Nov 2, 2020 - Sports

The push to bring a Super League to Europe

Illustration of a soccer field on a euro.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Reports of a European Super League have surfaced yet again, marking the latest development in a three-decade fight to wring the best competition — and the most money — out of the continent's best clubs.

Why it matters: Such a league would become the most valuable soccer property aside from the World Cup, but its departure from Europe's promotion-relegation structure would fly in the face of a tradition most are unwilling to give up.

Details: Europe's wealthiest clubs have long sought a better way to monetize their global popularity. The Super League would pit them against each other on a regular basis, or at least a more regular basis than the Champions League offers.

  • Arguments for: Money and competition, which are inextricably linked. A constant stream of elite clubs facing off would be catnip for fans, making it attractive to investors and broadcasters, too.
  • Arguments against: What happens to the dozens of teams across Europe who fail to make the cut? How about the leagues, now stripped of their best teams? Plus, could part of the Champions League's allure be in its rarity?

The big picture: For this to occur, you'd realistically need three things — investors, more clubs publicly supporting the idea and FIFA's stamp of approval.

  • Investors: There's no question that a Super League would make money, so attracting investors is by far the easiest piece of this puzzle. In fact, JPMorgan Chase has already been mentioned as a possible backer.
  • Public support: Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester United are rumored to be driving this idea, and Barcelona agreed to join, according to now-former president, Josep Maria Bartomeu. But unless more clubs start publicly backing the concept, it won't gain the momentum needed to make it a reality.
  • FIFA's approval: This is the trickiest of the three, given how much power FIFA has over global soccer. Their sign-off isn't required, but going rogue without their support would be insane.

The bottom line: If a European Super League is ever going to happen, now might be the time, given the financial stress and chaos created by the pandemic. But the concept still faces hurdles that could make it infeasible regardless.

Go deeper: The lessons of the Pirate League (NYT)

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