I was interested to read Dave Alton’s article in the May Socialist Standard concerning the proposed European Super League.
As a football fan for many years, I have seen numerous proposals of this nature come and go. The only variable seems to be how long they take to collapse! The latest fiasco was particularly gratifying as the whole thing fell apart in barely 48 hours.
I am firmly of the opinion that any future similar proposals will go the same way. Indeed, I suspect many of the club owners involved are fully aware of this and are just looking to see how far they can go as a bargaining ploy to obtain a bigger slice of the cake from existing and future TV deals.
Why? Well, as Dave writes, ‘Whatever the purpose, money will be the driving force behind it.’ This money comes from the TV companies who show the matches, and therefore ultimately from their advertisers.
But the ‘elite’ clubs behind such proposals are only ‘elite’ in any meaningful sense in their own countries, where their wealth virtually guarantees success. Put 15 or 20 of them together on an equal basis, and ultimately someone has to finish bottom. Take away any meaningful threat of relegation and the matches between the ‘under-performing’ clubs become meaningless. So you end up with the same handful of clubs playing each other year after year in sterile, pointless games. Once the novelty has worn off (or even before then for me and most other fans I know), no-one wants to watch this.
So what then is the likelihood of advertisers continuing to fund inflated TV deals for something with a minuscule audience? Er, zero! This is the reason why I do not believe such a ‘competition’, in whatever guise, will ever take off. To that extent, fans DO still have power. Dave is right to suggest that impotent rage does not achieve anything, but refusal to watch their product, whether in person or on TV, most certainly will.
Shane Roberts, Bristol
‘Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa says the fundamental problem is that the rich always aspire to be more powerful without considering the effects this has on the rest’. This is the caption that should have been attached to this post-match interview(you can see the caption they actually use on the website – bit.ly/3fprpIm).
Bielsa is in no doubt that football works just the same as the rest of society. Addressing the issue of the European Super League, he says that the big clubs are ready to dump the smaller ones when they no longer need them to make money, and that structures intended to limit inequalities in the sport are going to break down.
He says this should come as no surprise: ‘The logic that rules the world, and football isn’t outside of it, is that the rich get richer at the cost of the poor becoming poorer.’
Football is for the fans? Hmm, think again!
S. Finch, Bolton