A big bank has recently come under scrutiny, but for a much different reason than you would guess. JP Morgan has come under pressure as of late for its involvement in financing the establishment of a European “Super League”. The bank provided a $4+ billion loan to finance the Super League, which has seen tremendous backlash from European football fans around the world. Perhaps JP Morgan underestimated the intense criticism surrounding the creation of the Super League and the strong emotional connection that European football fans have with their distinct clubs. Or maybe the bank decided to put emotions aside to close the deal. Either way, one thing we do know is that the formation of the league is highly unlikely at this point as the teams involved continue to support their fan’s disapproval of the move. European football has some of the most historic professional sports leagues in existence accompanied by enormously passionate fans. I have never personally attended a game abroad, but they are notoriously some of the most exciting live sporting events. Undoubtedly a bucket list item for me.
A uniqueness about each of Europe’s domestic league’s is the concept of promotion and relegation. Unlike sports leagues in the U.S., in which teams are permanently solidified in the league, Europe’s football teams (or as we say soccer) must fight to remain in their country’s respective leagues each season. Typically, leagues have several divisions. Each season, the bottom three finishers in the top division are demoted one league level and the top three finishers in the lower divisions are promoted one league level. This concept maintains a competitiveness throughout the season, as even the teams at the bottom of the standings have something to fight for: to remain in the division. In the U.S., we have seen instances of teams “tanking” to place last in the league and solidify a high draft selection for the following year. Whether in football or basketball, this strategy has seen criticism over the years as it gets away from one of the main attractive attributes of sports, competitiveness.
The idea of a Super League was formed to include twelve of Europe’s largest and
wealthiest football clubs, including Real Madrid and Manchester United. The motives behind the idea of the league were clear: to set up an exclusive league with only the best teams in Europe to drive more revenue, particularly through broadcasting rights. Viewed by most as a money grab, fans across the world quickly expressed their distaste. And rightfully so. Currently, there is a similar league in place called the Champions League. However, there are many
differences between the Champions League and the new proposed Super League. To start, each team must qualify for the Champions League by reaching a certain place in their country’s domestic leagues. The Super League, however, would have guaranteed placement for the twelve teams involved, diminishing motivation for club teams to reach the top of the table in their domestic leagues. Essentially, the wealthy Super League would guarantee clubs a spot in a “prestigious league” without any efforts of qualification. This would be a similar league composition to professional sports leagues in the U.S. and vastly different from the Europe’s, which are so dearly cherished. Furthermore, the league would completely disregard all other football clubs not included and do so on a permanent basis.
Imagine if the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, and a few other large market, profitable teams broke away from the Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland As to start their own league… This seemed to be doomed from the start, but we are displeased by bankers following the money and not honoring the roots of European football…