With the announcement of the proposed European Super League yesterday, the question that arose next is “what will then happen next?”
And it is that question that is a fear for many.
At the moment, the ESL is being put forward as an alternative to the Champions League. The sides involved have made it clear they expect to continue playing domestic football and the ESL will take the place of the current European set up.
If it happens, with 15 of the 20 teams being guaranteed a spot, it will not be too much of a step for clubs to get their next wish.
No more domestic football
If the ESL begins alongside domestic football, the next logical step will be a full break away, with the 20 clubs involved stopping playing domestic football completely and just competing in their own, NFL style league.
Increase the size to 40 teams. Potentially creating new clubs. Each league with 20 teams playing each other twice a season. Top 8 in each league going into an end of season play-offs which results in a Super Bowl-esque final.
No promotion or relegation, but where you finish in the league massively impacts end of season prize money.
Playing across the globe
Instead of Arsenal playing their home games in London, Liverpool in Liverpool, and so on, football will go on the road.
Cities will “bid” for games in the same way they bid to host an F1 race. And each team will only play one “home” game in each city.
So this week it could be Arsenal v Liverpool in Sydney.
83,500 fans paying £250 a ticket to watch Arsenal in the Stadium Australia.
Ticket prices will be a premium because it will be the only chance those fans get to watch their team play in their city until the next year (or the play-offs if they make it)
That would generate north of £20million in ticket sales for a single game. A lot more than the £3.3million the Emirates makes.
And then next week it is Real Madrid v Arsenal in New York. Playing in the 82,500 MetLife Stadium. Another £20million banked.
Meanwhile in the same week, Stadium Australia is hosting AC Milan v Manchester United.
A different set of fans than the week before. It enables them to keep charging a premium for a “one off” experience.
And if it is two smaller teams, Tottenham v Atletico Madrid in New York, they will just use the Red Bull Arena. 25,000 fans. It will still generate double what the new White Hart Lane makes a game, despite half the population.
By limiting how often fans can see “their side” in their city allows authorities to charge a premium.
And the final? Well that is going to be £1,000 a ticket.
And with clubs now franchises and limited, it would be time to do away with transfer fees and just have an IPL style auction.
Lionel Messi wants to stay at Barcelona? That is fine. He just renews his contract for a year.
He decides he wants to play elsewhere, he enters the auction. Highest bidder get him for the year.
The year after, if he wants to stay at his new club, he negotiates a new deal. If he does not want to stay, he puts himself in to the auction again.
Players playing “domestic” football can also enter the auction.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has a great season for Everton. His contract with them has run out. He might decide the next season to enter the ESL auction.
Someone bids £10million for him, that is money in his pocket.
No one bids for him? He then searches the domestic leagues for a club who will take him. One will.
Players would no longer be tied to one club. They would move, potentially every year earning a big fee for themselves every single time.
And we are moving into an era where many players have as many fans as some cubs.
So Atletico Madrid go and spend big on Paul Pogba knowing that his arrival will see their fan base grow. Even if it just for one season.
More bums on seats, more shirt sales – because of course, with a franchised league the ESL will then look to bring in a single manufacturer. Get Adidas and Nike both bidding to make and distribute all shirts. With money filtering to clubs based on sales.
Whilst some of this might seem pie in the sky. It is where football could, and in my opinion will end up.
The ESL is driving by greed. Once the owners have their way, plans will begin on the next way they can “maximise profits from their assets”.
Move over NFL. Football is the biggest show on earth.