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The Europe Of Different Speeds | How The Super League Could Be Great

You watch when Europe kicks off. Look, Club Bruges plays better than Leipzig. Defending champion Chelsea lost. Fans are now Googling Transnistria after a club called Sheriff Tiraspol beat Real Madrid this week. The audience experienced dramatic twists and turns in Milan and Manchester, and previously also in Liverpool. Wonderful goals came from old friends like Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. Friends of the beautiful game took a liking to PSG versus City, the duel between the obscenely rich luxury brands. Was Villarreal disadvantaged, wasn't Ronaldo sidelined for the winning goal?

Since its inception in the 19th century, football has become more open and international . This is apparently also the view of a court in Madrid, which this week prohibited Uefa in an order from punishing Real Madrid , Juventus Turin and the other renegades. Their plan to found a Super League failed in April after violent protests from fans, sponsors and large parts of the industry. But Uefa is not allowed to impose fines on the clubs. 

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That doesn't mean the Super League will be a reality next year. The outrage was too great for that . But at some point a kind of European league is likely to become a reality. If you approach it correctly, democratically in other words, it can even become good. The topic should be a constant part of football for the next decade. Because the new Champions League, as it will be played from 2024, is very controversial and may not last long.

You don't have to do it like Andrea Agnelli and Florentino Pérez, the bosses of Juventus and Real, who were in charge of the spin-off attempt. They made two gross mistakes that were right to cause anger. For their new league, they did not envisage relegation and promotion. This principle corresponds to the culture and history of European football. 

And the wrong people got together in the Super League. An elite of twelve clubs from three countries wanted to seal themselves off, at best let in a few selected guests. Nothing was heard or read about how the other 50 countries of the Uefa were to be integrated. 

Less exclusivity, more participation - these would be the approaches that could give a European league more acceptance. Which they could even turn into a utopia. Those responsible, i.e. the Uefa and the national associations, would have to think about and discuss how to win majorities for a reform. 

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There are fundamental and important questions of the mode to be decided. Should or must the future European league participants leave their national leagues? Then there would be a superordinate league of around 20 clubs, maybe a second and third.

Devaluation of the Bundesliga

The Bundesliga would then have to do without Bayern Munich. It would then become a kind of regional league. It fared like the once popular top leagues from 1963, when the single-track Bundesliga was introduced. This variant would have the advantage that someone other than FC Bayern would once again become German champions. Such a Bundesliga could also be a more grass-roots, grass-smelling addition to the Europa League. 

Or FC Bayern will stay in the Bundesliga and also take part in the continental league. This could consist of 14 to 16 clubs, for example, all of which play against each other, but without a second leg. It also has a sporting base from other continental leagues. This would mean that the clubs play 15 to 17 international games a year instead of the previous 13, a moderate increase that would enable the clubs to do justice to both competitions.

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This model would have the advantage that the Bundesliga is not or almost not devalued economically. It would certainly be in the interest of the other German associations and their employees. If the Bundesliga had to get by without Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, some clubs could not afford a second squad planner.

In order for a European league not to drive masses onto the streets again, the initiators would have to give up their elitist course. Clubs should be able to be promoted and, above all, relegated. If you weren't good enough, you have to go one league lower, there is no wildcard either. Such a shift leads to competition, participation and innovation. The less planning security, the greater the risk of decline, the more variety. 

It would be even better if the beneficiaries of the economic developments in professional football are ready to share. Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Real Madrid should, in association with Uefa, perhaps also the EU, think about how they can open up fair opportunities for other nations. A European league should not consist of just five countries in the long run.

This would also require political measures. In order to set something against the Europe of the different speeds, one could think about proportional rules during the ascent in order to strengthen weaker regions. In addition, small leagues could merge into multinational leagues in order to become stronger. Advanced considerations of a BeNeLeague are circulating in Belgium and the Netherlands. Scandinavia could found a Northern League. Or the former Yugoslav states go back together in club football, analogous to the Adriatic league in basketball.

Last but not least, nothing works in end-commercialized football without money. Considerations of a European league therefore cannot avoid debates about financial rules. Uefa is currently considering upper wages, solidarity payments or a luxury tax. Uefa's financial fair play, which is about to end anyway, may have been well meant to prevent economic excesses. But it doesn't work. In the end, it actually protected the established ones like Chelsea, Real or Juventus from new competition. Perhaps that was even the secret purpose of this rule.

The natural law of football

Whether you like it or not - the chance of a new diversity in European professional football may not lie in limiting the flow of money, but on the contrary. In any case, Europe has other great cities than Madrid , London, Paris and Munich, even some with a football tradition like Kiev, Budapest, Lisbon or Amsterdam . There is no plausible reason why investors should not try their luck there.

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In Europe, distances are getting shorter, a little more with every generation. Last but not least, this applies to football. The Spanish and Italian leagues are just a click away on DAZN. The international football section in table football is five times as large today as it was 30 years ago. In the attractive Champions League , many fans can hardly wait for the knockout rounds in spring. And at the same time, the title race in the Bundesliga will be canceled for the foreseeable future. 

It's an old phenomenon: a few clubs have outgrown their competition. Now they want better competition, they also want to earn more. So they look for other, better, about equally strong opponents from more distant regions and countries. There is always resistance to this natural law of football. It cannot be overridden. But it can be shaped politically.

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