Risk of Super League to England’s football system ‘needs greater consideration’

Tom White, PA Sport Data Journalist
·3-min read

The proposed Super League could pose a “fundamental risk” to England’s football system, according to a finance expert at Deloitte.

Twelve clubs from England, Spain and Italy announced on Sunday that they plan to join a breakaway competition.

Tim Bridge of Deloitte’s Sports Business Group feels there is no going back from the statements, which came on the eve of a vote over a new format for the Champions League.

“There’s clearly something gone on within those discussions around reform of the Champions League that’s led to this position,” Bridge told the PA news agency.

“I’ve always felt as though it may have been used as a tool within negotiations but it feels as though we may be past that stage.

“There is a very clear statement, 12 clubs who are aligned – they’re 12 of the bigger clubs around Europe, the highest revenue-generating, the most influential with the largest fanbases.

“They’ve made a very clear statement of intent and I don’t quite know how you go back from that.”

Reaction to the announcement was swift and overwhelmingly negative, with UEFA and the three countries’ leagues and football associations vowing to stop the new competition while ex-Liverpool and Manchester United players Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville branded their respective former clubs “an embarrassment” and “a disgrace”.

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Football Supporters Europe, as well as individual fan groups from many of the clubs involved – including United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – have also condemned the move.

Bridge acknowledged that will worry the clubs but admitted the appeal of the fixtures involved may override all other concerns.

He said: “Probably there will be an element of shock at the response of the European fanbase – I would certainly be concerned, if I was in the position of these clubs, at the way their core fans have reacted.

“I would imagine it feels very painful for those fans to see this decision being made at a point where it’s been 12 months since most fans went to a match.

“There may be enough confidence that the international market and fans all around the world will want to engage with this competition.

“If I sit here now and I think about Manchester United versus Barcelona at Old Trafford – do I think that game will be sold out? Probably. Do I think it will be on global television? Yes, I do. And do I think there’ll be a clamour from sponsors to be associated with that type of game? Yes I do.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba, centre, battles for possession with Barcelona's Lionel Messi in the Champions League
Manchester United and Barcelona are among the 12 teams in the proposed new competition (Nick Potts/PA)

“So ultimately, I do see the business sense. However, there’s some fundamentals that I don’t understand and that probably need greater consideration than it appears they’ve been given.

“The fundamental risk of what this may do to the overall football system is one that I would have hoped is too big to not be considered.

“You could argue that the disparity between a club in the Premier League and League Two is too big – but the reality is that the money a League Two club makes at the moment, a proportion of that comes through the Premier League, through a solidarity mechanism. This potentially changes that.

“It’s too early to say whether this is a fundamental negative for English football, and European football. But should those six clubs leave the Premier League, the value of English football suddenly falls because those six clubs do drive so much of that value.”