Who thinks Karl Heinz Rummenigge’s call for a breakaway from FIFA/ UEFA would not have happened anyway? He’s the president of the powerful European Football Association, the organization that ostensibly represents the interests all 197 clubs. Within that group the interests of nine clubs supersede all the rest. The idea of the top clubs breaking away and forming their own league is nothing new. It was first proposed by Fiorentina Perez in the Group of 14, the previous incarnation of the ECA.
Their bottomline then as it is now is to make more money without FIFA/ UEFA seeing a penny of it. As Matt Scott in the Guardian points out, FIFA generates revenue of $1bn through World Cup related events as millions over the world follow top drawer talent like Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Wayne Rooney. That is seed money for a future super league with 20 teams where the revenue is pooled like the NFL.
In effect, the future of European football is to be decided by a kleptocracy. Rummenigge’s focus on FIFA corruption as a driving force behind a super league fails to call for fixing the financial doping that is adding more debt to untenable levels with some of these clubs. Meanwhile without cutting down costs these clubs seek to increase revenue with skyrocketing prices on tickets and merchandise. There is no self policing within their own group which is why Michel Platini stepped in with his financial fair play rules.
In 2014 the MOU between the ECA and UEFA lapses and if no agreement is in place by then then the Champions League could fold and an alternative tournament with a select group of clubs competing for honours. This arrangement could end any international obligations of top players in the conventional sense. As Matt Scott points out the loss of the World Cup could be mitigated by a club version with players representing their countries. Alternatively, the national squads could be filled with second drawer talent to carry on the present version of the World Cup. It’s football’s version of the Kerry Packer circus magnified a billion times over.
The EPL’s success is the benchmark for this future league. There lies some of the problems as the European leagues and with it their clubs have different drawing power. The present divisions have proven little grounds for animosity and financial disagreements. A pooled super league works on the presumption that revenues generated are market blind. But that is not the case demonstrated amply by the EPL. There are huge differences between Arsenal and Chelsea in the way they do business. The Real Madrid and Bayern Munich models are equally disparate. In reality, the slices of pie should be larger for some clubs but the operating conceit here is they are cut equally. Monetary concerns behind the formation of a super league will rear their heads again after a sufficient lapse of time.