because, the heritage of domestic leagues is the one thing that makes certain clubs great in the first place. The reason players are attracted to the best clubs, is because they are the best, in the best leagues, in the best footballing countries. In my opinion, such a league would stifle the clubs involved. Yes, maybe the revenues would be healthier, but then the players wages would rise because of this. Every game would be most likely packed to the rafters and have a great atmosphere. The television viewing figures would probably match or surpass those of the UEFA Champions League or the FIFA World Cup. The reputation a club, and the club's players could garner would be that of heroes for a successful season. However, having a single league in which even only 10 clubs would compete would mean that 9 of the World's 'biggest' football clubs would fail to win a league title each season, and for a 'Super League' that would want to represent the biggest footballing nations, the minimum club count would probably be closer to 16.
So this is the first potential problem for any organisation or football-mad billionaire who would want to set up a Super League. It is also, probably a bigger problem for the clubs who would be invited to play in the tournament. Could Manchester United fans really wait the length of time it may take to win a competition like this? Would Cristiano Ronaldo's 'dream move' to his boyhood club of Real Madrid seem that dreamy if they were finishing without a trophy each season. Even though his wages may double and royalties may become staggeringly high, for someone who has passions of beating Lionel Messi to the FIFA Ballon d'Or title in the next few seasons, he might not think it is such a dream then.
What length of time have you waited for your club to win a trophy?
How long would the fans of the World's biggest clubs be prepared to wait for their club to not win titles, but play against great clubs and players every week? With the prices of the tickets that they pay at the moment sky high for the biggest games, they would ultimately have to pay beyond most fans means for games with the greatest clubs and players pitting their wits against each other. I mentioned Cristiano Ronaldo earlier, and his dream move. Now lets think of someone with ambitions like Robin van Persie for an example. He left Arsenal because the wait for winning trophies was becoming tedious, and his career was passing him by without being successful. He decided to join Manchester United because of their heritage in the English and European football competitions, and because the way Sir Alex Ferguson regularly develops teams that challenge for trophies. If Manchester United joined a Super League, even Sir Alex may only be able to inspire a team to win a title once a decade, and with him close to retirement, what if another manager did not have the Midas touch to even do this? Would van Persie or players with similar ambitions really want to stay around and wait? Or would they want to join a club that can realistically win a league title at least once every 3 season, and have something to be proud of at the end of what, comparative to other jobs, is a very short career. I presume the latter.
Clubs who are 'smaller' in reputation, would inevitably not be made part of a Super League. Therefore whereas larger clubs may be stifled, opportunity would open for the clubs that are left behind to capitalise on the chance to become the big hitters domestically, and even attract players that they once couldn't. This would simply be, because as they could have a realistic chance to win league titles each season, they could quickly become a footballing force domestically. In order to explain my theory here, I am going to take Fulham F.C. as an example. They already have players that people consider as high quality including Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz. Take away the top clubs, the ones who would be expectant to leave the Barclays Premier League if a Super League came about would probably be:- Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool. Now Fulham would have one of the strongest squads in the Premier League, or whatever the equivalent may be. So because the 5 'Super League' teams can not possibly all be successful, players may quickly become frustrated, get sick of playing in an under-performing, unsuccessful team, and look to move to clubs who are challenging for actual trophies. This would open up a transfer window, if you will, for teams such as my example Fulham to add strength to their squad an subsequently grow as a club, thus potentially making them as 'big' as the now 'Super League' teams.
It could be argued that because the best players were playing for the best clubs week in week out, a Super League would be far more competitive, and even teams like F.C. Barcelona would not even be able to get a firm grip on the league title to win it more than twice in a row. It could also be argued that the whole competition would pretty much go down to the wire, and the points difference between the bottom and top teams would be virtually non-existent at times. If this were the case then it would have the potential to be a brilliant spectacle to watch, but one thinks this is quite far fetched, and it would not be an idealistic haven for footballing deities, that some may argue.
Other potential problems with this idea as a premise, would be the possible creation of several other 'Super Leagues' that would aim to compete with the original one. The reason that this would be a problem is because it would effectively obliterate domestic football, and possibly render most professional clubs, the ones who do not compete at the higher levels, unwanted. Since revenues of smaller league clubs are based on the pyramid system of domestic football and the 'dream' potential of making it to the holy grail of the top domestic division, many would likely have to be wound-up or down-graded to a Semi-Professional status in order to keep their heads above the water. I must confess however, creation of multiple 'Super Leagues' by seperate organisations would conjure up great rivalries between the leagues, teams in those leagues, and probably the television companies who show coverage of the leagues.
If this were to happen, then the UEFA Champions League would be able to run, wouldn't it? Would UEFA still govern the new 'Super League(s)', would it still contain set up, and what would the qualification criteria be? Surely UEFA, and even FIFA, would not allow this great tournament to die, because it garners so much revenue for both respective federations.
A Super League poses so many questions and possible ways for the revolutionaries to fail and destroy or diminish the heritage of 100+ years in most cases. For me, a reform of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League would be a greater choice for the 'Big Clubs', only if it is to protect their global appeal. However, if a Super League is ever created, more trophies than just a single League and Cup competitions would have to be up for grabs you should think, just in order to safeguard the League's club's investments, the big players, and ensure there is something that will make them want stay in the league and compete, and do not help today's 'Small Clubs' become tomorrow's giants.
In my humble opinion, I believe a Super League would probably be a bad idea, but it could help enhance footballing watch-ability for us all. I guess the only thing we can do is 'wait-and-see' and hope for the best that Football's heritage is not ruined by cash-hungry boards and owners, who will inevitably seek to drain the accounts of every football fan, but may end up emptying their own pockets because of lack of foresight.