Twelve of Europe's biggest football clubs have announced that they will be establishing a new midweek competition known as the European Super League, which will rival the historic UEFA Champions League.
The ESL will be governed by the 'Founding Clubs', which consist of AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.
Out of the 20 teams in the ESL, only five teams would have to qualify each year whilst the founding clubs will never face relegation, securing their place permanently in the league.
Why was it created?
COVID-19 has affected the football industry heavily after the decline in gate receipts, causing a loss of €1bn in revenue for twenty of Europe’s biggest clubs. Most of the top clubs are also profoundly in debt.
Clubs have found it notoriously difficult to get a spot in the UEFA Champions League and those spots are dependant on the participating club's position in their domestic leagues. For example, only the top four teams in the Premier League can get a spot. The Founding Clubs have argued that the European football economic model is flawed and desperately requires an alternative.
Whilst the Founding Clubs have stated that they want to see the top clubs and players competing on a regular basis, money seems to be the main driving force.
The ESL will be financed by the American bank JP Morgan who have committed around €3.5bn to support the twelve clubs’ infrastructure investment plans as well as compensating for the revenue loss caused by the pandemic.
The Founding Clubs have also been promised €200m to €300m in grants each as a welcome bonus by the US investment bank. It is expected that the funding is secured against the potential billions in TV broadcasting rights. As there will be top teams and top players competing REGULARLY, it is likely that the broadcasting rights will provide multibillions in revenue.
BT had paid £1.2bn for exclusive broadcasting rights for the UEFA Champions League and Europa League from 2021 to 2024.
Why the backlash?
There has been widespread condemnation from nearly all football fans, politicians, pundits and even football players. Most importantly governing bodies and leagues across Europe have objected to the ESL, arguing that it would destroy the premise of open competition. Many have argued that the move to create the ESL is a cynical project driven by greed and power.
One of the main reasons why both the Champions League (and Europa League) are so popular is because smaller football clubs can fight their way to the top through their performance on the pitch whereas the ESL breaks away from this traditional football pyramid model.