Is football going through a revolution? In any case, it takes the path. On Sunday evening, twelve big European clubs (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan) announced the creation of a Super League.
The idea is to create a semi-closed European competition to compete with the traditional Champions League. It would be organized around two groups of ten teams and a final phase. Fifteen clubs would be permanent members. Five more clubs would be added to this list each year “on the basis of their results from the previous season”.
This Super League has not failed to elicit very strong reactions from former and current players, clubs and political figures such as Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic. But also, and above all, supporters.
They could potentially be delighted to be able to attend gala meetings each year. It is not so. The effect of repeating these matches each year would effectively remove the scarcity of attending these types of matches.
Fans have been without a stadium for over a year and their place is in question. Yet they are an integral part of club life. This Monday, banners have already bloomed. Especially in England at Anfield with a sober message: “Shame on you (shame on you) R.I.P Liverpool 1892-2021. “
“Shame on you. RIP LFC. 1892-2021” Fans in front of Anfield were quick to comment on Liverpool’s participation in the European Super League. [@ Route1futbol] #LFC #NoToEuropeanSuperLeague pic.twitter.com/dPheu0CHL5
Many denounce the fact of not having been consulted before this decision was taken. “It’s been madness since last night, it’s jazze in all directions, explains Dylan Veerasamy, Liverpool supporter who manages the RedsFrance twitter page, with 18,600 subscribers. This is a decision against the club, taken at a time when supporters have no means of action in the stadiums. This goes totally against the values of Liverpool, which above all advocates the desire for sharing and a popular footballer. There, the American owners swear by money. Liverpool have a history and it has just been scoffed at. We are disgusted. “
Money is the lifeblood of football in search of renewal. Even more at a time of a health crisis whose financial impacts are inevitably felt.
“Many of these founding clubs of this project are owned by foreign owners who wish to maximize their income,” says Jean-Baptiste Guégan, teacher in the geopolitics of sport. The current Champions League does not allow them to do that. The supporters are the turkeys of the farce. But what images are sent back to them, other than the one that they are only good for making money? “
Ronan Evain, director of the Football Supporters Europe association, makes a similar observation. “This decision is more than a lack of respect,” he said. This is a mark of absolute disdain made by the owners. Club employees, coaches and players have learned this at the same time as the general public and are subjected to it, like us. There are billions of football fans in the world and no one has been consulted, ”he laments.
“The owners of the clubs justify the creation of this Super League by the financial impact of the pandemic,” he continues. But, didn’t the supporters give away their memberships to help the club they cherish? Some teams even asked for help from public money during this crisis, which is to say … This creation does not fit into the football ecosystem at all. “
For observers, the ambition is clear: to turn to emerging markets, particularly Asian ones, fans of closed leagues. A model reminiscent of the NBA, the basketball championship that has become a real show across the globe.
“They clearly want to model this model with this fantasy of seeing the supporter as a consumer by doing merchandising,” continues Jean-Baptiste Guégan. They turn their backs on their supporters to welcome with open arms people who are very fond of spectacle sport. Their core target is clearly the Asian and American population. Because audiences in Europe are declining. But how will the clubs do if the stadiums on match nights will be emptied of their supporters? Which image will be returned? “
“Money can’t do everything because this football is above ground. Real football is a life, a culture, an environment. But by disgusting this ecosystem, what will be the value of the product offered? », Concludes Ronan Evain.