Chelsea was founded in 1905, but they were part of some English First Division teams that decided to break away and form a new league with more financial gain in television and broadcasting rights. This breakaway was initiated to benefit the bigger clubs who felt they were too big to be in the same competitions are some other teams of lower financial status/capacity. The Premier League has been around for 29 years, and is now the most watched league in the world. More attention for the Premier League means money for the Premier League and its participants. This is why Premier League teams can afford to pay high wages to players who participate in it. After 29 years, only 7 teams have won it, with 49 teams participating altogether.
We all enjoy the Premier League now, and have gotten used to its popularity, but this does not mean that we should forget its origin and what it represents.
The idea behind the recently announced European Super League was the same idea behind the Premier League, though there are a few differences in the execution and the rewards for participating in it. Except in this case, instead of some English clubs feeling that playing a Luton Town (no disrespect to them) twice a year was not worth their time, it is now big clubs across Europe’s top five leagues feeling that playing in the same competition as Shakhtar Donetsk is beneath them.
Up to this point, it might not be clear yet where I stand, so I’ll state it. The European Super League is a bad idea and very bad for club football as we know it, but it cannot be ignored that when the bigger clubs broke away from the English First Division, the money followed them. They got TV deals as high as $3.3 billion as at the 2016-17 season. The European Super League participants stand to enjoy this kind of financial gain should they succeed in getting enough financial giants involved, and it seems they have.
The European Super League and the English Premier League have a few differences at face value, but are they really? The Super League has said that none of the 15 founding members of the League can get relegated, which means there’d be relegation, just not for certain teams. The Premier League is seemingly different in that anyone in theory CAN get relegated, but when you look at it more closely you’d see that that’s not really the case. There’s a reason certain teams are always in relegation battles and certain teams never have to worry about it. Chelsea did nearly get into one in the 2015/16 season under Jose Mourinho.
Arsenal are the most recent big club that flirted with some sort of a relegation scrap but in a few weeks it became obvious that they were not going to even worry about it one bit. Why? Resources. The bigger teams simply have resources that clubs consistently fighting relegation do not. An example is squad size and quality. Another example is coach quality. The bigger teams have the resources to recruit players of a certain level, simply by being able to pay more. Tottenham and Burnley would not be going after the same level of players.
By including certain teams in the Premier League, the founders of it indirectly ensured that certain clubs never worry about relegation, because there’d always be worse teams, with worse luck, with significantly less resources that don’t have the luxury to make season-defining purchases in the winter transfer window to save their season. They may even identify talent that can change their season, but having the money to purchase that talent is another issue.
The Super League and the Premier League essentially implemented the same model, or at least very similar models, only that the Super League explicitly stated that certain teams will never be relegated. There’d supposedly be five teams added to the Super League that would be potentially in danger of relegation.
Many of the big teams joining the Super League are aware of the power they hold. They know that wherever they go, the money will follow. This is why they should perhaps be persuaded, or at least negotiated with, rather than banned or punished, as a way to discourage them from going ahead with it. The financial difference between playing in the EFL Championship and playing in the Premier League is like night and day.
The Super League compared to League and European football is likely to be similar. It’s only logical. How sustainable the Super League model may turn out to be, is still yet to be seen. It’s not an outrageous assumption to make that it’s would be quite difficult to sustain, financially that is. It has enough big teams though, so it might not be that hard to sustain financially.
There’s irritation amongst football fans, and rightly so, about the formation of the European Super League, but in all of this, we would be perhaps naïve, to not admit that the Premier League that we all know and love – which our club has been a part of – was built with the same idea and motivation: Pride. Self-interest. Profit.