Matthew Lynn Matthew Lynn

In defence of football’s Super League

Old Trafford (photo: Getty)

Short of dropping Harry Kane from the England team, and replacing him with Andy Carroll on the grounds that what we really need is a big man up front, it is hard to imagine a footballing decision that could be less popular. Twelve of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, have announced plans for a break-away ‘European Super League’. Alongside the domestic competitions, the 12 elite clubs would play each other regularly season after season.

Football decided 30 years ago to become a big money game, and has been rewarded with massive global audiences

The reaction, to put it mildly, has not been 100 per cent positive, and not just from the now empty terraces. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the plan on Twitter. Sir Keir Starmer joined in quicker than you can say offside, while the oddly-titled ‘European Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life’ Margaritis Schinas decided it was an affront to that, er, ‘way of life’, tweeting ‘We must defend a values-driven European model of sport based on diversity and inclusion. There is no scope for reserving it for the few rich and powerful clubs.’ Heck, at this rate, there may finally be something that Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen can agree on, and the whole plan may have been outlawed by emergency legislation by tomorrow morning.

But hold on. The major clubs in question are private companies, owned by a diverse group of international investors. Surely it is up to them to decide how to arrange their own affairs, not a group of politicians? The Super League might be a great idea commercially or it might be a terrible one. We will see. Perhaps Liverpool against Real Madrid and Arsenal against Barcleona will be a huge hit on Amazon Prime or whichever streaming service signs up the broadcasting rights.

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