A note on the European Super League
by the Soccernomics Editorial Team
Monday, 19 April 2021
On Sunday, 18 April 2021 Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur announced their intention to form a 'European Super League'.
Like most people, we at Soccernomics find this concept, and the behaviour of the six clubs absolutely abhorrent and counter to the founding, and enduring principles, of sporting merit upon which association football is based.
In 1992, and the advent of the Premier League, there were well founded concerns about the integrity of a competition that had broken away from the traditional Football League structure. Those concerns were raised, aired and thoroughly digested even though the basic structure of the league remained and only the 'ownership' and balance of power had changed.
In 1999, the football community was appalled by Manchester United's decision to withdraw from that season's FA Cup in order to take part in the short lived and entirely cynical 2000 FIFA Club World Championship.
The 'ESL' however is significantly worse than any of these events and attacks the very foundation of football.
As more celebrated voices have noted this move is based in greed and self interest and relies on the support of a new generation of fans willing to consume a sanitised and stage managed footballing competition.
The almost universal condemnation of this move is to be welcomed as is UEFA's announcement that ESL players will not be eligible to take part in either the World Cup or European Championship competitions.
This is not to say that change and progress are not positive for sport however the advent of the deeply flawed VAR system and the unfit for purpose fit and proper person test as well as the controversial and subjectively applied Financial Fair Play regime show that change is sometimes well intended but poorly executed and serves to damage the game unless rectified.
The ESL is not well intended and even an excellent execution of the intention will leave the game irreparably changed.
The six, self appointed, top clubs (Tottenham and Manchester City are both not in the top 6 most successful English teams) are cynically abusing their positions to further their own interests at the expense of the wider football community.
Whilst their actions are quite rightly the subject of condemnation, their decision should be final and their exit from the English game absolute. For those teams remaining there will be greater opportunity for clubs to taste success at the top of the English game and for players to experience international football.
It should be hoped that the prospect of an 'invite' to take part in the ESL is roundly refused by English League clubs and the ESL to not be provided with any semblance of authenticity by for instance including the contemporary Premier League Champions in the the following season's round of ESL fixtures.
Once the ship has sailed it should never be allowed to pick up new passengers or dock in the harbours of English football ever again.
As an editorial in L'Equipe put is so eloquently:
“If they continue with their project, we will never forgive them. We won’t forgive them if they give it up, either. The 12 clubs will remain traitors of a shared ideal for a long time still. They’ve showed they’re ready to kill off European football, its essence, its history and its beauty with their cynicism and greed.”
How will Soccernomics treat the ESL?
In simple terms any club that joins the ESL will by definition no longer be active in the English League structure.
As a result Soccernomics, from the inaugural season of the ESL will not include success in that competition as part of our calculations. To treat this as a new European competition would be inappropriate given it's closed shop, invite only nature.
At this point it seems unlikely that the Premier League, from where the six clubs currently hail, will allow them to continue to take part in that competition. Similarly it would be presumed that entry into the EFL Cup - predicated on league status - would be withdrawn from the 6 and in all likelihood the FA Cup too.
Assuming they will no longer compete in domestic competition, the six ESL clubs will not be able to accumulate success points until such point as they rejoin domestic competition on a level playing field basis.
For clubs who are 'invited' to participate in the ESL on a season-by-season basis, for any season they are active in the ESL and presumably not active in domestic competition, they too will not be able to accumulate success points.