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. MOISEY17 on 20TH APRIL 2021 1:32 PM



    I think today, of all days, its probably OK to talk about something else

  2. Great point






    DENIABHOY on 20TH APRIL 2021 12:37 PM


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

  3. Another great point






    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

  4. Boris Johnson


    Decrying Millionaire Capitalist for instigating a scheme to get obscenely rich


    Then we wonder why they treat us with such contempt

  5. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    ‘Seb Blatter used to through 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’.



    With due respect, this is just naive.



    The faux outrage of FIFA, Uefa, EPL etc. is because this new super league threatens their power base. There will be less money in it for THEM. It’s rank hypocrisy.



    There will be much huffing, puffing and grandstanding by politicians and sundry other chancers, but it will be water off a ducks back to the folks who control these breakaway clubs. They will either forge ahead with the new league or rejoin the fold taking a bigger slice of the existing pie. Any notion that a more meritocratic structure emerging is fanciful.



    From a Celtic point of view I hope this new league goes ahead. It will help focus the minds of those left behind.

  6. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    We are so unprepared for next season it’s beyond belief. The club is in a state of profound shambles.



    Yet P67 suspends all his critical faculties in what is after all a Celtic blog.



    To think we used to call the Celtic View Pravda.

  7. Third great point is mine!



    It’s an interesting subject to debate on CQN today. However, I hope those within the corridors are Celtic Park are focussed on the here and now.


    We are nowhere near ‘European standard’


    New managerial team should be their priority today

  8. Peter, why bother posting the same stuff day after day, it is Pauls blog, you dont like what he post why not move on elsewhere ?

  9. quadrophenian on

    Am reminded of the old saying, Paul; ‘Football needs a crisis, like a fish needs a bicycle.’



    Now as informed, insightful and urbane as many on here profess or posture to be, what if our club had caught wind of these Super League moves months back, and decided that the only way to weather the storms was to twin back up with the ugly sister for a double-garter flash at the English leagues again.



    I’m speculating – course, and it honks – but it’s kinda plausible.



    And while we’re on the topic of Burnley, can we build our new team around James Tarkowski, Dwight McNeil and – just to rummel them up in troo bloo Scotchland – Nick Pope ?




  10. ERNIE LYNCH on 20TH APRIL 2021 12:47 PM





    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.





    Really? Must’ve been a different Ernie that posted in the past about being suspicious of climate change due to its links to Thatcher.





    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.





    Two things. Look back, I didn’t say he was independent. Secondly, by the same token then no one who eats meat can be independent on the subject. This just leads to ad hom attacks and is intellectually weak.

  11. Paul 67



    Super league has no relevance to Scottish Football where direct entry to the CL awaits our next manager, should we win the league next season.



    John Kennedy’s lack of impact and capacity to change very quickly underlined his temporary status and hog tied him to exited Neil Lennon. Should a new manager be straddled by Kennedy, Strachan, McManus then tradition, and old board dynasty prevails. A new broom sweeps cleanest, get out of town you’ve had your turn.



    Appoint a new young ambitious manager to dodge the next set of wantaways and downtoolers who use Celtic as a stepping stone to the EPL, or maybe now the new Super League, when do we end the cycle of Bangura’s, Balde’s and Bayo’s? Sign a good player and he plays a few good games for Celtic and he wants 70K elsewhere. Bin loanees, and bad buys, until there is a recruitment process that is only capable of signing true potential, or proven players.



    A wage cap, and transfer flotsam embargo is the way to go, we’ must be the only club in the world that has three third choice keepers, non striking strikers, and a full set of loanees, some getting a game on the toss of a coin between them and permanent signings. Play Celtic development players make Lennoxtown full size, and most importantly pick a man the same size as the vacancy.



    Celtic will return to a chorum support where we’ll have shed all the Brendan blow ins, and Neil Lennon begrudgers, that moaned their way to the nine.



    So be it CSC

  12. Let’s talk about anything bar the situation at our club



    We still have no manager.




  13. kikinthenakas on

    Greed and capitalism entered the game a long time ago with oligarchs and sky using the clubs to boost their profiles and launder money…no one can complain..that’s what happens when u open the door and invite the devil in 😎 Hypocrites crying foul doesn’t wash.

  14. PeterLatchfordsBelly on




    I believe the terminology for what you describe is managed decline.



    Saint Stivs



    I come here to hear the other Peter’s latest spin and red herring distractions for the gullible. I go to Sentinel Celts for objective analysis.




  15. lets all do the huddle on

    it doesn’t take Einstein to spell Einstein’s name correctly



    bottom of the class for P67



    at least he spelt it wrong twice so can’t argue about his consistency

  16. A Super League will be like the NFL.


    It will start with 16 teams then expand, probably


    into a league 1 & 2 with promotion and relegation.


    Teams will become like franchises which can be


    moved around to where the money is.


    Sky and th EPL can hardly complain.


    This is the next logical step after paying Mourinio


    250 grand a week to be average or Ozil a fortune


    to give up and stop playing.


    You can’t put the genie back in the bottle and I for


    one hope it happens.

  17. So the liquidators are suing the administrators for £56.8m saying the ground should have been sold off to help pay the debts.



    Can you just imagine the state the Celtic owner would have been in if that had happened?

  18. The Elliot vulture capitalists that part own AC Milan are I presume the same lot currently buying up big chunks of GSK pharma as a likely prelude to yet more capitalist engorgement?



    Ernie – Seapiracy, by you logic, we’re all intrinsically biased according to our chosen means of sustenance. What do you eat? Can you be trusted?!?


    (PS not seeking to reignite any wider roasted v toasted cheese debates!)



    HH jg

  19. FRANKTERRY on 20TH APRIL 2021 2:01 PM



    Frankterry correct, you should get an apology as it was I who categorised George Monbiot as below


    George Monbiot is always a well resourced independent journalistic source



    This just leads to ad hom attacks and is intellectually weak.


    Amen to that Frankterry

  20. Paul67



    I don’t think Einstein ever said such a thing. The earliest reference I can find is from an Einstein biographer who said it was one of the “three rules” that Einstein’s work revolved around. Like the old Chinese saying about crisis and opportunity having the same pictogram in language, it turns out to be false. Why, anyway, should we accept Einstein as a valuable contributor on the morals of football? The most productive outcome of his research into sub-atomic particles has been to develop bombs and power plants that can blow up half of humanity.



    Anyways- it was good to see so many CQNrs not fall for the crocodile tears of Gary Neville, Sky TV and UEFA rushing to condemn an elite group trying to outflank their elite group. The more I listened, the more I started to check whether I truly do button up at the back of my head. Tom Lehrer, the part-time Pigeon poisoner, declared that political satire was dead when Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize for secretly bombing Cambodia. The dead body of satire was dug up and received a few more kickings yesterday when we heard an argument in favour of grassroots democracy and against elite supremacy from none other than Prince William.



    The English Premiership and Championship was an elite breakaway.



    The Scottish Premiership and Championship was an, admittedly less stellar, breakaway.



    The CL and Europa reforms have been made continually with the needs of elite clubs and leagues in mind.



    Aleksander Ceferin is just a miffed Neville (another one) Chamberlain who, having supped with the devil, had his soup spoon stolen and replaced with a blocked straw.



    We are all caught up in this globalisation of football and very few, apart from , perhaps, the fans of FC United of Manchester, who voted for some form of relative purity in 2005 and now languish in the 7th tier of the Pyramid system, can claim any form of inocence.



    We could have opted out of the SPL breakaway and preserved an 18 team Division 1 with limited excitement but some sense of moral superiority, however misguided, while the world passes us by or we can attempt to accomodate with what’s happening without doing away with the valued element of sporting jeopardy, a cost for failure alongside the reward for success.



    In the NFL where all 32 teams are never threatened with relegation, you have 12 teams who have never won a Superbowl and 4 have never even reached the Superbowl final. But they can win interim titles like Divisional and Conference titles- even so, it has been over 10 years since the NY Jets won a Division. Yet, when you look at the fan attendance figures there is very litle differnece between succesful and unsuccessful teams. Indeed the NY Jets, with a win loss record of 4:12, had a total of 628,000 fans attend their home games in 2019, taking number 1 spot while the lowest home attendances were for Los Angeles Chargers(12:4) with 254,000 (they had announced they were moving to Las Vegas, mind) and Cincinnati Bengals(6:10) with 377,000 but the vast majority of the clubs were in the 490,000 to 580,00 brackets. They were remarkably uniform and successful in generating crowds.



    So, the USA owners and their hedge fund backers seem to know a bit about creating successful “bread and circuses” shows.



    Don’t get me wrong I am not excusing the greed or condoning the actions of the “Elite” clubs, I am just pointing out that they beleive their approach wins (for them) and that we are all somewhat dirty in our own pursuit of sporting achievement in the moral compromises we have made and continue to make.



    This is, like most things, a complex argument, much less straightforward than Gary Neville or Rupert Murdoch would have you believe.



    When someone like Boris “greed is good” Johnson comes out against these proposals, I will, at least hesitate, before trying to find a moral way through this particular maze.



    Who knows? There might even be a few opportunities amongst this chaos and crises.

  21. JAMESGANG on 20TH APRIL 2021 3:11 PM







    ‘Ernie – Seapiracy, by you logic, we’re all intrinsically biased according to our chosen means of sustenance.’









    The whole point of the so called documentary was to try to win people over to veganism.



    It wasn’t a quest for truth.



    Everyone involved in its production, from the presenter to the funders, is a committed vegan. It was a propaganda exercise. And a very poor one at that, for the reasons set out in the link I provided earlier.



    But the gullible and credulous accept it at face value without any questioning or critical analysis being applied.

  22. we should be shouting and promoting from the high heavens our 9 in a row x 2, our quadruple treble and big cup winners and not having to have rammed down our throats at every turn their 1 title win and all thems previous now non existence history and be subject to thems kid on 150 anniversary celebrations , oh how silent we are.

  23. HH





    it doesn’t take Einstein to spell Einstein’s name correctly



    bottom of the class for P67



    at least he spelt it wrong twice so can’t argue about his consistency.





    I bet he got 100% for arithmetic though.

  24. Tim Malone Will Tell on

    I reckon that it might be best to let the 6 move onto pastures new and kick them out of their domestic leagues.



    They are owned by a motley collection of gangsters, murderers and financial shysters – let them go and take their baggage with them. The rest of the football world should hit the reset button and put some new governing bodies in place that will prevent inappropriate ownership and enforce financial fair play. It might mean that Celtic can never face the likes of Man Utd or Liverpool again in a meaningful competition – but I think a lot of us could live with that if we got back to a meritocracy and level playing field with “real” football teams rather than some trumped up circus act.



    In the meantime, the malcontents can piss off and hawk their wares to US, China, India, BetFred, JP Morgan, ESPN etc. – in many ways, they will be the ones who become increasingly irrelevant.


    How long will it take before some owner decides that London has too many clubs and relocates to New York, Beijing or Timbuctoo for another few quid?

  25. ERNIE LYNCH on 20TH APRIL 2021 3:21 PM



    Again 100% correct. An uncomfortable truth.




  26. squire danaher on




    I think you’re being a bit unfair on G Neville.



    I made a point of watching the post game show (sorry for the American-ese) on Sky last night.



    Neville and Carragher were very critical of the ESL venture.



    GN’s view was basically that MU and Liverpool, as proper clubs with proper history, should know better. He markedly did not include the other 4 English in this claim.



    Carragher – much to the host’s acute embarrassment – actually suggested that Sky round the clock criticism and opinion polls condemning the ESL left them open to the charge of hypocrisy bearing in mind the Greatestleagueintheworld was a Sky-backed breakaway.



    I think nearly 20 years under the influence of SAF has shaped GN’s views be as credible as you could reasonably expect of a millionaire ex footballer.

  27. haven’t watched Seaspiracy but my daughter has, and she says the treatment of workers directly or by macro economic pressures is the most shocking part. Plus she mentioned regulators/observers going missing at sea – sounded a bit outlandish

  28. 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.



    do you mean if Dave the cheat had not misregistered 92.1% of all players from 99 t0 2012 or acting as a fine knighted unionist in shafting her majesty for £140m


    alas who self harms is the same decision as who we beat in front of us


    they done themselves and it was beautiful to watch

  29. Trying to blind us a bit with science Paul?



    I thought you were making a very good case for being in support of the ESL, but maybe not.



    I personally think It would be an excellent opportunity for Celtic.



    UEFA have been leeches on football´s back for too long.



    Making it more and more difficult for the champions of Scotland to enter even the first round of the frickin Champions League these last 20 years has demonstrated how much UEFA think in terms of football family. Scotland is the home of football.

  30. Squire D



    I think the charge of hypocrisy for G Neville stands.



    He and his club benefited from the steroid injection of TV and sponsor money into the Big Leagues and, for most of the time, Man U were the biggest club in the most pumped up league. He could have gone down the FC United of Manchester route but he stayed with the money.



    Now, he is emploted by Sky, the power behind that throne, and he is speakingtheir message. Believe me, if Rupert Murdoch was in on the negotiations to be behind the breakaway league, Neville would have been, at least, quiet on the proposals, and would not have risked his huge salary to question his owner. He would also, if he was still a Man U player, not have refused to perform in this new breakaway league.



    He already faced that dilemma when the PEL broke away as an elite league and he did so ,a fter the Glazer takeover when a new United club was formed by the purists. G Nevill did not align with the purists.



    The only difference now is in the scrapping of relegation. That was not a moral dilemma that Gary Nevill ever had to give a moment’s thought to when playing for a pumped up club in a pumped up league for all of his career.

  31. GlasgowBhoy – regarding the bike racks, there is a recent article here that gives you some ideas. I have the Thule RaceWay 3 992 / RaceWay PRO 3. I used this when driving from Denia to France to do a Coast-to-coast Pyrenees ride. It’s excellent and easy to set up (after first time). Thule is a top quality brand.





    For convenience, however, you cannot beat the suction -based ones.

  32. RIMTIMTIM on 20TH APRIL 2021 3:34 PM



    Scotland is the home of football.



    If you have Twitter follow Ged O’Brien, facts and links galore in support of Scotland giving the game to the world



    Ged O’Brien@gedboy58


    Currently writing ‘The Scottish Game: How Scotland Invented Modern World Football’ for book and TV.