Early Doors

European Super League is not so super

Early Doors

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Many of you may already be aware, but Early Doors is a simple creature. Case in point: Its team came sixth out of eight in the annual Eurosport quiz last night. Fair enough, even it was partly by virtue of being penalised for knowing nothing about Strictly Come Dancing.

Anyway, being such a simpleton, it is hard for ED to understand why Europe's biggest clubs have re-opened the old discussion about breaking away from UEFA and forming their own competition. Yes, that's right, the old European Super League debate is rearing its ugly head again, although quite what is so super about it is difficult to fathom.

Oh wait, that's right - Freed from the constraints of the European governing bodies regulations and financial fair play rules, the giants of the continental game can create their own tournament which will be even more weighted in favour of the very biggest and richest than the Champions League already is.

This latest round of speculation has come from words emanating out of the European Club Association, the continental cartel of clubs forged from the ashes of the G14 which, ED is sure you will remember, was a union of 14 of the most successful clubs in history of the game, plus later additions Arsenal, Lyon, Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen, because they happened to be big at the time.

When that group was threatening to take steps toward founding its own competition, UEFA reached a compromise in which the Champions League was expanded and the G14 became the much broader ECA.

Bayern Munich president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is the man who has picked up the ball, dusted it down and run with it, and he has used the recent farrago surrounding FIFA as justification for any potential split.

He said: "Sepp Blatter is saying he is cleaning up the game, but the fact that no-one believes him, tells you everything you need to know. I'm not optimistic because they believe the system is working perfectly as it is. It is a money-machine.

"It is a nice game but it is decided by people who are corrupt. I am not ready to accept the system as it is and I am not alone."

Another ECA board member said later: "The fact that Bayern Munich, who have always been close to the institutions, are being so vocal and loud about the situation is a clear sign we're very close to breaking point.

"We have a memorandum of understanding with UEFA that expires in 2014. After that time we can no longer be forced to respect FIFA statutes or UEFA regulations. And we won't be obliged to compete in their competitions."

There are, of course, plenty of issues for clubs to take with those two bodies, chiefly that concerning the use of their players in international competitions and who pays for their insurance while they are away with their national teams.

But, in reality, that is a side issue. This is all about money. If the biggest clubs did not have to worry about complying with financial fair play then they would be free to spend whatever they wanted on transfer fees and wages without fear of reprisal.

Rummenigge is no doubt genuine in his disapproval of the mess at FIFA HQ, but why should he take out his frustration on UEFA? Under Michel Platini's rule financial fair play, a first step towards something approaches fiscal equality in football, has been implemented, and the Champions League has been partially amended to give clubs from smaller countries a better chance of making the group stages.

But that will not do for a self-serving gang that only craves more money and success in the short term, with little or no regard for the future. Do they really think that fans of Barcelona or Manchester United will get excited about a trip to Anderlecht, for example? It is difficult enough trying to drum up interest in a Champions League group match away to half-decent opposition, let alone a fixture set in the more drawn-out context of a full league.

The Argentine FA bending over backwards to try and bring recently-relegated River Plate back into the top flight shows that, all over the world, the biggest and richest will always be the most closely protected. Let's hope this mooted European reshuffle does not get off the ground.

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FOREIGN VIEW: "All signings have their due process. Some are easy, some are more complicated. He is an important player for Arsenal so it is sensible that they are trying to keep him. There has been a lot of talk about this, which is normal." - Gerard Pique admits Barcelona must be patient in their pursuit of Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Please, somebody, make it stop.

COMING UP: There will be plenty going on to get your teeth into throughout the day. Jim White and Paul Parker will be filing their latest blogs, and we will be revealing the winner of our poll to find the best striker in Premier League history and complete our Greatest XI line-up.

Away from football there will be coverage of both practice sessions ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, as well as live text commentary of the first day of the second Test between England and India at Trent Bridge.

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