Just when you thought 2020 had used up its quote of mad ideas for the future of football, along comes the ‘European Premier League’ to rock the boat once more.
Barely a fortnight after Project Big Picture was laughed out of town comes this new concept that has reportedly been backed by FIFA, and which according to Sky Sports both Liverpool and Manchester United are already in talks for.
The European Premier League would initially comprise 18 teams, with home and away round robin fixtures played throughout the traditional season. As many as eight sides would then make it through to a knockout phase.
It might sound fanciful and not unlike many of the other ‘super league’ style ventures that have been rumoured through the years, but the difference is that the European Premier League is believed to have substantial financial backing – U.S. banking firm JP Morgan has allegedly promised more than £4.5 billion to get the project off the ground, while Spanish equity firm Key Capital Partners are also understood to be keen on investing.
It is believed that up to five English clubs will be welcome to apply for the European Premier League, which could begin as soon as 2022 given that it has FIFA backing.
As ever, the financial rewards for competing would be huge – far in excess of what can be earned through Champions League participation if the rumours of some of the key investors are to be believed.
And you wonder if the English Premier League and other top domestic divisions around the continent would be in jeopardy – 18 teams playing home and away fixtures would require 34 gameweeks, plus any additional time required for the knockout component.
Could the future of the English Premier League, La Liga and co be in doubt?
FIFA and UEFA Once Again Battle for Supremacy
The underlying ‘story within the story’ as far as the European Premier League is concerned is that it appears to be a concerted effort on the part of FIFA to muscle in on UEFA’s territory.
If successful, the new venture would clearly override the Champions League, which would not be able to put up the kind of prize money required to compete with some of the world’s biggest banks and private financing institutions.
That would mean that organisation of continental football would pass from UEFA to FIFA – from the frying pan into the fire, you might think – and that would certainly have ramifications for the beautiful game moving forward.
Remember, the Champions League is UEFA’s main vessel for making money – if it was abandoned by the biggest clubs in the world, the watered-down competition left in its wake would surely bring hard times upon European football’s traditional governing body.
This isn’t the first time that a ‘breakaway’ super league has been mooted, but typically these have been the brainchild of an egomaniacal entrepreneur intend on getting his or her hands in the pie.
The European Super League, o the other hand, is speculated to have some rather mighty institutional investment behind it, and that makes it a viable – and attractive – possibility for clubs not usually shy in selling their souls for a few quid.