Barcelona president Sandro Rosell’s recent comments that some sort of pan-national European Super League is being discussed ahead of the 2014 expiry of the ECA’s agreement with UEFA comes as the latest and boldest overture about an idea that has gone from far-off theory to potential reality.
Rosell proposed a reduction of top-flight space in the major European leagues to 16 teams, stating “We want a bigger Champions League and hope one day we could play perhaps Barcelona versus Manchester United on Saturdays. It’s something all of them would have to agree to. That includes the Premier League.”
Rosell’s ideas may have credence in some circles, mainly his own. But his unwarranted plan to completely change the fabric of the game, not only in Spain, but across Europe, in an overstepping of boundaries and a move to render the majority of clubs irrelevant in the decision-making process.
That Barcelona are the best club team in the world at present, and perhaps of all time, is quite simply undeniable. But their egregious attempt to dictate the infrastructure of the the continent’s most popular sport is again indicative of their selfish financial motives, which they have placed above the general welfare of the game.
To adopt their proposed reforms would be to disregard the huge majority of clubs both at national and continental level. The Champions League and the most successful domestic leagues – La Liga, the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, etc- undoubtedly bring in the most revenue and garner the most publicity on the global scale.
This issue needs to be put into perspective; to allow a country’s biggest clubs to completely control the domestic set-up based on the Champions League and all of its monetary rewards ignores the heart and soul of the game.
Wolverhampton Wanderers may never finish ahead of Manchester United, but they are a member of the English top flight whose rights cannot be denied simply because they do not have the financial clout other sides do.
Domestic leagues are in place to foster football in that country and develop young talent. In today’s global age, it is only logical that the best sides in the best leagues will be able to recruit on a national or even global scale, beyond their local base.
But whilst Manchester United or Chelsea may have this option, they are a part of the smallest fraction of clubs in England who are able to do this. To make this luxury the ruling law is akin to openly stating that those clubs who have the most money are in the real positions of power, no matter what the rest say.
Rosell’s reforms not only have a negative impact of the viability of the majority of European clubs, they guarantee their second-class stature in the eyes of their own football associations and UEFA.
The Champions League is easily the best competition in the world talent-wise, and its worldwide appeal has created an economic conglomerate. The winner of this tournament has every right to think of themselves as the best football team in the world, as the best players and coaches are found among the competitors.
To many fans, the aforementioned prospect of Barcelona v United on a much more regular basis is indeed mouth-watering. But the fact remains that those who support these clubs are a small percentage of fans.
Rosell’s ideas would fundamentally change not only the structure of the Champions League-which has clearly worked amazingly well in recent years-but would require a total re-jig of the national leagues in every country in Europe. The benefits for a select few would be huge, but the overall effect would be detrimental to most.