Leicester City and the Purge of the Elite

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Leicester City supporters celebrate their team's win in the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

On the eve of Leicester City’s conquest of the Premier League, the whispers of a break-away European Super Liga continue. It’s not a coincidence that these rumours start popping up again as the surprise success of Raineiri’s team seems unstoppable. It started with proposals of wild card system. The Champions League should allow big names like Manchester United to enter the competition every year even if their place at the Premier League table doesn’t entitle them to it. Apart from petty jealousy and frustration at the unexpected superiority of relatively small team like Leicester, it’s also a cry for help: “We can’t sustain our financial administration if we don’t reach Champions League every year.”

Slowly but surely a small group of rich elite are gravitating away from the masses. A selection of clubs, often backed by foreign investors, are following a business model revolving around high profile matches, merchandise, social media and television coverage. They serve a market that’s transcending the borders of their national competition and the fans in the stadium. Matches against smaller teams are simply not lucrative enough; a nuisance that doesn’t fit their agenda.

The opposition against a European Super League is large. The UEFA, EPFL and many fans took a stand against these initiatives. But in the end, they won’t be able to stop it. Manchester United, Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, at some point they will be bigger than the UEFA and their revenue out of television contracts will be better than ticket sales. A small group of elite teams will form their own league, their own association and their own corporation. Not unlike professional sports in the United States, they will operate as a fully independent entity. It will have its own rules, its own transfer system and its own TV contracts and ticketing. There will be no more promotion and relegation but the opportunity to buy in or opt out.

It’s an ugly, degenerated prospect and a future stripped of any kind of romanticism and sentimental value. It will be a circus of rigid commercialism and will be bemoaned by many. But it will probably succeed. There will be young people and mass market consumers that will eat it up like they eat up the Champions League. They will be jerseys and download apps and cheer for Ronaldo and Messi and Zlatan no matter for what team they play that year.

And the upside? The ugliness will be removed from our national leagues. The chaff will be separated from the wheat. The national leagues will plummet in terms of sponsor money: good players will drift away to the new Super Liga and attendance will drop. But what remains is a smaller group of proper fans that just enjoy the sport for what it is. With less commercialism and marketing, less pretentious snobbery and trying to live larger then you can. Go! Dirty rich teams! Get out of our competitions and start your gross Super League! Good riddance!

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