By Tony Attwood
According to Der Spiegel Arsenal has been invited to be a founding members of a new European Super League which will launch in 2021. Of the other PL clubs that gained a place in European competitions this season, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City are also invited, but Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley are not. The newly proposed competition aims to replace the Champions League.
Also part of the new Super League competition will be Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Milan. Additionally there will be a set of guest clubs seemingly elected each year based on performance within their own national league: Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Marseille, Internazionale and Roma fall into this category, thus making a league of 16 teams.
The report says that the 11 “founding teams” will become the permanent base of the new league and would be guaranteed a place in the league for 20 years. The guest clubs could be relegated however and replaced season by season by other teams from around Europe, although there is no suggestion as yet as to what mechanism could make this happen.
Clearly with England already having five teams in the League (more than any other country) there would be pressure from other clubs not to increase the English supremacy still further.
The League would be under the control of the clubs and not subject to the whims of Uefa, and thus would determine its own schedule, which could possibly clash with international matches.
The 11 foundation clubs would all then be part of a company registered in Spain that would market the league and sell its games to TV. Or, given the power it is going to have, it could even have its own TV channel which is available around the world.
It is also suggested that a second tier league could also be constructed, operating as a second division although not necessarily with promotion and relegation between the leagues.
Aleksander Ceferin, President of Uefa has already said that he would not allow the creation of a super league in Europe, although it is difficult to see what could be done if the clubs simply set up the league and withdraw from Uefa’s competitions.
Uefa could demand that the clubs in the Super League must be ejected from their national leagues, or that players in Super League clubs be banned from playing internationals, but in effect this is not within Uefa’s remit.
If the Premier League refused to comply Uefa could eject England, Spain, Germany and Italy from the Champions League but that would just punish clubs that are not part of the Super League. They could eject England from European competitions, but the FA would argue that they have no control over the clubs – which is quite true.
That Arsenal have been placed in this elite group – whether it comes into existence or not – is very much a tribute to the work of Arsene Wenger at the club. If we look back to the time before he came to Arsenal, we were occasional participants in Europe, nothing more. After he joined the club, Arsenal became permanent members of the European elite, and are the team with the second longest run in the Champions League, behind only Real Madrid in this regard.
Also contributing to Arsenal’s proposed position in the League as a permanent member is the existence of its modern stadium with its 60,000 plus capacity – again something achieved during Mr Wenger’s time at the club.
Here is the 16 club league by country
England: (5) Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City
Spain: (3) Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid.
Germany: (2) Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund.
Italy: (4) Juventus, AC Milan, Internazionale, Roma.
France: (2) Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille.
The long term financial implications of the league for the clubs are massive, for these 16 teams will be assured of huge payouts year after year, and with prudent financial management the clubs will move ever further away from those who don’t become founder members.
Arsenal, in the 22 years before Mr Wener joined the club, were European minnows, competing in the European Cup once, the Uefa Cup three times, and the Cup Winners Cup three times, winning the CWC once.
In the 22 years with Mr Wenger in charge Arsenal appeared in the Champions League 19 times in succession – a record only beaten by Real Madrid. In his first season in charge Arsenal appeared in the Uefa League as a result of coming fifth in Bruce Rioch’s season. In that season Arsenal finished 3rd in the league and so again participated in the Uefa League. Thereafter it was always the Champions League until Mr Wenger’s final season when we played in the Europa League.
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