From the Viewsroom

Football’s Packer moment

B Baskar | Updated on April 20, 2021

The European Super League is an unpleasant disruptor

Sounding a death knell for the current UEFA Champion’s League, 12 of Europe’s top football clubs will break away to form a new European Super League. This includes six from England — Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur — and three each from Spain and Italy — Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Three more clubs are expected to join to take the number to 15. Five more clubs will be allowed to join on a ‘qualification’ basis. Germany’s Bayern Munich, the current European champion, and France’s Paris St Germain have so far refrained from joining it. Investment banker JP Morgan will bankroll the new League by stumping up €3.5 billion.

These 12 clubs will be playing in a super league where there is no threat of their being relegated. The condemnation from various quarters has been swift and brutal. Leading the pack was former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, who said, “It is an absolute disgrace. Honestly, we have to wrestle back power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league, and that includes my club.”

Both UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron have condemned the move. The chief of UEFA (Europe’s governing body) called it “a spit on the face” of fans and warned of a ban of the players from the World Cup. Despite their popularity, pedigree, fan base and financial clout these 12 clubs are also groaning under a pile of debt made worse by the Covid pandemic. A league where they are inoculated from ‘relegation’ will seem like a financially mouth-watering one. So far these clubs have promised to remain part of their national leagues. But it remains to be seen how the respective national football governing bodies deal with this crisis.

Back in the 1970s, Australian media mogul Kerry Packer formed the World Series and disrupted the cricket world in a similar way. That crisis was resolved when Packer got the broadcasting rights for his Channel Nine. But this crisis is set for a long and acrimonious legal fight between the financial might of the clubs and the game’s governing bodies.

Published on April 20, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor