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SPORT

Super League opponents can't see the bigger picture

Football, like all industries, must evolve or risk becoming stale victims of misplaced support for archaic traditions
Author: S'bo Gyre
Wed, Apr 21, 2021

The best traditions evolve and those of football are at their best when they do. Though frightening, the ability to embrace change often results in glittering glory. The modern game is a result of courageous breaks from tradition. So why not a European Super League (ESL)?

Purists would argue the intentions of early '90s traditional separatists to be genuine, as opposed to their contemporaries. However, the similarities are uncanny. Chastise the American owners all you like but the American sporting blueprint is what inspired a breakaway from the old First Division and European Cup, respectively.

Hooliganism and underwhelming payment structures aside, their greatest desire was to create a superior product. You cannot deny that the Super League, in competitive theory, has far superior production value than the often-laborious UEFA Champions League (UCL) games in Azerbaijan against third- or fourth-seeded teams.

Football is sporting entertainment. Cinderella appears once in a blue moon but in the real world the ugly stepsisters, Real and Barca, always win. Money and power are at the centre of this furore that has laid bare football's existential crisis.

So-called custodians of football traditions (FIFA, UEFA) have, for a long time, bent the knee for profit. From the increased number of UCL spaces for the 'big five leagues', to the elitist allocation of World Cup spots to more developed and financially stronger football associations, both organisations have made it clear what matters to them.

From Super Depor's magic runs in the 2000s, to Chelsea's win in 2012, money has been the common denominator. Football has been devoid of true meritocratic integrity for the best part of three decades.

A positive that is overlooked are the potentially enormous gains for the profile of women's football league. A cash injection and concentration of elite female footballers would raise the commercial and competitive appeal for this sector of the game.

The potentially harmful effects on football pyramids are a legitimate concern as the value of domestic competition decreases. The truth is though, teams already juggle weekend league fixtures with European games. The issues are structural and often administrative.

Rio Ferdinand called the ESL a "closed shop". True as that might be, the pre-existing financial power of the founding members make their participation in their respective leagues inevitable anyway.

With potentially another season without fans, there will never be a more opportune time to at least try it out. From curated music playlists, to AI, the future is streamlined to create the perfect product. Football, like all industries, must evolve or risk becoming stale victims of misplaced support for archaic traditions.

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