Americans still stink at soccer after decades of trying and throwingat the problem to fund a space program. But nobody plays smash-and-grab better than we do. So it’s hardly a coincidence that , a discussion that went nowhere for years, were finally made public now that many U.S. owners hold the reins to some of the most legendary clubs. Never mind that the domestic leagues, destroy fan loyalties generations in the making, or drive a stake through the heart of the game’s enduring myth – that any team can rise or fall based solely on merit.
The guys behind the Super League are betting only suckers still care about that.
“By bringing together the best clubs and best players in the world,” the group said Sunday, “thewill deliver excitement and drama never before seen in football.”
This scheme is not about staging grand competitions – soccer already provides those in abundance – it’s a cash grab. It’s about cost certainty,, and essentially is guaranteed to turn a profit.
It would adopt the “closed-league” model thatpro sports in North America, including Major League Soccer; that is, once you’re in the club, no matter how lousy your team might be in any given season or season, no oneed to sweat getting dropped – the standard term is “relegated” – to a lower league. The spot is yours forever.
That’s why the late Art Modell, who owned the Cleveland Browns then, pulled then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue, aside before. He didn’t want the league’s new boss to get any fancy ideas about tinkering with the cash flow. , four are owned by Americans: English Premier League giants Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal, and Italy’s Serie A club AC Milan.
That’s no coincidence, either.
Over the past five years, wealthy American owners have surpassed their Chinese counterparts in the boardrooms of. The Yanks now hold significant stakes in one-fifth of the 60 teams playing top-flight soccer in the , Italy, and France, according to data from KPMG Football Benchmark.
The reason for the accelerating U.S. involvement is simple: NFL, NBA, MLB, and even NHL and MLS teams are comparatively costly already and boast boom-time valuations.
Theof those teams will get in at the ground floor of what looks like a very lucrative skyscraper. According to the group’s announcement, founding clubs will divide a $4 billion-plus (about 3.5 billion euros) by debt financing from JP Morgan Chase.
There’s no need, however, for fans of the beautiful game to start hyperventilating. Despite plans to start as early as this summer, theis no more than a mission statement.
It’s still trying to lure three more permanent members into signing up, and their first-choice members – Paris St. German of France’s Ligue 1, as well asand Borussia Dortmund of Germany’s Bundesliga – have distanced themselves from the proposal. The also hasn’t provided details on selecting a rotating cast of five teams annually to fill out the 20-team enterprise.
Just as menacingly, fans across the continent and the game’s European establishment have already begun. Both sides have lawyered up as threats are being volleyed back and forth. Aleksander Ceferin, the president of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, likened the proposal to “spitting in football fans’ faces” and backing from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, teams might be barred from the World Cup.
The pandemic devastatedworldwide and resulted in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars, especially to the elite clubs. And to be sure, European soccer could benefit from some reform. But the proposed more than the fat-cat owners’ already outsized slice of a pie that was over a century in the making.
Jim Litke is a.
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