The creation of the European Tremendous League was clearly money-driven, however complaints are too few, too late, too lame
In 2008, a wealthy, football-loving gentleman named Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan – better known as Sheikh Mansour – invested a small portion of his huge fortune in buying a mediocre English football club called Manchester City.
Man City cost Sheikh Mansour about $ 293 million, which seems like a lot, but given his family’s estimated $ 1 trillion worth and an estimated $ 17 billion stake, that was a bit more than a tip. Let’s put it this way: Sheik Mansour owns a boat that is worth roughly twice what he paid for City.
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With the sheik’s fortune, Manchester City transformed from a team that had won two English premier league titles since its inception in 1880 and never qualified for the modern version of the UEFA Champions League to one that won four Premier League titles Qualified for the Champions League from 2012 to 2019 and 10 times in a row.
Complaining about the influence of money on European football is about as late as declaring that rock and roll will corrupt our youth.
The announcement on Sunday of the creation of the Super League – an annual competition that would effectively replace the UEFA Champions League – undoubtedly promised a revolutionary change in the dynamics of European football. However, those who feared it as a waiver of the principle of “sporting merit” missed the entire film. Sporting merit has not been the guiding principle in European play for more than two decades. Maybe it was important once; if so, it was before any of this was aired regularly in America.
“Sporting merit” now only stands for the annual reorganization of lounge chairs, which for example in the English Premier League includes the promotion of three teams from championship competition to EPL and the downgrading of three other teams to championship.
Many fans of the European game have long fetishized the concept of promotion and relegation. Some Americans have even refused to accept Major League Soccer as that nation’s national league because it doesn’t interfere in such a process. Everyone gets their entertainment a little different, but it always seemed absurd to watch teams celebrate a 17th place in the Premier League because it means “staying awake”.
With the exception of Leicester City’s staggering run of promotion to longtime Premier League champions in 2016, the promotion / relegation concept had little impact on competition for the league title. Since 1996, every Premier League champion but one has been claimed by one of the six English clubs that wanted to become founding members of the Super League. In Spain, every 2005 La Liga title has been won by either FC Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid, the three Spanish clubs that have entered the Super League train. The Super Leaguers AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus have won every Serie A title in Italy since 2001.
Where is all this “sporting merit” included?
Money dictated everything that happened in the modern era of world football. Any sport that avoids the introduction of a salary cap is primarily a competition about who can spend the most money wisely. This is what the US has in baseball, where teams in cities that don’t have ample local broadcast revenues are far less involved in championship competition. And that is what has dominated all of Europe’s top football leagues for the past 20 years.
Real Madrid’s original collection of Galacticos – Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Claude Makelele – was put together through the combination of the club’s wealth and brand appeal. Luis Figo, one of the most iconic members of the group, joined Real for a world record transfer fee of $ 72 million. He left Real’s fiercest rivals, Barcelona. And yet he was there on Monday, complaining bitterly about the “greedy and callous” maneuver to start the Super League.
Sheikh Mansour was neither the only nor the first new Premier League owner to completely change the chemistry of the club he acquired. Roman Abramovich, who mostly made billions in the oil business, bought Chelsea FC in 2003 and immediately invested in the acquisition of players like Makelele, Joe Cole and Hernan Crespo. Chelsea finished second that season, won the league a year later and added four more EPL titles and a Champons League trophy.
Although Bayern Munich firmly opposed the concept of the Super League when it was founded, we shouldn’t pretend that it didn’t benefit almost obscenely from its stature and wealth. Although the front office showed a flair for football in the search for Alphonso Davies with the Vancouver Whitecaps and the redesign of a wild left-back, FC Bayern has won eight titles in a row in the Bundesliga by convincing the best players from other German teams has to join the heavyweights. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, striker Robert Lewandowski and midfielders Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka began their careers at less glamorous German clubs.
The best football players in the world are both rewarded and punished by the system. Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos said in November when the Super League was mentioned as an opportunity: “We’re just puppets of FIFA and UEFA. If there was a players union, we wouldn’t be playing against the Nations League or Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia. … you don’t think about the players. The Nations League and Club World Cup are competitions designed to make as much money as possible at the expense of the players. “
The Super League will expand the requirements for the best players in the game. The best national leagues in Europe usually play 38 games. The Champions League is a 13-game commitment for those who advance to the final. And then there are the various national cup competitions. Then there are the four-year monthly World Cup and Euro tournaments as well as the lengthy qualification process for each tournament. The Super League will meet this requirement of the Champions League and almost double it.
Everyone is paid to do it. If the Super League proves to be as profitable as the founders expect, the best players will continue to pursue positions with the clubs involved. And it’s possible holdouts like Bayern and Borussia Dortmund can’t ignore the appeal.
It is not easy to invent prestige, but the involvement of the best established clubs and best players in the world shows that the process will not be prolonged. The examples of college football’s BCS championship game and college football playoffs show that a championship that even suggests legitimacy will be adopted by those who worship the sport in question.
Hey, if Manchester City can find their way to the top of the European game, there is every reason to believe that City and the other founders of the Super League can buy the affection of the world’s football fans.