Waking up the day after the news of the Super League and it still feels odd.
Spurs have sacked Jose Mourinho, a story I’d normally be basking in, but are they doing that because they want to gear up with a proper manager for this Super League windfall? They’ve gone from being able to attract Nuno, to now being able to attract a rockstar. They’ve gone from a certain Harry Kane exit, to now possibly keeping him.
I’ve spent 5 years writing about Stan K needing to do things the hard way, and in the space of one pandemic, he’s shortcut 5 years of pain and taken us back into guaranteed Champions League football. He did it all without spending his own cash. He brought us the Arsene Wenger FFP dream. We have the edge without the effort.
It’s a lot to take in.
Amazon and Disney are looking at stumping the $4b for the TV deal. That’s game-changing money. $350m just to sign on.
There are some lawyers doing the rounds that basically say UEFA have no say in this and the Premier League wouldn’t be able to stop it.
Some are saying the league might suspend the teams. Don’t be stupid. The 6 teams leaving are the 6 teams that matter. All of them are clubs that can make a super league on brand name alone. The Premier League likely won’t have much power in this.
One possible hope with this is that there is European Union or British government intervention. It’s been trendy for countries to get involved in big business to protect industry. We’ve seen moves on 5G, TikTok in America, medicine. Question, is football worth protecting? This is a culture wrecking move. There’s also not a lot of love for billionaires. Boris Johnson won with the little guys last time around, would he go against his elitist instincts and step in? Is Macron action-oriented or just hot air? Would Merkel accept this from yet-to-be-confirmed German sides? Where is the politics on this?
There’s not really a counter to creating a closed league, hence the botched PR launch. However, human nature is all about the in and out club. We’re programmed to want to be on the inside. In caveman times, if you were in the out-group, you didn’t eat. Well, shock horror, my DMs were firing on all cylinders this morning…
Clear-eyed, this move for Arsenal, is hard to argue. David Dein led the first break away league way back when. We are crippled financially, there was no plan for the pandemic, clubs want to take back control of their destiny. Arsenal have turbo-charged the future with this move.
I suspect the calculation on this is that fans are easily won over. Morals didn’t stop human rights abusers taking over clubs. No one cared about blood money if it was being spent on big-name players over the last decade. It won’t take long for fans of the in-club clubs to sail over to the idea that this is actually a good thing because Arteta’s transfer budget just grew 10x inside a day.
The other part of this story is that there’s going to be a networked effect on the fan multiplier. The biggest clubs, with the most fans, always in the biggest competition, will grow their fanbase at the expense of outsiders or plucky upstarts. Where are the kids going to spend their $80 for football shirts? The clubs where the stars go every season. Wednesday night football will be a global spectacle that diminishes smaller ‘outsider’ clubs chances of moving forward.
Think about the shape of our summer now. We’ve gone from a hard sell, to one of the easiest.
I spoke to some people yesterday that had a ruthless mindset on the matter.
Why not change?
When you start at a new place of work, your first job is to look at how they do things and ask questions. You will always find something that is baffling, inefficient, and counter-productive. When you ask why… ‘we’ve always done it that way.’
Human nature is routine. Football is routine because it works. Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. This could be the start of an ideas race. Rory Smith, who I’m sure will have some excellent thoughts on this, said that football without competition is content. Do fans want content? Or competition? Can a truer competition exist for the purist? Does that purist spend more money than the casual? So many unanswered questions.
I was speaking to Matt Kandela from the podcast who has been shaped by New York to be one of the ruthless business people I know. He asked why European football was only for the top 7 clubs in each country. Is that interesting enough? Is that exploiting all the opportunities there are? Why can’t we create European avenues for Championship teams? That’d be interesting. Norwich vs St Pauli? I’d watch. Monday and Friday nights are free. Is there such thing as too much sport? Baseball has 180 odd games as season. So not in America. What is the capacity for fans?
Why couldn’t the alternative Champions League be an awesome spectacle? In the current Super League, you have a shite Arsenal, a shite Spurs, a fairly meh Chelsea team, and a Liverpool in decline.
Super League vs Champions League. Let’s make this pure WWE.
Football fans go where the hype is.
The main losers here right now are the fans that will have to spend money on all these experiments.
… but football only dies if the others don’t fight back.
What I will say is that I have absolutely no interest in supporting UEFA and FIFA in this. Two of the most corrupt organisations in the history of sport. Fuck them. They’ve allowed this into the game. They failed to enforce FFP, they failed to get a grip on disgraceful schedules, they gave the World Cup to a country using slave labour to build their stadiums. They have no moral high ground on this.
… and that’s the rub in this. It’s like a Tarrantino film, everywhere you look, there are bad guys. You don’t know where to place your allegiances.
The big loser is the game and as a result, the fans.
The billionaire class moved in on our culture and they are ripping it to shreds.
Being on the winning side is better than being an outsider, but don’t enjoy it too much, if something is too good to be true… it’ll bite you in the pocket eventually.
For now, tell me what you think in the comments below. Gonna try and get a podcast fired up a little later today about it.