European Super League

Five reasons why a European Premier League might not happen - yet

Football's biggest clubs are converging to push through a breakaway but for the moment at least their threats may be empty

 
11:20am on Wednesday 21st October 2020
By
Paul Macdonald

Ah you can just picture it now: Tottenham and Atletico Madrid locked in a battle to see who will finish ninth in the inaugural 16-team European Premier League.

Leagues, Super or not, are funny like that. They throw up meaningless games with regularity and this latest extravaganza, allegedly with the backing of FIFA, would be no different.

But to understand how little of this announcement is actually a bombshell is to understand much of the politics behind it.

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1) UEFA v FIFA

UEFA president Aleksandr Ceferin and FIFA counterpart Gianni Infantino do not get on. In fact they are scrapping over the ownership of the game's biggest clubs. Their membership in UEFA has never really been in doubt until Infantino's arrival on the scene and he is making a clear land grab.

This follows his crazy Club World Cup plan; he wants a piece of the club action because that's where the capital investment comes from. This is a very deliberate release from a very power-hungry individual.

2) ECA and UEFA

In addition, the European Club Association, which is fronted by Juventus supremo Andrea Agnelli, ratified his members' involvement in the current guise of the Champions League until 2024. This change guaranteed the top four from England, Spain, Germany and Italy direct entry into the competition via their league position, and without having to qualify.

It would take an extremely brave power play on behalf of FIFA to challenge UEFA legally on this and potentially drag things through the courts before a new 'European Premier League' could ever begin.

3) Andrea Agnelli

But it's important to remember what Agnelli thinks of challengers to the status quo. Earlier this year he said of Atalanta: “I have great respect for everything that Atalanta are doing, but without International history and thanks to just one great season, they had direct access into the primary European club competition. Is that right or not?"

His ambition is, and always has been, to blow up the model and reset European football. He doesn't want to play your team, or mingle with the commoners. And 2024 is his ticket out. He is simply moving the pieces around the board.

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4) The Premier League brand

There's a reason why the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich would potentially be open to this and it's because they have outgrown their markets and have become, commercially, too rich to maintain a level of competition in the league.

That, however, is not the case in the Premier League, where TV deals both domestically and Internationally remain the most lucrative around. It would take a huge offer for the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United to step away from guaranteed revenue and somewhat into the unknown.

5) It's all about positioning

2024 is not that far away. Clubs are talking and are jostling for position. They want to get their houses in order so that they can land the best possible deal when the time is right.

To get into bed with FIFA puts direct threat on UEFA as an institution and their control over the continent. It provides a bargaining chip for Agnelli and ECA when negotiation for 2024 beyond begins. Ideas are being floated and plans drawn up. But nothing is concrete. The big teams are just making sure that when it all shakes out, they have got their way.

And in the end, they probably will. These days, they mostly do. But it's likely to be after 2024 that we see such a seismic shift in European football.

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