An Ode to the Super League Era

Come One, Come All, the new Super League era is here! Welcome to the Brave New World of Football! The ultra-rich club owners are here to not just save football, but more importantly, to save you: the fan! They have done this all FOR YOU. The least you can do is welcome this with open arms and show a bit of gratitude. After all, the intentions are entirely pure and are only promoting YOUR interests, whether you know your own interests or not.

Okay, enough of the nonsense that we are being fed from Florentino Perez. The horseman of the football apocalypse – Stan Kroenke, Fenway Sports Group, the Glazer Family, Andrea Agnelli, and Florentino Perez — are downright liars, spinning whichever webs and falsehoods they can to effectively brainwash us all into buying into their Brave New World that is here to save football and the fan. But, if you have read the novel I have alluded to, you are aware the Brave New World stripped all humanity from the populace. Everyone was manufactured from insemination to their state-chosen career, and all the way to the end of their miserable lives that are built off soma: the quick fix drug to alleviate any real feelings of unhappiness or emotional perturbation.

The European Super League: How have we come this far?

This is what the horsemen of the footballing apocalypse are trying to do: eliminate all hardships for the massively rich clubs by introducing their own soma in the form of the Super League. But life is far from being about quick fixes. Life is about the ups-and-downs. Life is about experiencing the perturbations of mood, mind, and stature. It is inevitable. Football is no different. Make no mistake of what the horsemen are trying to do. They are trying and seemingly succeeding in their plan to remove themselves entirely from the masses of the footballing world by usurping mostly all the revenue into their own little soma-filled world that will be divorced and removed from the inextricable web of interactions and networks that football has long been about. Generations before the writing of this diatribe are aware of what I am alluding to here.

Within the physical, natural world of life there are more interactions and critical networks that exist to sustain it all. I am not referring to just people: the flora and fauna all depend upon each other. Life and death of each species is dependent upon another. Without one species, there may not be another, and this cycle can go on forever the more one is willing to peel behind the layers of the interactive ecological networks that bind the natural world together. However, within these networks, there are keystone or integral species. Their presence and abundance determine the overall health and stability of all corresponding species within the ecosystem. An example of this, in general terms, would be to remove an apex predator. This alters the entire network in a top-down manner: the removal of the apex predator causes the subsequently lower-level species to become unstable, some will become overly abundant and eventually, the resources will be consumed at a rate that is unsustainable for the entirety of the ecosystem.

Now, take this exercise into ecology into the context of football. The apex predators are the clubs joining the super league and abandoning the footballing network and structure that have long sustained all clubs involved. The absence of these apex predator, super clubs will destabilize the entire network of clubs that are left behind in the altered footballing web of interactions. Like it or hate it, this is the harsh reality. The resources will eventually become consumed by the clubs trying to survive without the presence of the super clubs, as all the resources in the domestic leagues will inevitably dry up on a long enough timeline.

This is because broadcasters will not want to pay large contracts with La Liga, Serie A, and the Premier League if the top clubs, and therefore top players, have all abandoned the network. Historic clubs could become fodder for liquidation on a long enough timeline. The TV deals will become lesser and lesser each subsequent year, the surviving domestic clubs will have to get by with less each time, and eventually they will fall. The only outlet for them to survive is to sell their prime assets to the Super League clubs. But, even if this allows their survival with the dearth of financial resources that will be caused from the fallout of the Super League, the dream is dead. We are seeing football turned into a monopoly in real time. No longer will we see lowly Bournemouth’s climb the divisions to reach the Premier League and beat the super clubs with lesser talent. No longer will we see Nottingham Forest win the Champions League against all of the odds. No longer will the historic local rivalries function the same way, or in many cases, even exist after the formation of this soul-sucking Super League. You cannot remove the apex clubs from the domestic leagues and expect the network of all other football clubs to not only survive, but thrive, in this dynamic, as being suggested by Florentino Perez.

Football without fans is nothing, the Super League has wiped out the sport

Despite all of my rage, and the collective dissidence from the footballing world, what are we to do? The dichotomy between the footballing haves and footballing have nots has long been brewing. The game has become more and more financially exorbitant over the short and long-term. The game has long been moving to heavily favoring some leagues over others, some super clubs over the remaining clubs, and financially excluding the have nots on a long enough timeline. The monopoly process of the Super League has finally emerged it’s ugly head from beneath the murky surface from which it has long been hiding. Born out of all the worst traits – greed, corruption, lies, and monopolization – the beast is finally here for all to see. The beautiful game has finally sold out. “Built by the Poor, Stolen by the Rich.”

The corporate sellout of football is right in front of our eyes. The Super League will prioritize profits and shareholder greed over fans, history, emotion, and decency. These are the clear directives being communicated from the actions of all clubs involved in the Super League. This is similar to how society itself has evolved: favor those with power and resources, disregard the other competing interests, and spin lies and narratives to fool the masses that their interests are truly being promoted in light of the power being further granted to those who have already long seized it. Examples of this are numerous. A pristine habitat with endangered species? Let’s put a shopping mall there. Local cafes owned by generations within a family? Let’s put a Starbucks there for “competition.” Local dining restaurants that are a staple of the town? Let’s add a McDonald’s. Football is now being victimized by this pro-corporate outlook: follow the money, it always wins. Football is now no different. The domestic leagues are the historic, local shops/resturants/cafes/parks, and the Super League is the all-encompassing, generic, and corporate competition that will slowly but ever so surely engulf and destroy the historic establishments.

This corporate sellout model of the beautiful game is best described by the franchise system. As an American, I am all too familiar with the diabolical model of self-preservation and exclusion of other forms of competiton. It breeds mediocrity, generic brands (clubs) that are focused on one thing more than anything: sustaining revenue. The horsemen of the footballing apocalypse started this Super League for one reason alone: they are tired of not being disproportionately rewarded for their mediocrity on the pitch, their bad investments, and they simply feel that on their own self-anointed merit that they are above the scrabble, above the smaller clubs who are outperforming them in some instances with far less resources. So, they have decided to pick up their metaphorical ball and go home when the going gets tough. They are destroying all history of clubs and legacies of fans in this blind pursuit to make football a corporation with their Super League that will become their own financial, self-fulfilling prophecy. And they do not care, because, they have decided that they are above having to fight on the same financial playing field as everyone else, and instead will monopolize the game with their Super League.

Football fans hold a banner protesting against the involvement of Liverpool FC in the new league PAUL ELLIS/AFP
Football fans hold a banner protesting against the involvement of Liverpool FC in the new league PAUL ELLIS/AFP

Americanising football: The Super League Model

Make no mistake, the Super League will become similar to the franchise model we have seen in American sports. The same model that witnesses some franchises be perpetual losers with little to no consequence. There is no relegation for being terrible for a decade. When there is no punishment for a bad work ethic and performance, and when there is no reward for good work ethics and performance, there lies no motivation. Sure, the winners will get a trophy that only their own little Brave New World can compete for, but that is much less of an accomplishment than qualify for Europe, going to Europe, and beating the best of the best from every major European country’s domestic league. It will become stale, all too familiar, and likely much less exciting. The most worrying aspect is that fans will have to watch Arsenal and Spurs become the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars of the Super League: irrelevant, never in competition, but given more than enough financial resources and external factors to make up for it. This won’t be a Super League: it will be what most American sports have become, which aside from the NFL, sees mostly the same old teams compete for and win titles year in and year out. Yawn.

The relegation and promotion system has always held all clubs accountable for their own failures or successes. The minnows can aspire to be promoted for over-achieving. The top clubs will fire managerial legends midseason for fear of being relegated if the toxic relationship is to continue with the squad and club. Will this dynamic exist in the Super League? It certainly does not seem like it will. There will not be a “reward” for finishing in the top 20% of the league as there currently is with all existing domestic leagues. It will be the same old story: one winner and reward or nothing at all. This is the exact reason, as an American, I have long advocated for relegation or promotion systems in American sports. It gets old seeing the Seattle Mariners being bottom-feeders of the league yet retaining some top talent every year (the case of Felix Hernandez is applicable here). Why does a perpetual loser deserve to be rewarded in this manner? Asking the question answers the question. But, if this interests some fans, so be it. I want no part of it.

Just as in life, there are consequences for being a perpetual under-performer. Football use to be the same with the existing domestic leagues and divisional tiers. This, in my opinion, is what draws so many to football and its structure. It parallels so many things within life and society. But, this relatability is becoming an afterthought as the Super League begins its vampiric infection to suck the life and resources away from all domestic leagues. The vampiric infection of the Super League will begin a slow and obvious destruction of the game we have all come to love for various reasons. The sucking away of all we hold dear, the history of clubs dreaming to do the impossible, the legacies of families and fans that now feel cold and alienated.

This is like the beginning of a waking nightmare that won’t ever end. This is like a lucid dream that you try to control but always revert right back to the same negative perturbations. This is like a haunting dread that is slowly invading and creeping it’s way into my life that will begin to follow me wherever I may go. It feels like a part of us, as fans of this incredible game that bridges titanic gaps between us all, is being stolen and violated by the formation of this Super League.

Chelsea Football Club

To sum up what Chelsea Football Club mean to me, it takes almost more than I can put into words. However, as a foreign fan that has never been to any European country, let alone a football match on European soil, this club has grown to represent more than I could have ever imagined. This was born out of all the reasons I have listed above that directly opposed the dull, American sports model. In a broader scale, the game of football itself has grown to represent more than I could have imagined, and it feels like with one fell swoop, that is ending before my eyes.

The club and game itself have literally become a part of my identity. Everywhere I go in public, I almost always have my Chelsea FC hat on. I walk around downtown Indianapolis with kits on and will get random strangers who stop to talk with me and share their thoughts about Chelsea FC. We will walk away both feeling better off for the connection and say “Up the Chels!” I got into coaching in large part because I wanted to give back this intense passion and identity the game and therefore the club have instilled within me. I coached every single match in a Chelsea hat. I many times wore an old Didier Drogba kit to practice and even had some of my U8 players ask me “you wear Chelsea stuff all the time. Did you play for them?” I have to smile and laugh at this as I am mediocre at best to put it lightly. But, that is how much it means to me, and even 8 years old kids who don’t even know about Chelsea FC can see it.

Now, it feels like the Super League has become a giant, sucking void for the beautiful game and all that it use to encompass. As Ross Perot once said in 1992 regarding the NAFTA agreement that the United States of America was proposing at the time and eventually signed into legislation: “…[when] you don’t care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound (of jobs leaving America). But in the meantime, you’ve wrecked the country.” Now apply that same quote to football within the context of the Brave New World of the Super League.

A wealth of identity, history, emotion, romantical bonds to clubs, and lifelong bonds through corroborative friendship, fanhood, and supportership is leaving us through the giant, sucking sound from the void that has been created by this Brave New World of football by the Super League.

Written by Travis Flock (@Crossroads_CFC)

Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)

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