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Now is the Time for a European Super League

By John Nicholson

A couple of years ago I wrote a column for football365 saying that it was time for a European Super League. It wasn’t widely welcomed then. But I think that’s changed now.

To recap the concept; the top four of the Premiership go into the European Super league. At the end of every season the lowest positioned club from each country’s quota of teams, whatever their position in the ESL, gets relegated back to their domestic league and is replaced with the winner of the top league.

In conjunction with the establishment of the ESL a wage cap is enforced so that the wealthier relegated ESL side doesn’t have a financial advantage on their return to the Premiership

This makes the Premiership a proper competitive league again with any one from up to a dozen sides able to win the league every year. The winner would then benefit from the extra rich creamy money in the ESL for at least one season, this ensuring the money doesn’t keep the money within a small tight circle of clubs.

The ESL would replace the Champions League and would be the primo European competition and would be the wealthiest league with the most TV money etc.

The idea is all the monied clubs are hived off so as not to bother the rest of us, and they can enjoy a genuinely competitive league themselves. But because of the domestic wage cap, a new side every season can get a dip at the big money and the already monied club coming down from the ESL can’t use it’s wealth to dominate once back in the domestic league. Players on big money would have to leave or accept a cut in wages in the hope of promotion back to the ESL next season.

If this was already in operation, we’d currently be enjoying a stonkingly tight league with a just a few points separating a dozen sides.

As clubs get bought up by billionaires, the rest of the clubs in the leagues are getting left behind. Something needs to happen to stop the whole concept of football being invalidated because of massive financial disparity.

How much longer do you want to see the same three or four clubs occupying the top places? It’s crushing the whole competitive nature of the game. It’s negating excitement and its preventing almost all clubs of having any chance of any success. In its place, mere existence is all that too many clubs have to look forward to. It’s true that hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way, but it needn’t be how football is run.

The ESL means we can enjoy the top sides playing equal, gripping contests to win their league. It will become the ultimate accolade to aspire to.

With this revolution everyone wins. All the currently big wealthy clubs get to make more money and play high profile football on the big stages. The rest of the clubs have real chance at success in the domestic leagues.

A clubs wealth doesn’t protect it once relegated out of the ESL. A wage cap means their clout is limited. They can only pay as much or as little as most other clubs.

An added side benefit of this is that players wouldn’t be so promiscuous because they would have no financial incentive to move to another club because once you were on maximum wage, you couldn’t get any more. This would also reduce the corrosive influence of agents who wouldn’t be able to benefit in agitating for players to move on.

It would also stop billionaires buying a club and pumping silly money in to buy players and running up big debts. The playing field would at last be much more even. Integrity to the game would be restored.

The only downside is that most clubs would never play the likes of Manchester United, so those big games against the big teams would be missing. However, that would be more than compensated by the real excitement of a proper league competition and the fact that all the ESL sides would play in the FA Cup, thus making those games a more rare and thus more glamorous occasion.

Something needs to change. Something radical. Every season is becoming like the last in every country in Europe as the same teams dominate and thus accrue more wealth while the rest have mere survival as their only motivation and ambition. Just surviving is not acceptable to fans and it shouldn’t be acceptable for clubs. It will, in time, kill the game as a competitive spectacle.

The European Super League is the solution; there are no losers and everyone wins. Ask yourself what the future will be unless something changes. All of us can already predict who will be the top 4 clubs for the 2007/8 season already. That shouldn’t be possible in a competition. The ESL, with promotion and relegation to and from the domestic leagues built into it, is the future of football but whether anyone in UEFA can grasp such a radical idea remains doubtful.

John Nicholson is the author of the exceedingly good “Footy Rocks” book (available now from his web site), and a veteran columnist for Football365. Nicholson resides in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. riocharlie

    December 19, 2006 at 9:59 am

    How about this, a wage cap on sports writers! Say 2 cents an article, sounds fair to me and about all your 2 cents are worth.

    While the top of the table is limited int he number of competing teams, there is fantastic competition for euorpean places and relegation. Your idea would deprive the fans of the 3 great matches from this past weekend: chelsie-evrton, arsenal-portsmouth, man u-west ham. I dont see Porto-Schalke having quite the same appeal.

    As for the money, I think it elevates the level of play for all teams as one ascends the other compete. If an owner cant compete, well time to sell, and we all know the money gives an advantage but not a guarantee.

    An alternative to a player wage scale to improve competitiveness would be a league rule limiting spending to a % of revenues. Teams would be free to exceed these limits but throw money into the pot for every pound or euro over the limit they went. That money would then be divided amongst the lower revenue producing teams. I really am not enamored with this either, but to me its a much better alternative to wage scales wich to me are anti competitive, unless of coarse its for sports writers.

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