To see how the European Super League will change football, look to America
For many people in the football world, the three most dangerous words in the English language now are: “European Super League”. On Sunday April 18, 12 of England, Italy and Spain’s most famous clubs announced that they would break away from the existing structures that govern European football to form their own league backed by the banking giant. Wall Street investment, JP Morgan Chase. .
The creation of this European Super League (ESL), where some of the richest and biggest clubs in the world will compete exclusively in a closed and tightly controlled format, has come as a shock to many – including some of the top officials of the world. sport. But given the relentless and thorough marketing of the beautiful game in recent years, it was also ominously predictable.
From ever-increasing ticket prices and leveraged buy-backs to scheduling matches at odd times to accommodate TV shows, football – and European football in particular – is increasingly geared towards profit compared to all other considerations.
Lessons from the United States
For many of us football fans in the United States, the ESL plan is sadly familiar. According to documents leaked and viewed by the Financial Times, the proposed model “closely resembles the structure of the major American sports leagues.”
Most of the major sports leagues in the United States operate essentially as closed, centralized cartels – like the one ESL is apparently trying to create. In other words, the American “ leagues ” are actually separate business entities, which can (and often do) negotiate TV and sponsorship deals, control team merchandising, determine where teams will play, and who can own, and define and enforce many rules, team business operations, salaries, etc.
The gist of this structure is that there is no promotion or relegation. The same teams compete against each other year after year and new teams are only allowed if the league decides to expand or if a group of ownership is allowed to move an existing team to a different city. The former is relatively rare, especially in the modern history of the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA) – none of which have added any teams since. late 1990s or early 2000s. The latter case is more common because wealthy landowners often move teams when they are unable to extract enough public grants from local communities (for things like new stages). Recent examples in the NFL include the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers who both moved to Los Angeles, and the Oakland Raiders who moved to Las Vegas.
This anti-competitive structure is specifically put in place to entrench elite control over both decision-making and profit, and illustrates the monopoly tendencies inherent in capitalism. By combining a closed cartel structure with profit-maximizing values, America’s sports leagues are able to ensure that economic benefits flow primarily to a small group of wealthy landowners rather than workers or communities.
“In short, the reason American sports are all organized like cartels is that team owners can make a profit,” writes Tim Worstall of the Adam Smith Institute. “Without the cartels, all the money would go to the players.”