View from Europe on European Premier League: It’s been coming but is still sickening
After the blockbuster news of the European Premier League, being championed by Liverpool and Manchester United, we asked our colleagues in Europe to get their views on how the big clubs in their countries will react to this. It’s clear that some countries are more in favour than others but is anyone going to say no?
The badges of Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Paris St-Germain and FC Barcelona
England: This has been coming but it doesn’t make it any less sickening
Look, this has been on the cards for some time now. Project Big Picture was one of the first revelations made public but English clubs have rumoured to be involved in a European Super League type format for some time now.
If the reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic has taught fans anything it is that all clubs care about is their profit margins. Should this come as a surprise? Perhaps not, but the pandemic has really been a brutal wake-up call in terms of how detached from reality these clubs are.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes a selfie with Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer owners of Manchester United
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The brilliant marketing of the Premier League since the turn of the century has seen it become the richest league in the world, by some distance as well. This new project would take the revenues of the top five or six clubs in England to a whole new stratosphere. Given how much money will have been lost because of the virus, expect this to pick up even more traction, but don’t be fooled, this has been in the works for a while, the clubs have merely spotted a window.
Even if you are someone who has been sadly resigned to this possibility it doesn’t come as any less of a gut-punch. It’s a sickening money-grab and it goes against everything that football should stand for. It’s just the big clubs protecting their interests and their bank accounts.
Italy: Agnelli’s dream
Perhaps no major European football chief has been more vocal in his support this idea than Juventus CEO Andrea Agnelli. As the head of the European Club Association Agnelli proposed the European Super League.
“It has been no secret that Juventus' CEO Andrea Agnelli has always expressed the desire to implement a reform regarding a European Super League,” says Alessandro Brunetti of Eurosport Italy.
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“The bianconeri, in this sense, would represent the Italian set-up certainty within the new competition.
“The other two Italians that would expect to be invited would be Internazionale and AC Milan.
These are the two teams with which Juventus chiefs have intensified relations in recent months.
“Napoli remains out of the way, with the Azzurri president Aurelio De Laurentiis never showing a positive reaction to the project when presented by Agnelli himself.”
The two Milan sides are particularly fascinating. They were left in Juventus’ wake for so long that it seemed inevitable that they would push for this sort of thing to bring them back to the top table.
But over the last 18 months or so there has been real improvement from both sides. Does that mean they push even harder now for this project? Or do they back themselves in the Champions League?
Germany: Bayern won’t be seen to be pushing this
Similar to France, Germany might only send one or perhaps two clubs. The difference of course is that the German club is Bayern Munich, the current European champions.
“Bayern Munich is, was and have always been against a 'European Superleague',” Eurosport Germany’s Florian Bogner says.
“They will always instead commit themselves to the Bundesliga and the national (fan) approach.
This will of course be forgotten if all the other big clubs are doing it.
“But Bayern won't be the ones pushing it, that's almost for sure.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge vom FC Bayern
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“Bayern will talk - definitely. Their self-image is to be involved in every backroom talks. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge sees himself as a leader of the big European clubs, that's why he used to be the ECA boss (and still is an honorary chairman).
“But they won't force a Superleague, at least never in public.
“I assume Dortmund will be invited, yes. They are good politically with Hans-Joachim Watzke
“It’s the same premise as Bayern. If all the big clubs are doing it, they will do it as well - but they won't push it.”
Spain: Count us in!
As for Spain, one would imagine the big two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, would be invited along with Atletico Madrid. Real in particular have been vocal about this sort of proposal.
“These clubs would be in favour of the new super league, for sure,” says Enrique Sanchez of Eurosport Spain.
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“When some similar projects have been discussed in the past they were already involved, so it's logical to be in this new one.
The main issue here it's the money. And in a moment such as this one, with the Covid-19 crisis, big clubs would be in favour of making more money with new projects.
“Barcelona has a lot of debt and the stadium project is a little stuck.
“Real Madrid has a potent economy right now but it is not making big transfers and also building the new stadium.
“And Atletico is balancing every euro spent in the transfer market so they would love to have more income.”
France: PSG only?
France are perhaps in the most unique situation of all the five major nations. There’s no question PSG would be included, and you can be sure that they are a driving factor here, but what about the other clubs?
As Julien Pereira of Eurosport France points out, it’s complicated.
“If this Super League only brings 18 clubs, I think only Paris Saint-Germain can be included. Lyon and Marseille are not 'powerful' enough to be part of this project.
“There is no doubt that Paris Saint-Germain are in favour of this Super League. PSG has the same thinking as the other big European clubs: it is a company which thinks above all about increasing their revenue.
“At the sporting level, Paris has been more interested in its European meetings than Ligue 1 for a long time.
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“Regarding Lyon and Marseille, the situation is more complicated.
“In a previous project revealed by the Football Leaks, Lyon was not among the clubs selected to play the Super League.
“Jean-Michel Aulas, club president, was offended: "Since I was president of the G14, this subject has come back like a sea serpent. And the Super League has never been created. I imagine that it is those who do not always respect the rules of financial fair play who can imagine freeing themselves from them by creating private leagues and choosing who can or no participate. I absolutely do not believe in it."
"For him, it's simple: if Lyon is dismissed, he will be indignant. But we imagine that he would very much like to participate. OL are going through a difficult period both sportingly and economically. Joining the Super League would be a godsend.
“Marseille has a real past in the European Cup. They are the only French club to have won the Champions League, and it is still one of the most popular clubs in France.
"OM have enormous financial difficulties, the Super League would be an additional lifeline. Moreover, some more or less founded rumours say that if Frank McCourt, the owner of the club, refuses to sell OM for the moment, it is because he fantasizes about a Super League.
"The idea must please him: he is American and the Super League looks like a North American competition!”
From a moral perspective this is obviously a bad look. Football hasn’t necessarily shone itself in a good light during the pandemic: just look at how much money was spent by English clubs in particular in the window just gone.
It’s just another sad step towards football completely losing its soul, if it hasn’t done so already.
Even from a competitive perspective it smacks of big clubs cowardice. If this format was put in we would never get brilliant stories such as Roma, Ajax or Atalanta.
If these big teams are scared of these smaller clubs beating them in the Champions League perhaps they should wake up and start operating in a more efficient manner.