The brief European Super League saga was among the most unprecedented attempts at monopolizing an entire sport. Few sports have the global reach of soccer. While the international appeal is part of the success, the biggest clubs are already among the most profitable in the world. When the powers that be shut down the six top teams, however, the Premier League and the Football Association came down hard. Each team must pay a hefty sum for their transgressions.
The European Super League of villains
CBS Soccer chronicled the two-day Super League saga back in April. It all started on the afternoon of April 18, when several major outlets reported a league announcement. According to them, Real Madrid boss Florentino Perez spearheaded this. The plan involved Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan, and AC Milan banding together to form their own league.
Many saw it as a problem that benefited only the owners of the biggest teams in sports, many of them American, and bad for everyone else. When rumors spread throughout the soccer world. The initial proposal wanted 20 top teams, 12 already signed on, to face each other in an ultra-competitive setup every year.
It seems like a good plan. But many people noted it could alienate the fans who don’t cheer for top teams. Concerns also include the league getting an unfair monopoly on the greatest players and teams in the world.
The domino falls
After behemoths like FC Bayern refused to join, detractors got louder and louder. Fans hated it, uninvolved teams hated it, and higher-ups in European football hated it, too. Several players spoke out, including Liverpool’s Elland Road, who wore a “Football is for the Fans” shirt in protest.
Further protests caused a delay for a Premier League match between Chelsea and Brighton. With so much bad press, Manchester City eventually pulled out. This caused a domino effect, ending with the entire project being nixed and the UEFA’s president calling it a “huge mistake,” per The Boston Globe. Now, the six teams who spearheaded the whole thing are getting their comeuppance.
The other shoe drops
According to NBC Sports, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham were seen as the harbingers of the entire ordeal. So the Premier League and Football Association cracked down hardest on them. They released a statement announcing that those six teams would receive punishments for trying to stage the sports coup.
“The six clubs involved in proposals to form a European Super League have today acknowledged once again that their actions were a mistake and have reconfirmed their commitment to the Premier League and the future of the English game … They have wholeheartedly apologized to their fans, fellow clubs, the Premier League, and The FA.”
Sports teams typically get a slap on the wrist for even the most egregious violations. However, this was not the case. European soccer benefits from having multiple leagues and powerhouses throughout the continent. A Super League would diminish those leagues and keep everyone away from the others. As such, they received a $31 million fine for the attempted monopoly.
“As a gesture of goodwill, the clubs have collectively agreed to make a contribution of [$31 million], which will go towards the good of the game, including new investment in support for fans, grassroots football, and community programs … Furthermore, the clubs have agreed to support rule changes so that any similar actions in the future would lead to a 30-point deduction.”
With such a steep fine, a new version of the Super League is unlikely to happen. Superteams are often decried for ruining the overall product of a given league. And a bigger version of that could have terrible consequences for all. Luckily, it appears to have subsided. With the UEFA and Premier League putting the hammer down, it sends a message beyond European soccer to sports as a whole.