If there ever was a spectacular own goal it has to be the proposed set up of the European Super League. It’s flame shone mightily bright for 48 hours before a revolt by fans, the media and politicians snuffed it out. It must have been the fastest ever football competition.
What has been surprising to many though is how surprised people have been by the suggestion that the richest clubs in Europe hive themselves off to a cosy competition where there is in effect no competition. All the clubs would play each other every season with no relegation. It would just be winners all the way with untold riches pouring in from sponsorship and TV rights.
This has been a long time coming. Indeed the setting up of the Premier league was a step in the same direction, with the bigger clubs demanding a greater share of the revenues that they claimed they generated for the game. Having more money meant you could buy the best players, making you more successful, leading to even more money. For me and many others money has spoilt the game but the European Super League was just the next logical level.
What I was surprised at, however, was the reaction from the politicians, especially the Prime Minister. According to The Guardian, ‘Johnson condemned the league – in which six of the 15 founder members were English clubs – as “against the basic principles of competition” in his strongest comments to date and “propelled by the billions of banks”. He also threatened a legislative bomb if the football authorities couldn’t sort it all out. What the bomb would be and how it could be enacted in law was lacking in detail.
But wait. Why the objection? This is free market capitalism in full flow. Capital will move to where it can find the greatest return. Markets will decide where to invest. The European Super League already had funding in place to back its business plan and must have had the backing of the major shareholders (owners) of the clubs involved. It was their money and they can do with it what they like. All that was missing was the opinion of the fans but what this has shown is that they don’t matter.
The proposed creation of the European Super League is precisely what free market conservatives believe in and so why the objection?