Uefa increasingly look weak as European clubs propose completely new approach



The final defeat of Uefa

By Tony Attwood

Although it is not what the English media is saying, the fact is that if ever there was a business model that anyone and everyone can see is doomed in its current form, it must be the Premier League.   And although kicking Manchester City out of the Premier League could help, the league would still be in a catastrophic mess.   Indeed, in seeing how much of a mess one only has to look at the report from Football Observatory into how much PL clubs have lost in the last five years.

By way of introduction, the Observatory report tells us that if a list is put together of the “100 most active teams on the transfer market over the last five seasons in terms of monetary trade volume” then England is easily the most represented country with 25 clubs, “of which only two have a positive net spending (Watford and Norwich City).”

It won’t come as any surprise to see that in terms of the amount of what they call “trade volume” Chelsea are at the top at (€2.0 billion) ahead of the now financially crucified Juventus (€1.56 billion), the utterly wrecked Barcelona which has sold its future TV rights to a finance company (€1.51 billion), Manchester City now at the heart of the Premier League enquiry into over 100 of its financial activities (€1.4 billion) and of course inevitably, state-supported Real Madrid (€1.27 billion).

So let’s have a look at the net transfer spending per club since the 2018/19 season, including those all important add-ons.  The figures show how many millions of Euros the clubs are down during this period, and covers all clubs in Europe, not just the PL.

  1. 749€M: Chelsea.   League position – 9th
  2. 670€M: Manchester United.  League position – 3rd
  3. 544€M: Arsenal.  League position – 1st
  4. 477€M:Tottenham Hotspur.  League position – 5th
  5. 435€M: West Ham United.  League position – 17th
  6. 422€M: Newcastle United.  League position – 4th
  7. 370€M: Aston Villa.  League position –  11th
  8. 355€M: Wolverhampton Wanderers. League position – 15th
  9. 337€M: Juventus.  League position –  10th*
  10. 313€M: Liverpool.  League position –  10th
  11. 271€M: Fulham.  League position – 8th
  12. 257€M: FC Barcelona.  League position –  1st**

*Following points deduction for financial irregularities

**Following sale of future TV rights for immediate payment.

Now combine this with the fact that Chelsea have just spent more in the last window that the rest of Europe put together, and it doesn’t need a pass in GCSE Maths to show that this is utterly unsustainable.   Which is why the news is now floating around Europe (but not much in England) that a new version of the European Super League is going to be announced soon.

The new idea incorporates promotion and relegation to a second and third (or even fourth) division with each club playing at least 14 games a season.  The story is all over the Spanish press, but I’ve not seen it in the UK media, (although I could have missed it having spent yesterday in hospital with an eye problem).   The key company behind this (the new league, not my local NHS hospital) is A22 Sports Management – with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus at the forefront.

Of course, the legal spat with Uefa is still ongoing, but any court ruling now looks irrelevant since the court rulings thus far don’t give Uefa the absolute right to run football.  Uefa could throw its toys out of the pram and ban all 92 clubs that have expressed an interest in the new format, but then that would simply diminish Uefa.

The fact is that the clubs in Europe are worried following Chelsea’s expenditure in January.  Everyone knows that a) they can’t keep up with Chelsea and b) Chelsea’s model of putting players on 10-year contracts is unsustainable, so something has to give.

Meanwhile clubs in Europe are now backing a plan to get rid of most football agents, who are blamed for raising the price and salary of players – which will leave agents free to do what they want with English clubs – but no one else.

And just as it is extraordinary that Manchester City thought they could get away with their approach to football forever, so it is extraordinary that every other club in England thought that the rest of football would allow the disparity between the Premier League and the rest of Europe to continue, forever.

Europe has a few clubs that can challenge the unending spending of the PL clubs, but with even Barcelona have been forced to spend much of their future revenue way in advance that doesn’t look sustainable.

But here is the big twist –

The new version of super league has NO ENGLISH CLUBS IN IT AT ALL

That would mean that while the big boys from around Europe are playing each other, if Uefa’s “Champions League”, “Europa League” and “Conference League” will be full of teams from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Andorra…

So what top players from across Europe will want to play in such a second rate Premier League?  Yes they will play in games like Arsenal v Tottenham, but they will want European exposure, and they won’t get it.

This shows the extraordinary weakness of the thinking by the English clubs that followed the media-backed fans uprising against the Super League.   It’s all very well saying “NO!” but not very clever to say that without thinking “OK what will the opposition do if we do say “NO!”?   

Indeed it shows a management style that has not evolved past “they need us more than we need them”.

Could Uefa with the Premier League stand up against a wholesale revolt across Europe?  Maybe, but player interest in playing in the PL in such circumstances would vanish.  Uefa will go back to court, but as we have seen this time, it can take years to see that through, and Uefa, following the massive embarrassment of having let Manchester City get away with it last time, has zero credibility.  

More than ever Uefa – and indeed the English media –  looks weak and out of touch.  Maybe they should do what we do, and follow the European media a bit.

5 Replies to “Uefa increasingly look weak as European clubs propose completely new approach”

  1. No, sorry, poor article. You use sarcasm against fans and media for opposing the super league yet were supportive of that fight at the time. You also ignore the fact European clubs, whilst envious of PL spending power are also beneficiaries of it and in some cases relying on it!

  2. @Silentstan,

    I cannot agree with your statement and you are missing the point of Untold Arsenal and all that has been written in the past ‘more then a decade’. If Tony is sarcastic abut anything that would be :

    – the utter state of mismanagement of the FA
    – the unlimited incompetence of PGMOL
    – the galactic stupidity and uselessness of the deadwood journalists in England
    – the many times amateuric management of PL clubs

    Never has he been sarcastic of fans as a whole.

    You are absolutely right to pojnt out the fact that many european clubs get cartloads of money for their players when they go to the PL and have to live with the fact that the Pl has so much more money that they cannot compete.

    Thing is, and no one talks about this subject, the PL is the ONLY competitor to te FIFA World Cup. Ther ain’t no other show running 40+ weeks a year that glues so many people to their TVs in the world. NONE. And you know what happens to any organisation that is leading any market : competition will eventually beat it. And the lack of respect in England to potential competitors means they will end up winning.

  3. Last night the PL tweeted at approx. 7PM UK time about the Man. Utd. v Leeds match later in the evening. The responses (and there were a lot of them), all seemed to refer to the fact that the match would not be televised, even though UK sports subscribers pay the highest fees in the world in order to watch only a subset of the matches.

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