Image: Euro Super League
Hey, before you check out my thoughts on the ESL, House Enterprise's very own Andrew Steers-Sullivan did an awesome piece on his first reactions to the creation of this league, so make sure you check it out!
It's been a very tumultuous few days in the world of European Soccer, with no peace in sight as top European Clubs continue to feud with UEFA and the national governing bodies of soccer over the creation of this new league. While I think the Super League in it's current proposed form is an abomination built on a foundation of greed, I actually think a system like this could be an interesting next step as the beautiful games continues to grow on a global scale.
Here are my thoughts on the current model of the ESL, and how I think it could work.
Why a European Super League Would Be Awesome
Let's face it. As open as the European soccer league system makes itself out to be, there are a handful of clubs that have been dominating the sport for the better part of this century. When looking at every UEFA Champions League Final since the year 2000, the 12 founding clubs of the Super League have won 17 of them. By moving these top clubs into a higher, international league that connects to the rest of the continent via a promotion/relegation system, you can provide plenty of opportunities from smaller clubs to win trophies at home, while also having more chances at intercontinental tournaments to improve as a team and bring in more players. With this system, you could possibly begin to close the gap that exists between the richest and poorest clubs, while also providing an excellent international competition for viewers all over the world.
Why We Won't Get This
As awesome as this Super League could be, the interests of the shareholders once again outweighs the interests of the fans, and we're getting this corporate, closed off Super League that could begin as early as next year. While the clubs involved promised to stay involved in their own domestic leagues simultaneously with the ESL, the money generated by this venture would only further the financial divide between the top clubs and the rest of the continent. International broadcast partners would likely favor the Super League over competitions like the Champions League, hampering the exposure of any club not involved. While newly-appointed League Chairman Florentino Perez claims this will grow the game, everything about this league only points to the growth of the investors wallets.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As of right now, both UEFA and the ESL Clubs have resorted to hurling threats and sanctions at each other, with no clear solution in sight. In the meantime, I have crunched the numbers, and created a solution that I hope will satisfy UEFA, the 12 Founding Clubs, and Fans all around the world. Should both sides agree to use my system, my fee is simple. All I request in return for saving European Soccer is a statue of me outside of Wembley Stadium, and lifetime tickets to every Brighton and Hove Albion home match. Without further ado, I present....
THE SAM BASEL EURO SUPER LEAGUE SPECTACULAR
How it Works:
The Super League Spectacular, or SLS for short, would be a European Soccer League consisting of the best clubs from a variety of national associations, and connected throughout each league system via a system of promotion and relegation. The SLS would be considered the top tier club competition within the continent, and therefore, clubs involved would spend their entire season competing solely within the league.
At the core of the SLS' structure is the UEFA Association Coefficient System, a mathematical formula currently used by UEFA to determine how spots in the Champions League, Europa League, and Conference League would be allocated for each country. Associations move up and down these rankings depending on how their native clubs perform in these three competitions. Using the Coefficient rankings from before the 2020-2021 European Season, the SLS would be comprised of clubs from the following associations:
-2 Clubs each from Associations ranked 1-5 (Currently: Spain, England, Italy, Germany, France)
-1 Club each from Associations ranked 6-15 (Currently: Russia, Portugal, Belgium, Ukraine, Turkey, Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece and Croatia)
With these rankings, we would then pull the topped ranked clubs from each country based on their domestic league performances in the 2019-20 season. Based on this criteria, the clubs competing in the 2020-21 SLS would be:
-Real Madrid (ESP)
-FC Barcelona (ESP)
-Manchester City (ENG)
-Inter Milan (ITA)
-Bayern Munich (GER)
-Borussia Dortmund (GER)
-Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
-Zenit Saint Petersburg (RUS)
-Club Brugge (BEL)
-Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
-Istanbul Basaksehir (TUR)
-Red Bull Salzburg (AUS)
-Slavia Republic (CZE)
-Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Under this system, the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and newly-created Conference League would operate as usual, with each association sending new representatives as clubs move up due to other top teams based on who gets sent to the SLS. Promotion and relegation to and from the SLS would work in two ways:
-The bottom six clubs would each be sent back to their domestic league and replaced by that year's champion. For example, if Liverpool finished in the bottom six in the first year of the SLS, they would be replaced by the winner of the 2020-21 English Premier League.
-Club coefficients would be determined by a combination of club performances in all four European club competitions. For example, if Croatia swapped places with Denmark in the rankings, Dinamo Zagreb would be replaced with the winner of the 2020-21 Danish Superliga.
By using coefficients as a means of association relegation, clubs in the SLS would be incentivized to care for the well-being of their native association, ensuring that revenue from the SLS would be used in part to improve domestic leagues around Europe.
With this current league structure now in place, the final piece of the puzzle deals with the new structure of the UEFA Super Cup, as well as Europe's representative to the FIFA Club World Cup. Instead of a match between the winners of the Champions and Europa League, these two new competitions would turn the Super Cup into a four team knockout tournament, following the same format each year:
SLS Champion v Conference League Champion
Champions League Champion v Europa League Champion
Winner of Semi-final 1 v Semi-final 2
The winner of this tournament would be crowned that year's "European Super Champion," and would be that year's UEFA representative to the FIFA Club World Cup.
As much fun as something like this could be, it's important to realize that as of right now, this European Super League will be charging ahead full steam with the Founding 12 clubs. While this is clearly a major blow to the integrity of Europe's league structure both domestically and internationally, it's important to note that UEFA and FIFA aren't entirely victims in this situation. If they were getting a cut out of a Super League like this, I doubt the sanctions would be coming down as hard as they currently are. So far, the fan response has been the most powerful, and as these insanely rich companies continue to bicker with each other, the most important thing to fight for is the interest of not those who cash the checks, but those who punch the tickets, buy the jerseys and watch matches each week, because without the fans, the Beautiful Game is nothing.
Pssst... hey you. Yeah. YOU! If you want to hear me ramble about the Super League a bit more, as well as a recap of everything going on in the world of New York Sports, you should check out my new podcast, Basel Daily! Every day, I give you all the sports news you need to know before you can finish your midday coffee, so check it out below!