I was having a read of the always excellent 7amkickoff’s blog yesterday. I don’t read lots of blogs (not even my own! But you could probably tell that given the typos sometimes 😉 ) but occasionally check in on some and this one intrigued me because it was about the possibility of the UEFA Super League becoming a reality. Have a read for more details because he does it in far more detail than I ever would and does it far more justice than me. The crux of the piece is that there will be a revised format where every team plays each other instead of in small groups of four, with the top eight from 36 teams going through to a knockout stage. All designed to give more of the big teams more moeny and more high profile games. They would also have a ‘seeding’ system for the top eight teams, who would always get in to the competition no matter their league position.
But it has triggered me to thinking this morning: what would happen to me personally in terms of my football experience if this league came into force?
Fore one thing it will surely mean the domestic Premier League becomes more devalued. You know how some teams who are fighting for their spot to remain in the Premier League, basically put out weakened teams in the FA Cup, because they might have another game in the Premier League a few days later? That is what will essentially happen in the Super League, only you’ll get teams fielding weakened sides in the Premier League because they know the value of finishing in the better positions in the Super League. It will devalue the domestic league completely and it wouldn’t surprise me if there was even less money that could fall down the leagues as a result of the devaluing of the Premier League. It would create an elite NFL style selection of teams who eat at the top table and it would be very difficult to break in to if you aren’t chucking hundreds of millions at your football team.
Which would be a bad day for Arsenal fans with absent owners like KSE at the table.
I’ve always admired Arsenal’s ‘doing it the right way’ approach, but the opportunity to do the ‘right way’ and succeed amongst the financially doped clubs will essentially cease to exist if this super league gets the go ahead, which 7amkickoff says reports say is ‘99% certain’. Will winning the Premier League mean as much? Does it spell the end of the League Cup, or maybe even the FA Cup? Probably the League Cup, which again means smaller teams down the football pyramid won’t get their slice of revenues as a result of not playing in big cup ties. It would be one less competition to win, one less trophy and one less day out for fans at Wembley. I know in recent years it has become the Man City Cup, but that dominance won’t last forever and where other teams have the opportunity to win it is an opportunity to live the highs for fans. I was there a few year’s ago when Mustafi balls’d up and we lost to City in the cup and it wasn’t a fun day in the end, but the build up, the camaraderie, the walk to Wembley – I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Except the result, obviously!
That would dissolve away and the FA Cup would probably be at risk too. Do you remember when Man United ‘opted out’ all of those years ago because they were playing the World Club Cup? Fergie just pulled his team out in 2000 and whilst I’m sure Chelski fans were happy in the end because they lifted a trophy, most of the press that year had talked about there being a sense of the competition being devalued because not only were arguably the best team not in the competition, but they were also the holders of the competition. If there is going to be so many more games in this Super League what do we think some of these bigger clubs will do? They will pull their participation in competitions like this, because they will argue that their players should not be playing around 65 games in a nine month season.
There’s also the selfish and partisan fan side of me that thinks that I don’t want to become a fan of a team who is constantly battling just to try to stay in an elite seeded top eight side. And when even that becomes some kind of ‘trophy’ or aspiration point for us to aim for – because we are nowhere near it right now – it just becomes all the more frustrating to see the decline of us. And even if next season Arteta turns us in to a side challenging fro the top four again, it doesn’t mean too much, because this League would mean we are challenging for top four, just to become some kind of mid-table mediocrity side in Europe. It isn’t exciting in the slightest and I have no interest in it.
Again, selfishly, I quite enjoy those early stages in the FA Cup when you get to go away to a small ground and experience different types of football, like away at Blackpool, Preston or Nottingham Forest. It’s a little different. Heading off to Barcelona season after season will soon have its drain, not least on the wallet, so it’s another problem that whilst I realise is only for a small minority of Arsenal fans, will still be something which makes watching Arsenal live and in the flesh all the more unobtainable.
But what can we do? We just have to sit here and take it as fans because European football and the Premier League have evolved beyond a sport and in to a business model and this is just diversification. This is evolution for the sake of the bank balance and there is nothing we fans can do. Much like the global pandemic has left us powerless to respond, this European Super League will be exactly the same, which makes me sad.
Catch you all tomorrow. Hopefully we can start looking forward to the weekend.