MANILA, Philippines – Is it always about money?
Sure, but there is also control — control over how a league is run.
The alleged European Super League has the world of sports abuzz. If this happens, it will be the first time since the 2000s where the modern-day football pyramid was aligned.
However, if it is controversy we are looking at, then it wasn’t too long ago that FIBA and the EuroLeague were at loggerheads.
The plan is for the Euro Super League is to have 20 football teams but as of this writing, reports have it that there are 12, with six coming from England. The addition of others will depend on the events over the next few days.
It isn’t that these clubs are abandoning their domestic leagues. They will be abandoning the UEFA Champions and Euro Leagues. The planned European Super League is said to work within each team’s main domestic league with continental play on weekdays.
For their participation in the planned league, each team will receive about $400 million per year — more than four times what the 2020 Champions League winner received.
The money will be split among the participating clubs alone and no one else. Under the current structure of European competition, the smaller clubs in the tournament are the beneficiary of the competition and playing top sides.
In this time of pandemic, that guaranteed money is attractive.
Why it works for the participating clubs
Each team will receive about $400 million per year (as proposed by JP Morgan) — more than four times what the 2020 Champions League winner took home. The money is split among the participating clubs alone and no one else. Under the current structure of European competition, the smaller clubs in the tournament are the beneficiary of the competition and playing top sides.
With that money, they can afford to buy the players they need.
Why it hurts football
It renders the current Champions and Europa Leagues inutile.
The fact of the matter is these competitions thrive because of the big clubs and not because of the smaller clubs.
Is it selfish?
Sure it is. The rich clubs will get richer and this is them saying they couldn’t give a hoot about the other clubs. They can ask, “is it wrong with them looking out for their own interests when they believe that UEFA is skewed?”
On the other hand, should it push through, it will weaken the old continental competition. Clubs that do not deserve to be there could advance because the big clubs aren’t in it.
A lesson from basketball
If you look laterally to European basketball, it is the same, but the opposite.
The EuroLeague was conducted from 1958-2000 under the auspices of FIBA Europe. Following the end of the 1999-2000 season, the old continent’s leading clubs formed a new EuroLeague and continued the name. In response, FIBA created the SuproLeague that didn’t catch on and was discontinued after a single season.
In 2015, the late FIBA General Secretary Patrick Baumann pushed to take control of the EuroLeague with a Basketball Champions League. FIBA threatened to suspend 14 basketball federations but nothing happened. Each one has continued to co-exist.
I just wonder why FIBA is doing all that saber-rattling. Are they really in need of more money? They want more in their coffers? Shouldn’t they be serving the clubs?
For football, it is the opposite. The breakaway clubs are leaving a competition that has been there for decades to put up one of their own.
Domestically, we have seen these breakaways before — the first that comes to mind is the Philippine Basketball Association leaving the auspices of the Basketball Association of the Philippines. We’ve also seen the various disputes in volleyball.
Sadly, though, this news has come out with domestic leagues wrapping up their season.
How this plays out remains to be seen.
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