Following the announcement of a breakaway league by 12 of the biggest teams in Europe, we explore what football could look like in five years time.
Football has undergone many changes over the years but maybe none as big as this. As 12 owners around Europe have decided to create their own breakaway league called the European Super League (ESL).
The strategic announcement was made to football fans late on Sunday night via Twitter and club websites. The backlash the clubs have faced since announcing their plan has been overwhelming. From former players to government officials voicing their disgust.
It is safe to say that stage one of their unveiling was not a success. As they have already been threatened by FIFA and UEFA. Yet, I imagine this reaction was expected and the owners have simply ‘taken the hit’. They know that they have dealt with the worse of it and in time people will only learn to adapt to these changes.
So, let’s imagine the cruel dystopian reality where this greed driven plan is allowed to happen. What will football look like?
First of all, what is the format of the ESL?
The ESL will get underway in August at the same time as the domestic leagues. There will be 20 teams, 15 of which will be permanently in the competition every year and five which will be teams who have qualified. These 20 teams will be split into two groups of 10, who will play each other home and away.
This means participating clubs are guaranteed to play 18 group games before the top three teams in each league qualify for the knockout stages. The teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in two-legged play-offs for the remaining quarter-final spots.
Once the group stage is completed, the knockout competition will look the same as the Champions League/ Europa League, featuring two-legged affairs in the quarter-finals and semi-finals before a one-off final as part of what the ESL are calling “a dramatic four-week end to the season”.
The problems arising
Now you understand the format, let’s dive deeper into this non-competitive competition. As 15 teams will be a permanent feature every year, this means that they will not need to qualify for the competition. Therefore deeming their own domestic league pretty pointless. In fact, it has already been hinted that these 15 teams won’t be welcome to play in their domestic leagues.
If this is the case then maybe the ESL should last a little longer. Why not? As more games means more revenue. To do this the ESL would need more teams. If no other teams in Europe want to join then there are still other continents. So, be ready for the European Super League to become the Global Super League (GSL). It would also solve the problem for players of these clubs not being allowed to play for their country. Yes that could be a punishment if this goes ahead!
Five years on…
Five years have passed and we now have the GSL. Teams from around the globe play at different venues around the world, in front of supporters who only turn up to watch the half-time shows. The teams are full of the best footballers and biggest names, and the teams are now called franchises. Sound familiar? A little like the NBA.
Badges and names will be changed, for example Manchester United will become the Red Devils and Old Trafford will knocked down, so they can build a stadium that seats 150,000 people, where ‘fans’ of these franchises can sit side by side in their franchise colours doing a Mexican wave. The money will come thick and fast.
There will be a new football pyramid. Where kids will dream of reaching the GSL draft. The Premier League will be a thing of the past and sadly forgotten along with anything else that ever happened in football. There will be no rivalries, no loyalties and little competition. There will still be 22 players on a pitch, kicking a football around, but there will be NO FOOTBALL.
If you would like to see a flip-side to this speculation, which looks at why the ESL could be a good thing for football, Click here.