Plans for a new European Super League were announced on Sunday evening, sending the world of football into a complete frenzy.
“This is the death of football”, several panicked fans Tweeted. “How have Tottenham bloody Hotspur sneaked their way into a Super League?” many others asked.
And….yeah, they’re right. It’s a horrendous idea that threatens not only the integrity of the game, but also the futures of many clubs across Europe.
So how can this actually be stopped?
Many of the game’s governing bodies have tried to show force, threatening to ban these clubs from entering domestic and international competitions. However, the consequences of removing these clubs from their domestic leagues will have an even greater impact on the rest of that league.
For example, the Premier League is known to be the richest league in the world, earning TV contracts worth upwards of £5 billion. This figure would be decimated if the ‘big six’ all left, and every other club who has been relying on that TV revenue would find themselves in financial trouble. In conclusion, the Premier League needs the ‘big six’ more than the ‘big six’ need the Premier League.
Ultimately, this leaves the FA powerless in the fight to stop the European Super League.
The biggest names, however, have plenty of say in how things go. The players and managers could essentially decide what happens next.
Jurgen Klopp was asked about his stance on the ESL prior to his side’s fixture against Leeds United, having previously spoken against it back when it was just a rumour in 2019. What did he say about it this time around? Not much, really.
He began his statement by claiming his opinion hasn’t changed, then went on several tangents, going after Gary Neville, the protest T-shirts that Leeds wore, and Liverpool supporters’ groups removing their banners from Anfield. It all seemed like a deflection tactic to avoid talking about the real issues.
Klopp has been put in a bit of a tough situation here. He’s not at fault for this – it’s the owners who have made the big decisions. But everyone already knows this. It’s fairly obvious that Leeds’ shirts weren’t an attack on him or his players.
Don’t buy into this idea that his hands were tied. What’s the worst that would have happened to him if he had been more firm in his interview?
Of course, Klopp has signed a contract with Liverpool, which may include clauses about this sort of stuff. But contracts get breached all the time in football. Players refuse to play, don’t turn up to training – all as a bargaining tool to get a better deal or force a move away from the club.
He may get fined. He may get sacked. He may even get sued. But why would any of that matter? He earns an estimated £10 million per year. Money is not a problem to him. It would be a small price to pay for the integrity of the game.
And if his contract gets terminated, he walks into any job that he wants. Bayern Munich? PSG? Everton? Leicester City? If he wants to go there, they would take him in a heartbeat.
This same concept applies to every big name in football. Harry Kane, for example, could easily denounce the ESL and refuse to play in it. What’s Daniel Levy going to do about it? Is he going to release a player worth nine figures in the transfer market? No, of course not. He’d lose his most valuable asset for free. Same goes for Kevin De Bruyne, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku – they’re worth too much to be punished for speaking their minds.
The players hold all the power in this situation. Yes, ALL of it. They’re the ones that bring in the money. They’re the main event. Nobody switched on El Clasico the other day because of Florentino Perez. People tuned in for Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Antoine Griezmann, Toni Kroos – all the big superstars of the game.
And that’s why people would watch the European Super League. They’re watching for the biggest and best players. If those same players band together and refuse to be a part of it, there would be no ESL. It wouldn’t be profitable. And then the rich, out of touch owners would have no choice but to scrap the plans with their metaphorical tails between their legs.
It’s all well and good, listening to the likes of Klopp and James Milner say they don’t like the idea. However, it’s utterly meaningless if they still participate. Actions speak louder than words.