The Devil You Just Don’t Know Yet
Written by The Final Ball on 29/04/2021
Welcome to The Final Ball Blog! This is where we’ll have weekly a weekly detailed insight into the last week of sport for those of you who just couldn’t live by only listening to us for an hour a week!
And this week, we’re giving a complete focus to the story that rumbled Europe for a whole week, The Super League. It’s brought a world of controversy and outrage, so we’re going to unpick it for what actually happened and see where things will go next.
Firstly, the outrage. Did we really know what we were angry about? Because there’s only really one issue here, and that’s the lack of competitiveness that comes with the format. Yes, the founding fathers get the initial residence but that’s not something unheard of when you look into the history of most sports, especially football. History tends to get rewarded. Even as I type, these historic clubs get paid more money by UEFA irrespective of where they finish. Plus, you also have to remember that UEFA have two competitions that these clubs are attempting to leave, so in that regard, all of these teams are regular in Europe and do qualify for this league. The only real notion that had contention was the lack of relegation. But I don’t think this is how it was interpreted for those teams. The 5 qualifying teams weren’t expected to be the same quality as those bigger teams, especially considering the French & German teams were always going to be against it due to their ties to the fans (ultras, 50+1 rule etc.), plus Brexit has made Germany & France reluctant to put money in UK pockets. So realistically, the 5 teams were likely to range from Legia Warsaw to Young Boys FSC. This is where the arrogance starts kicking in. Even Arsenal didn’t expect to be anywhere near relegation as they expected a good number of teams across the continent to be worse than them. And to be honest, despite the lack of UCL presence since the 2009 semi-final, they have been in 4 of the last 5 UEL semi-finals, giving a massive contribution to their co-efficient. So, coming into this league would have given them confidence to finish mid-table, something that they’ve become accustom to. So why not do that whilst making £350 million a year? Why are football clubs/players the only people that we don’t like them making money? And even if they finished bottom, you expect that the rules would have to change, something that happens in these competitions year after year.
So the kinks of this concept, when compared to the new UCL format, could have easily been tweaked and made easier to digest. So what went so wrong? Firstly, the timing seems silly. If they had let UEFA put out their reforms first, they would have soaked up a lot of the anger, and all of a sudden, the ESL becomes an intriguing alternative. Then, the PR. You can understand the Spanish & Italian clubs as they believe they own their respective countries, but you would think that English clubs with American owner would have planned the PR behind this better. This is something that has been planned since the start of the year, and the idea has existed since Perez first took over in 2009. So the fact that there was no marketing behind this, and none of the English owners came out with as much as a statement. It feels like none of them really believed in this idea, they just saw European clubs creating an opportunity to make money, and they all jumped on the train. Some quicker than overs, some never quite got their foot off the platform, they just hung onto the bar and ran along the train.
Keeping on the train analogy, the fans firmly stood in the way at the platform, and wedged steel in front of the breaks. Their passion has unfortunately misguided by the same institutions that have treated them as customers since 1992. Pandora’s box was opened long before a couple of Billionaire’s decided that they wanted to make more money. It was probably around the moment when people spent 7 figure sums on a human being and charging people £70+ to watch them from 400m+ in the sky. I would love to believe that there’s an element of duty to the fans but we’ve already become followers. We can no longer expect someone to invest in something and not get anything out of it. Even the fans clamouring for new owner; what owner with morals has £2 billion lying around? Anybody that has that amount of money has done something immoral to gain it. Made business decisions to increase the amount. Defeated their competition by making decisions that have exploited customers. So whoever takes over is likely to be the devil that you just don’t know yet. They might come in and find a way to create the same league but play the games worldwide in a even greater money-grabbing scheme.
So what can we do next? Fines and point deductions have always been the mantra but as UEFA have already paid those teams for returning so that feels redundant and point deductions means quite a few of these teams won’t even be in Europe next season, further de-valuing the product UEFA is selling. You imagine personal fines would end up being “money laundered” into the clubs, so the punishment will ultimately end up punishing fans and players. There isn’t really anything that you can do. We signed up to whatever these big companies decide and although the train was stopped from going down this path, where it’s going will probably not be anything that we like either.