The European Super League, or the ESL, was a plan that was put in talks roughly twenty years ago by Real Madrid’s President, Florentino Perez. The proposed plan came into fruition last week and was publicly announced, but every fans reaction was not as expected.
The ESL consisted of 15 founding teams, 12 of which were decided when announced and consisted of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan. It was looking for three more founding “worthy” (or in other words rich) clubs. The league itself would consist of 5 other teams every season but would not require relegation for the founding members. So, basically the ESL was a scam created by these rich clubs to remain rich.
Football fans immediately united against the ESL and the founding clubs even received massive backlash. Even certain players of their leagues were horrified by the idea and subtly spoke out against it. Stadiums were vandalized, teams lost fans and social media was trending with heated discussions about the ESL and how it was going to be the death of football since it was “created by the poor and stolen by the rich.” Players from other teams had the free reins to speak up about the ESL and Leeds United even wore “earn it” and “Football is for the fans” t-shirts in their practice before the game against Liverpool.
Ex-football players, including Gary Neville and David Beckham, also openly spoke out on social media and explained that the ESL would ruin the merit and competition aspect of football and would ruin the values that football stands for. Clubs that weren’t a part of the ESL, especially English ones, were strongly against the idea of it also also chose to hilariously chose sides. Wolves even changed their twitter status to the Premier League Champions of 2018/19 and asked if it was too late for a celebration parade.
You may be asking how did they crown themselves the Champions, didn’t Man City win the League that season? And yes, City did win the League. However, the premier League itself wasn’t excited about the ESL and released a press statement condemning the club involved with it. They even went as far as to threatening to ban the clubs from the Premier League. That brings us back to how Wolves could be crowned the Champions, and if you remove the six “founding English members,” you’ve got Wolves at the top of the table in the 2018/19 season.
If the Premier League, which wasn’t too directly affected by the ESL, had such a negative reaction against the ESL, UEFA and FIFA were bound to have worse reactions and so they did. UEFA considered removing Man City, Chelsea and Real Madrid from the current season of the UCL and crown PSG as the automatic champions. FIFA strongly disapproved of the ESL and informed that they would remove the all the players who played in the ESL from the upcoming 2022 World Cup. That would mean no Messi, Ronaldo, KDB, Pulisic, VVD, Griezmann, etc., in the worldcup.
Speaking of good players and PSG, the Parisian team, along with all German teams like Bayern and Dortmund, rejected the ability to join the ESL. German teams couldn’t join it even if they wanted to due to the 50+1 rule which prohibited them from breaking away and doing so. According to this rule, fans own 51% of the shares of German teams. While this rule seemed insignificant before now, it really showed the superiority of the Bundesliga and its respect for the values of football and the fans.
Within a day days, teams took the reactions and backlash into consideration and dropped out of the ESL. Manchester City was the first to do so formally and Chelsea followed. All English teams were out of the league by the following day (or are they?). In fact, they ESL was also reported suspended in 48 hours.
However, it wasn’t entirely ineffective and may have left the football community before off then they were before. Not only did the ESL manage to unite the fans for the first time in a while, it highlighted deeper problems in the current system being employed. It showed how the PL, UEFA and FIFA can combat hooliganism and racism in football if they showed this much interest and enthusiasm to do so. It even forced UEFA to change its format and allow 36 teams to take part in it, instead of the current 36. It even changed the basic format from a group stage to league of ten games. Overall, the new format would create more equitability and highlight the true European Champion of the season.
The ESL even led to the “step down” of the vice chairman of Man United, Edward Woodward, due to his involvement with the ESL proposals. It continues to question the ownership of man United by the Glazers family as fans urge to kick the American business family from their power in football. Conor McGregor, the boxer, even hilariously proposed to buy out a major stake in ManU but unfortunately doesn’t have the funds to do so. Man United isn’t the only club who’s leadership was bought into question. Daniel Levy, the chairman of Tottenham, was ready to ditch the Premier League for money and the ESL. So, naturally, Twitter fans shared their dismay and are trying to remove him and his group, the ENIC group, from their influential place in English football.
The biggest problem is Florentino Perez’s power in football. In response to the fan backlash, he stated that he himself gets bored from many football games and how his league would prevent that. Fans speculated that he questioned their loyalty to football and if they truly watched matches that didn’t involve the “big teams.” Fans immediately spoke out and named Ajax’s 2018/19 UCL advancement and Leicester’s win in 2015/16 as a few examples of how all teams are relevant and they do in fact enjoy watching all matches. However, Perez still hasn’t given up and has informed how the ESL was a legally finding contract and hence no club is allowed to leave it. Whether or not his claims are true are unknown, but the ESL was dead for the fans before it even started and will continue to stay dead.