Every so often the G14(18) group of Europe's most influential and powerful clubs utilise the threat of a breakaway European Super League as a negotiating tactic in their power play with footballing and/or governmental authorities. Aside from destabilising any negotiation process, such posturing lets the irritating regulatory and administrative bodies understand who possesses the real control of the European game at it's highest strata.
The first point to be made here is that the Super League already exists albeit in a nascent form under the tutelage of an inappropriate body (in the eyes of the G14(18)). It is called the Champions League. This misnomer of a competition has historically paid lip service to being a competition for the champions of Europe's various leagues while filtering out lesser nations to allow the latter stages to be a knockout version of such a Super League. Only three of the quarter finalists are national champions (Roma effectively finishing fifth in last season's Serie A before Italy's annual pre-season uproarious lottery) and ten of the last 16 teams came from the Big 3 countries. Several of the participants have directly and strategically targeted the Champions League competition throughout the season in preference to their domestic leagues and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we are involved in an ongoing process that will inevitably result in the formation of a Europe-wide moneybags tournament. For further evidence, look at the last two seasons in the English Premiership. It is an imperative that the Big 4 qualify for Europe's premier competition. The manner in which Everton were discarded in favour of their neighbours via a change in the competition rules two years ago and Tottenham were stomach-bugged out of fourth place last season is an indication of the levels that the power operators will target to achieve their rightful place. Additionally, the Big 4 have issues with the more corrupt bookmaking practices currently in vogue in the Premiership (see numerous posts on the PGMOB undermining Arsenal this season, for example).
The election of Michel Platini, although welcomed by most football aficionados, may well accelerate this process. His declared aim is to reduce the number of Champions League qualifiers for the Big 3 countries which has no chance of being a feasible strategy. Such an action is the equivalent of self-administering a poison pill as it will merely hasten the formation of his nemesis - the Super League. Platini has an unenviable choice - compromise or be yesterday's administrator...
Oh and, by the way, you'll be sidelined eventually anyway. The power brokers who are taking control of the British game would prefer a blank piece of paper to establish their growth strategies. Standard private equity-heads desire either complete and utter control of a current structure or to develop an entirely new edifice suitably designed for their own creative investment plans. This week's Milan versus FC Bayern game is a case in point. As Dietrological clients will be aware, we have been forced to not only hedge our initial positionings on the Italians but we are now actively supportive of the Bavarians in the marketplace. Some of our reasoning is proprietary isolationist stuff but the Germans are livid about the choice of Baskakov to officiate and a future Super League would have an enclosed roster of referees that were acceptable to all G14(18) teams and not just the ones with the deepest pockets. Interestingly, we still suggest FC Bayern +0.5 despite Baskakov and the exclusion of Oliver Kahn.
So, the owners want it and the powerful clubs want it. Governments and the EU? Britain's Department of Culture Media and Sport is largely in the possession of the manipulators of the English game despite the occasional outbreak of righteous indignation from Richard Caborn. This is largely tokenistic as he knows which side his bread is vegan margerined while Tessa Jowell does as she is told (incidentally, not a lot of press coverage in England for her estranged husband's ongoing legal sensitivities in Milan with fellow lodge member Silvio Berlusconi). The G14(18) have lobbied widely and effectively within the EU in order to drive a wedge into UEFA. The neo-con MEPs supportive of the creation of a Super League believe in regime change as a matter of course and are willing to play their part in the final takeover of the European game by the fat wallets.
What will be the impact on the Premiership once the Big 4 and a couple of referees have disappeared into the trading strategies of the investment banks? Prior to corruption, the playing field will be significantly more level. As the recent cup exploits of Arsenal reserves has shown, the junior teams of the Big 4 would get in the UEFA Cup spots if allowed into the Premiership. A more level playing field at a power strata equivalent to the Championship in the current English set up would be preferable for the second tier clubs supported by first world money (Portsmouth, Spurs, Villa etc) in a shiny Super League world.
And the bookmakers will be ecstatic. Our prediction of the first £1billion football market in the next 2-5 years would be achieved sooner rather than later. The betting turnover generated by the new Super League would be globally colossal. The bookmakers will have to adapt if they do not wish to be supplanted by the global investment houses but the profits on offer will allow a suitable accommodation of each other's interests (at least initially). Domestic leagues would still be an earner for the market makers as Man City and West Ham fans would not immediately desert their team for a spot of glory hunting.
And, there are going to be some very very rich referees...
The fans, what about the fans? Do as you are told. Watch what they want you to watch and bet on what they wish for you to be betting on. Understand? We have a business to run here. Be good consumerists now...
The protagonists are claiming to be looking at a timescale of five to ten years before their baby becomes a reality. We would veer towards the lower end of this range and, quite probably, sooner. Private equity people are not renowned for their patience, risk aversion or lack of willingness to undertake psychopathic creative deconstruction in pursuit of yet more dollars. If Gillet and Hicks could sort it for next season, they would. For the moment though, the G14(18) assure us that the Super League is merely a potential blueprint in case "UEFA and/or FIFA runs wild". Leaving aside the point that the like of the G14(18) objecting to football's current administrators running wild is a case of projection of the first degree, plotters may always find a viable transgression for them to advance their strategy. An example - was Hezbullah's capture of an Israeli soldier really the trigger for Israel's invasion of Lebanon last year? Of course not... A strategy was in place years ahead starting with the taking out of Rafik Hariri and the expulsion of the Syrians after some "revolution" with a colour chosen from a Dulux paint chart.
The Super League start date is already agreed.
* This post was first published for Dietroloical Platinum and Gold clients on April 2nd.