Einstien’s fifth law: Football needs a crisis


A friend of mine who has lived on-and-off in the US watches their sports, but he is clear: the biggest US sport, American football, has vastly less significance to that society that football does across most of Europe.  In every city, town and village across Europe people gather in often miserable stadiums to bond with their neighbours and the generations gone before them.  Football defines us, in many cases more than our nationality does.

But look at US sports, even basketball and baseball, who are forever trying to compete with football, the money flowing through these industries is disproportionately high compared to the European game.  And it is not just the flow of money – it is the profits.

Without fear of relegation, or the need to perform in order to reach the profitable stages of competition, clubs can retain significant profits.  Sure, the players earn lots, but it is the shareholders who make the real money from sport in the US.

If you look at European football purely as an industry, you will come up with a plan that looks pretty much like the breakaway European Super League (ESL).  The ESL has the potential to propel the value of shares (when traded in quantity) in each of the proposed 15 permanent members (only 12 have so far committed, leaving space for Bayern Munich, PSG and Borussia Dortmund) by a factor of 10.  Your billion euro club is now worth 10 billion euros.  Do not for a second think you can appeal to their sense of tradition or decency.  I have never met anyone who has chosen not to become 10 times richer and none of these club owners are going to buck this trend.

Uefa has slowly eradicated meritocracy in the European game by conceding territory to these clubs for much of the last 20 years.  It was never going to satisfy them, all it did was rob European giants from small countries of a chance of competing at the highest level.

And while this proposal is for a midweek competition, be clear, Manchester United do not ever want to play Burnley on their weekends.  A game like this provides no commercial value, in fact, playing small English clubs denies them the opportunity cost of playing Real Madrid at the weekend.  A proposal to leave domestic football is in the post.

Sepp Blatter used to throw around that hoary old phrase “the football family”, which seemed empty until this week.  The response across the game has been universal, impressive and surprising.  The EPL, FA, Uefa, Fifa, national associations, the European Club Association and clubs across Europe were forthright in a combative response.  The football family found its voice.

The current landscape does not suit fans like me (or you, if you are reading this).  We lost an era of great clubs from small nations because our TV markets are not as valuable as other TV markets.  Titans became filler depending on which side of a border their home ground sat, it was that arbitrary.

Our ambitions are limited to hanging onto coattails of clubs who 20 years ago had scarcely won a domestic title; never mind won admiration and respect across Europe.  I want to see this changed and a return to meritocracy, where well-run clubs across the Continent can aspire to great things again.

The sovereign wealth and hedge funds that are behind this move will have run through every scenario.  This is a time to be a sports contract lawyer.  There will be money on the table to see them through some turbulence.  The rest of the football industry have legal and commercial options.  Fifa, Uefa, the ECA, the FAs and leagues of the ‘big five’ leagues must act in unison; a contractual obligation to block and ban would be a handy first step.  The game needs leadership of the Jules Rimet calibre.

It was Albert Einstien who said “every crisis in an opportunity”.  Most of our clubs need an opportunity to break free of the hegemony of these predatory clubs, so maybe Einstein’s fifth law would be ‘Football needs a crisis’.

Bring this decade’s long slide into the pockets of the hedge funds to an end.  I want a European Super League, but one based on merit, open to great and innovative clubs, that would inspire kids across the Continent to dream about winning the European Cup for their team the way I did once.

As an addendum, back in November 2004 CQN published a Plan for a European League.  The online version perished on our move away from Blogger, and I’ve not read it in 15 years, but here it is.


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  1. From previous Thread…


    BIG JIMMY on 20TH APRIL 2021 12:21 PM


    Heres a Novel idea….





    ALL those Players who are BIG Earners at their clubs who are a part of ” the Big Six” who wish to join this Super League, those Players who are AGAINST the whole idea and unhappy with their Clubs for wishing to be part of the Breakaway Six, should simply ” DOWN TOOLS and or Request to be placed on the Transfer List….and ONLY to be sold to a Club that is NOT one of the Big Six in England.







    This would mean that THOSE Players would probably have to take a Wage Cut if Transferred to another Club outwith the Big Six. The Big Six Clubs MAY decide to punish any player who simply ” Downs Tools in protest by reducing and/or suspending their wages et ?







    Also…IF the Majority of those BIG Earning Players who are employed by ANY of ” The Big Six” would therefore be DENYING their Clubs their ” Services”, for any Super League Matches…so the clubs would NOT be able to showcase/play their so called BETTER Players, and that in turn would automatically undermine the concept of a ” Super League”….IF English clubs are FORCED to play so called ” LESSER” Players every week ?







    I know the above scenario is highly unlikely, but IF those BIG Earners at English Clubs REALLY are unhappy with the actions of their own Clubs…then they SHOULD be seen to be making a strong stand against their Clubs…and NOT just Mouthing off about being unhappy about their clubs part in all of it ?





    Will the above happen….probably NOT ?






  2. Again from Previous Thread..


    BIG JIMMY on 20TH APRIL 2021 12:29 PM


    I received a Citation for jury service next Month.





    Due to my poor Health etc, I can NOT possibly attend any Court duty, and I am trying to get a Letter from my GP in the next few days to have me Excused. Ive been Excused in the past due to my Health.





    however, I would LOVE to be part of a Jury, and in the Dock is some Hun Bassa who has assaulted a Celtic supporter etc…I would find him/her Guilty…NO Problem and then send The CHUMP down for at least 20 years if I could !







    Maybe some nice Tim on here can take my place in the Jury and IF it was a case of a Hun acting like an animal etc…then YOU could find him/her Guilty etc in MY Absence ?







    IF only ?,,,,,,,






  3. If these SL back down and re-enter the fold it will be because UEFA moves even further away from a meritocracy to appease them.


    Right now I hope the SL happens. The fallout will see a shakeup that we can benefit from.

  4. I posted this morning that Sherwood and Howe were sharing a TV studio last night. Sherwood was “demanding” Spurs appoint Howe to rebuild the club. Howe just sat and smiled.

  5. BGFC, I stopped using ad blockers and instead have java script switched off for CQN only, using site settings in my browser. Not flawless but works very well.

  6. Big Jimmy



    Not sure that’s how juries are supposed to work!!





    i get confused about juries I watched 12 angry men but my mate said it was the four men of the jury who give the verdict………

  7. Deniabhoy, thanks for your help last week re cycle carriers. I’m interested, but any thoughts on what’s the best rear carrier? I don’t have a tow bar. Finding it difficult to get one that will definitely fit my 2009 mini Cooper and will also need a fake crossbar for Glasgowghirl’s bike, but that’s fine.



  8. FRANKTERRY on 20TH APRIL 2021 11:41 AM


    ERNIE LYNCH on 20TH APRIL 2021 11:03 AM









    ‘I’m going to hazard a guess Ernie, you’re either a climate denier or someone who doesn’t see it as a particularly important issue? Am I right?’







    No. You’re completely wrong.



    The fact remains. Monbiot is a vegan. He is not, and cannot be, independent on the subject of consuming animals. So you were wrong to suggest that he is.

  9. What are the first 4 laws? Genuine question. Google isn’t coming up with anything.



    Pretty sure the relativity thing is about how the first 4 laws apply differently depending on whether you play in Blue or not.

  10. glendalystonsils on

    Paul , I’m sure our board would agree that ‘football needs a crisis’ as they have created one of our very own for us .


    Although I’m still trying to get my head around the notion that it’s a good idea .

  11. Paul 67,



    Albert Einstein may have said ” Every crisis is an opportunity ”


    Very true.



    But the Nelson Mandela quote ” It always seems impossible until is done ” is equally true.



    Remember this wise quote when we are being ” realistic ” at the back of the bus..



    In summary: Celtic have opportunity and aspiration is indeed feasible.


    We must grasp it.




  12. I think the real reason the teams not invited to this league are against it is


    The teams involved will have a permanent financial advantage with guaranteed income enabling them always to have the best players etc.

  13. I don`t know what I think of the propsed SL but I do feel an awful lot of hypocrisy is being spouted by those in the game who are against it.

  14. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    Good article.



    As you say, just a continuation of a long-term trend. These clubs need to be dealt with once and for all. If not, the wider game is dead. One time opportunity.



    I will say the hypocrisy surrounding the reaction is painful to observe. Many clubs and broadcasters who contributed to current conditions now howling because the monster they helped create is now eating them.



    Also, given their personal vale bases, don’t think for a minute Desmond, Bankier and Lawwell wouldn’t jump at this given half a chance. Desmond still banging on about the EPL, the most soulless corporate borefest in existence.



    My prediction – greed will prevail.



    PS presume you don’t include Celtic in the well-run club category. Maybe you meant Ross County, a team with a tiny fraction of our resources who beat us home and away this season… and don’t appoint C-list managers and coaches because they won’t question the bean counting CEO’s footballing decisions.

  15. have we woken up yet or are we still fast asleep at the wheel and why should SB be selected when his loyalties are now with the dandy dons , get players playing who want and will be part of the squad next season.

  16. Those greedy big boys want it all for themselves.


    Now where have we seen that before?


    OF fits the bill perfectly.

  17. I am ashamed of football executives at our club who have acted dishonestly over the past 10 years. Executives at Hampden and over the water are beneath contempt. Football is about talented players and fans. The game has been hijacked by charlatans and imposters in this country and beyond. Make no mistake, the Lawwell’s, Desmonds and Doncasters would not hesitate to jump on the super league band wagon should the opportunity arise. What this season has shown above all others is that the most important people at Celtic park are those who sit in the terraces. The executives who hold those very people in contempt have been exposed without them. The fans won’t get 10 in a row make no mistake this is the ending that some in our boardroom deserve.



    It’s ironic that the most competent man to be employed at Celtic park over the last decade led his current club to a cup final on Sunday. When Brendan Rodgers walked he knew the ship would sink and history would reflect better on him. Well, he said so himself didn’t he. Good luck Dominic McKay, you are going to need it.

  18. RC


    A bit unfair on Scott who has been a fantastic Captain and servant of the club. If selected he would give his all – remember his last game for hibs against us.


    Having said that I’d be playing Soro and wouldn’t be playing any loanees – not because I doubt their commitment but we need to look what we’ve got.

  19. I take it the bastians of football integrity the SFA and SPFL have expressed their total opposition to this new league.



    Neck and blowtorch comes to mind.

  20. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Well written article, Paul.


    I’m still not convinced it isn’t just a power-play by the biggest clubs to get even more control (and money!) over the Champions League. Although that wouldn’t fix the immediate problem of the debt levels (particularly the big two Spanish clubs) so maybe it will happen.


    Can’t see it working long-term. People will get bored watching the same games all the time. And clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham will become like the Burnleys and Palaces of the EPL.


    Interesting times ahead…..

  21. Gene


    With you on Broonie. he has been a great player ( I won`t use `servant` ) for us and I am certain he will give his all. Just a pity we cannot be ther to give him the fairwell he deserves.

  22. I hope the ESL happens, football needs a resetting and hopefully this move will eventually lead to the current situation burning everything to the ground so we can start again.



    Everton were one of the 5 clubs that left the old league setup to form the EPL and which has lead to where we are now, not a good place. If they hadn’t been such a basket case they’d have been one of the 6 invited to setup the ESL, and they would’ve accepted

  23. Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s debts are frightening, even with control of their current TV revenues. That’s why Real’s President is so outspoken in support of the SL.

  24. Pauls’s editorial is concise and informative and underlines that the model for this ESL is being copied straight from US over hyped sport.



    I do not think the conspirators will back down – for them the timing is right with the pandemic still in full swing in Europe. They would not have ‘put their head above the parapet’ and risked the expected onslaught, had their minds not been fully made up.



    However will the leagues/organisations who are opposed be as determined? They need to seize back the initiative and act quickly and decisively.



    They are waiting for three clubs to complete the fifteen – I slightly differ from Paul – my three would be Bayern, PSG and a Russian club – surely the vast potential Russian TV market cannot be ignored.

  25. I’m sure the Spanish league changed their TV deal to be fairer to all teams.



    The new ESL will already have a media partner signed up to allow clubs to sell their own TV matches direct to fans, probably via Amazon or Apple.



    They’ll make fortunes and would lead to the end of Sky Sports, which is a positive

  26. David Baddiel made a good point in the Guardian – if there is a runaway leader and no relegation, then the last few games of matches will be dead rubbers.



    i imagine, they will have playoffs to decide the champions.

  27. Thanks Paul67, a very interesting article. This season of all seasons shows how we as football fans can lose sight of the bigger picture in the pursuit of short term goals. No one involved in this will be thinking like that.



    CQN is great isn’t it. I’ve spent the last couple of days reading a lot about the ESL and I’ve yet to read anything that sums it all up so well and so succinctly.



    We’re lucky to have CQN, it really is a valuable source of well-informed opinion that’s relevant to us and lucky to have Paul67 on our side.

  28. Another great insightful article ignoring the herd of elephants in the room.


    I could not care less about ESL at the moment – our club appears a rudderless shambles with the fabled rebuild getting tougher and less likely with every player sales or move that takes place (who is making those decisions btw?) and everyday that passes without an experienced and professional management team in place.



    Frankly it is a joke that with whats going on in our front room this site continues to flirt round the edges of the issue and take any and all opportunities to deflect and write on other topics.



    We are not hearing or seeing one chink of light or hope as the club adds pathetic PR and communications the the list of own goals this season in particular. They either want to keep us in the dark and without hope or they actually have nothing to tell us – not sure what one is worse.

  29. squire danaher on

    HOT SMOKED on 20TH APRIL 2021 12:52 PM


    I don`t know what I think of the propsed SL but I do feel an awful lot of hypocrisy is being spouted by those in the game who are against it.









    I’ll be knocked down dead with a ragman’s trumpet if I’m going to take lectures in corporate finance and morality from the organisation who shells out £120m per year to the likes of Burnley and Fulham in order to sell satellite dishes.

  30. Jeaopardy is anathema to big business. It’s naive to think the owners will worry about dead rubbers or that they’ll listen to appeals to fairness or the spirit of the game.

  31. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    GLASGOWBHOY on 20TH APRIL 2021 12:42 PM


    BGFC, I stopped using ad blockers and instead have java script switched off for CQN only, using site settings in my browser. Not flawless but works very well.





    Cheers for the reply GlasgowBhoy – much appreciated.



    I’ve got that setup on my iPhone, but I need to keep adblocker on my laptop or all of the other sites get overrun. It is a real pain in the bahookie :-(



    Anyway – thanks again.






  32. SCULLYBHOY @ 12:23 (Previous thread)


    So the Quadruple treble meant nothing


    Winning the Scottish cup this (just in case we did) would have meant nothing


    The ‘Invincibles’ meant nothing


    Notice – no abuse – just observations





    Of course all our achievements meant something and I Celtibrated them as much as anyone. The late Rogic goal against Aberdeen at Hampden will live with me always and is right up there with all our triumphs from Dunfermline in 1965 to date.



    However anyone saying that the last ten years was not domestically the easiest in our history in terms of winning trophies, is not being honest.

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