European football starts for The Arsenal today as we face Rapid Wien away this evening – a 17:55 kick off.
Earlier this week we had the leak that Manchester United and Liverpool, amongst others, were in talks with financers to discuss the possibility of a “European Premier League”.
According to Sky Sports, the key details are:
A European Super League has been mooted for decades.
Talk often increases when domestic clubs want a bigger slice of the pie, and use it as a threat to national federations.
It is no surprise that this has been leaked shortly after the Premier League rejected Liverpool and Man U’s “Project Big Picture” .
This is the two northern clubs way of saying “if we do not get our way, we will go it alone”.
The problem is, a European Super League with no relegation will never work. It is why it has not happened yet.
Promotion and relegation is the key sticking point.
Winning the league, qualifying for Europe, the Play offs and relegation keeps teams interested for the majority of the season. It is what keeps fans watching, keeps fans entering the ground.
You remove promotion / relegation and within 5 or 6 games many of the matches become pointless.
Say Arsenal lose their first 5 games. Already 15 points off the top. Not going to win the league. Unlikely to make top 4 for the end of season play-offs. Why would Arsenal bother to put out a strong XI for the remaining 29 games?
With proposals that a super league would take the place of the Champions League and run alongside the Premier League, Arsenal would be best off putting out their youth team and leaving the strongest XI for the domestic games.
And then all of a sudden you have Bayern Munich facing Arsenal B. The integrity of the competition will be bought into question.
Whilst the theory is “everyone will want to tune in to watch Barcelona v Manchester United”, would then many be bothered about watching 17th place Porto face 18th place Marseille, both of whom are putting out 2nd string sides as they know they do not have a chance of winning it?
The odds of a Porto winning the league are dramatically reduced when you have to play every side twice. A lucky penalty, a strong rear-guard action, a favourable draw no longer work in your favour ala knock-out football.
So we will end up in a situation where by Christmas, half the sides in the European Premier League are putting out B teams, and fans have lost interest.
So we have had Project Big Picture rejected, and I am sure the European Premier League will go the same way. What this leaves is “competitive games abroad”.
Competitive games abroad has been mooted a few times over the years. Most recently Game 39 in the late 00s, that was finally put to bed in 2014.
With COVID19 restrictions in England, games abroad could rear its ugly head again.
In the second half of the season, if games are still not being played in England, it could be proposed that fixtures be taken to “COVID19 safe countries” where crowds are admitted.
Whether this be across Asia, Russia, America or Australia.
It would be proposed that these are games that would currently be held behind closed doors, so domestic fans would not be missing out. Clubs would be taking advantage of the opportunity to take the Premier League around the globe. Playing in front of packed houses in countries that allow capacity crowds.
The issue is this would not be a one off. It would open it up to happen the year after. And so on.
Project Big Picture and a European Premier League are non-starters. The real fear is the second half of the season is played abroad. It would be a pandora’s box that could never be closed.