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Could COVID-19 See The European Super League End The Champions League’s Reign?

T
he financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sporting world have been well-documented, and now reports have emerged the long-debated European Super League could help solve financial headaches for Europe’s top football clubs.

Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, recently said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on European football has provided the cause for the European Super League to emerge.

“Nothing will ever be the same,” Perez said.

“The pandemic has changed everything; it has made us all more vulnerable and also football.

“Football needs formulas that make it more competitive and exciting.

“[Madrid] has participated in all the innovations and has protected these innovations in our sport.

“The club was the sole founder of FIFA in 1904 along with seven country federations, and in 1955 collaborated with L’Equipe to promote the creation of the European Cup, a revolutionary moment that changed the history of football.

“Without all these changes, football could not have been what it is today, but we need a new change.

“Football has to face this new era and that’s what Madrid will do, to defend the fans.

“The fans themselves are faced with a saturation of the calendar that makes everything very difficult, even identifying the competition that is being played.

“There are players who are injured by this saturation.

“Football reform cannot wait and must be faced.

“We have a responsibility to fight for this change.

“The new generations consume more content.

“They must improve competitiveness and quality,” he said.

The top European clubs, in the past, have proposed a model for the European Super League similar to the Euroleague basketball model, with the proposal including a free-for-all league with 34 matches with the best eight teams of a potential 16-18 competing for a final title in a single venue.

Speaking in December, UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, said Perez has not fully considered the long-term effects of the European Super League, which would include complications for the UEFA Champions League and Europa League.

“Despite the complications, we’ve managed to host over 1,200 games this year without any major incidents,” Ceferin said.

“This has been a dream for Forentino Perez for some time now.

“Two of the FC Barcelona presidential candidates are against the idea as are Bayern Munich and some of the English clubs.

“Too many people are looking at this in the short term.

“He [Perez] only watches football today, maybe tomorrow, but does not go beyond,” he said.

Despite the concerns for the long-term sustainability of European football, the proposals for the new competition would see all the involved teams still permitted to compete in their existing competitions.

Currently, the current agreement with UEFA on the international match calendar is due to expire in 2024, and reports have emerged Europe’s top clubs have already begun talks with UEFA regarding the distribution of UEFA Club Competitions (UCC) revenue.

Speaking about the prospect of a European Super League and what it would mean for clubs in the English Premier League, Football Supporters’ Association chief executive, Kevin Miles, told Goal the financial gap between the top clubs and the bottom clubs will grow further.

“European fixtures are already the biggest distortive factor in the competitiveness of domestic competitions, including the Premier League,” Miles said.

“The Premier League has a distribution model which has been relatively flat, with relatively being the key word.

“A big chunk of their money is shared out equally.

“You then have the competition prize money, which is determined by where you finish in the league.

“However, there was an element of the wealth being shared among all the clubs, and an element of solidarity with the rest of the pyramid.

“But every time there is a proposal for a European Super League, and it gets knocked back, there follows an appeasing adjustment in the Premier League in favour of the biggest clubs.

“The last time it happened, there was a change in the distribution of international broadcasting rights revenue.

“So, a bigger proportion went to the big clubs.

“With this latest threat, what we’re likely to see is a reduction in the size of the Premier League, from 20 teams to 18 or even 16, meaning fewer domestic games but more space for European fixtures, which will only shift the balance even more in favour of those playing in UEFA competitions,” he said.

Recent reports on the latest European Super League proposal have suggested JPMorgan Chase & Co. is in talks to provide financial support for the competition, contingent on expectations of a lucrative broadcast contract for the Super League.

The initial clubs that have been reported to be offered permanent membership spots in a new European Super League competition include Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Juventus, but all of the clubs have refused to comment on their potential involvement.

When asked about the potential creation of the European Super League, Manchester United executive vice chairman, Ed Woodward, said the club is “at the centre of discussions about the future of European club competitions”, with most of his time dedicated to strengthening existing UEFA competitions.