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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    I avoid negativity and like to let Celtic be run by the people running the club.



    ‘Managed decline’ is a label of convenience like ‘downsizing’, both meaningless cliches, with no relevance to where I prefer to go to see a game of football.



    I’d prefer we had an outright owner, but sadly thats not possible as big shareholders won’t sell. We ran out of luck and bought badly in year ten, I don’t apportion blame to individuals, someone else is getting a turn to run the club, great, we need a rebuild. I’d start by knocking down the mainstand and rebuilding it, to bring it in line with the rest of the ground, I’d get 7 or 8 new players for the new manager whom I’d give a bonus, for reaching the CL.



    What’s managed decline about that or watching the the first nine in a row with 25,000 regularly at home games?

  2. Must just be me.I never heard the word “Vegan” mentioned or any form of it alluded to,in Seaspiracy.All I took from it,was the plunder of the Oceans by a whole raft of different culprits.Much like the deforestation of the Rain Forests,it is a subject that that gets pushed aside,to Global warming.Its nevertheless a catastrophe for our planet.


    But not according to the CQN blowhard.Why expect anything else,from an ersatz pseud.You are like a big tart,Ernie.Take offence at anyone disagreeing with you,then the bile and sharp nails come out.Don’t meet many bitchy men.Not really a pleasant creature.Takes all sorts,mores the pity.

  3. Will any of those Super American teams get an invite to join the Super League ?



    Love that the EBT fine fellows have plenty to say about unfair financing


    Neck – Blowtorch, comes to mind

  4. SFTB


    How do you know that Gary Neville wouldn’t refuse today in SL if he was still a Man utd player

  5. Of more concern to me



    What progress on sorting Celtic future, is Dominic making


    That should be nearly 2 full days shadowing Peter 🤔

  6. squire danaher on




    I derive the impression from G Neville – the occasional times I listen to him – that he is tolerated on Sky and that they know he’s going to speak his mind.



    I think – like the rest of their sanitised EPL product – they would prefer their pundits to be bland and inoffensive, like J Redknapp.



    I will agree with you that Sky’s ‘protest too much’ attitude to ESL suggests they are not involved – yet – as a broadcast partner. Should that change so too will their editorial policy.

  7. TURKEYBHOY on 20TH APRIL 2021 3:59 PM



    ‘Must just be me.I never heard the word “Vegan” mentioned or any form of it alluded to,in Seaspiracy.’






    Maybe that bit went over your head.



    Did you read the article I linked to? Or watch the video it referred to? Of course you didn’t.

  8. NORRIEM on 20TH APRIL 2021 4:16 PM



    Waiting for that Zoom call invite from Desmondo on who the next appointment will be, I’m sure he has now found where to get the best cup of coffee in Celtic park

  9. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    SFTB – just fyi, Sky is no longer owned by Newcorp/Murdoch, it was bought by a family controlled US media company called Comcast.



    Your point is still valid, though, Neville’s narrative is shaped by his employers best interests.

  10. Ernie



    I’m going to serve you up one dish of your own variety……



    You’re failing to answer my question.


    What do you eat and how does colour your judgement. Consciously or otherwise?


    Can’t answer? Won’t answer?



    HH jg



    PS for the rest of the blog, thought and debate provoking documentary. Highlights the environmentally damaging and sometimes lethal (to fellow humans) practices of fishing around the world. Uses egs ranging from salmon farms in Scotland to Thailand, Japan and Africa. Also features the brutal, but sustainable, whale kill in the Faroes.


    At one point, you see precarious canoes miles off shore in Eastern Africa as the factory ships have hoovered up the inshore shoals. But apparently that’s all bullshit or the fishermen are stupid, because Ernie says so! 🤷🏼‍♂️


    Made by vegans? Yes.


    Does that invalidate all of their evidence?


    You decide.

  11. Fitba was NOT invented in Scotland or Ireland…Surely ..



    Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes were apparently kicking enemies heads around as a game of fitba years before Scotland or Ireland picked it up….


    They even had Midweek kickabouts without Floodlights…apparently ?



  12. JAMESGANG on 20TH APRIL 2021 4:37 PM



    Could I suggest that you read the article I linked to earlier and watch the video it refers to to?



    Then maybe you wouldn’t be so free about either imagining or misrepresenting what I said’, which was that this ‘documentary’ was a piece of crap.



    It’s a serious subject that needs to be understood and dealt with properly, not highjacked by a bunch of very well funded vegan zealots to suit their own ends.



    I have to say that I find it a bit of a surprise that so much of this stuff seems to have come as news to so many people.



    You mention the Scottish salmon farms. Joanna Blythman has been banging on about them for as long as I can remember. She wasn’t interviewed. Might that be because she has described veganism as somewhere between a cult and a mental illness?

  13. Dominic’s first day yesterday shadowing Peter Liewell went along the lines of, Dominic this is the board of Directors, he is a w#nk, he is a w#ank, he is a D!ck, he is a w#nk, he is a D!ck…. if it didn’t it should have.



    D :)

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

    DENIABHOY on 20TH APRIL 2021 3:44 PM / GlasgowBhoy



    “…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…”



    Just read that, and am thinking – that sounds brilliant !!!



    Also thinking – that sounds like a million miles away as a possibility for me – middle-aged, stressful NHS job in a central-Scotland hospital, belly getting bigger, arms and legs getting thinner, drinking too much…fekin’ life is killing me.



    How the Hell do I get from this to that !!!






  15. TIMMY7_NOTED on 20TH APRIL 2021 5:11 PM


    ‘Ernie’s favourite insult for anyone he disagrees with, cult.’








    It wasn’t my insult. It was my inaccurate recollection of Joann Blythman’s description of veganism. She was actually quoting (with approval) a former vegan, and environmental activist, Lierre Keith, who described veganism as ‘one part cult and one part eating disorder’.



    Seems like a fair description to me.

  16. St Tams



    “How do you know that Gary Neville wouldn’t refuse today in SL if he was still a Man utd player”





    I already gave you the answer.



    When faced with this choice between the elite EPL and the Glazer takeover, he voted for “Greed” – all the way down the line. If his only moral argument is that the new league lacks the jeopardy of relegation, then that is easily resolved- just create European Elite League 2 and sleep comfortably.

  17. GM



    Thanks for the correction.



    So many events in the world of high finance just pas me by.



    I agree that Gary Neville’s morality is limited by 2 situations:-



    1) his well paid punditry on behalf of Sky and their owners



    2) His ownership of Salford FC, who managed to get prmoted through several tiers of ENglish football following the cash injection of several ex- United superstars, using hte money that Sky gave to Man United to pay them




    ‘If his only moral argument is that the new league lacks the jeopardy of relegation, then that is easily resolved- just create European Elite League 2 and sleep comfortably.’






    It’s not the same thing though is it?



    At the moment, in theory at least, any club can hit hard times and be relegated, fall down the leagues, and eventually fall out altogether. This proposed set up removes that jeopardy. It’s being set up as a discrete, sealed entity divorced from any existing league set ups and national and European competitions, with the participants being chosen on their potential to produce revenue, not on sporting merit.

  19. Ernie c’mon man up for once, is cult your favourite insult or not? If not what is?

  20. BGFC/Deniabhoy, I was also impressed with that journey, I currently potter about on the flat near my house! Not sure I’m a Pyrenees guy!

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

    GLASGOWBHOY Deniabhoy – been pondering on new bikes for me and the bhoy – partly because of the explosion of cyclists on the street, partly because of the need to stop drinking myself into an early grave, and – in big part – because we love getting out and about for an adventure.



    Will start to have a serious look. Clothing might be another issue – overweight chap in lycra isn’t a good look.






  22. DeniaBhoy,


    Are there any long distance routes in Spain/France you would recommend for an averagely fit 57 yr old who generally doesn’t enjoy serious hill climbs?

  23. This proposed new football league is being run by the Americans. Celtic has a worldwide support with a sizeable fanbase in America and Canada and as one of the elite to have actually won the European Cup in historic circumstances, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the club could be invited into this league. The big problem of course would be where the players to compete at this level and the money to sign them would come from?

  24. Clothing might be another issue – overweight chap in lycra isn’t a good look.



    Tell me about it :-) Lockdown has challenged my cycling kit to the max. I’m thinking of trying WD40.






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



    *In 1992 bader came up with the idea of a Scottish Premier League breaking away fae the SFL, he had the emblem, a rampant lion and colours blue and orange’ already in place not unlike the current SPFL but with the SFL colouring.



    However tae accomplish this he required a unanimous vote from all teams in the SFL.



    I was over on holiday for the festive season and took a trip tae Parkheid for the tour just after New Year.



    Unfortunately we could not get intae the board room tae see the replica of the Big Cup as an emergency board meeting had been called.



    I joked with the tour guide that possibly Liam Brady was getting the tin tack, he laughed and said probably.



    That night sitting in my mother’s house the main headlines on the Scottish news was the proposed League was dead in the water as we had vetoed it that afternoon stating as founding members of the existing League which had prospered well for 100 + years at the time we could NOT justify ending it.



    And that was that or so we thought, I turned tae my da and said, we’ll pay for this, that narcissist rag and bone man will prove tae be vengeful. The following year he tried tae put us out of the game, nae Celtic and he gets his own way.

  26. RC


    I agree with you, we i.e. Celtic should be shouting to the heavens about our 2nd HONEST 9 in a row, our Invincible treble, our Quadruple trebles and most of all


    remind the Currant Buns “Football without fans is NOTHING”.


    Celtic being very quiet about our DOF & Manager/coach could it be our new team are involved in the International games played this summer? Is Eddie Howe still favourite or is he going out in the betting with Spurs now in the market

  27. ernie



    It is not quite the same thing but it’s closer than you think



    Just as Man u, during the Neville era were unlikely to be mismanaged badly enough to have to look at relegation from the Premiership, so are the main elite clubs unlikely to suffer relegation from their Elite level, if it comes to pass in the future. They could just invent Elite League 2 or Championship Or Elite Div3 (League One) and say they’ll introduce a relegation/promotion aspect after a 5 year period, to allow stability. By that time the teams in the top league will be so rich that any relegation will be a one year absence as they will easily outspend the teams in Elite League two and vice versa, the team coming up will be a yoyo club too. That trend is getting familiar to the EPL and Serie A etc; anyway



    The idea of doing away with relegation is just to ride out the period of UEFA and FIFA hostility. Many of their players will not give up their £1m+ per year salaries just to get £1000 for playing for Brazil or England or Spain. If the Elite clubs are going public with their plans it is for two reasons only



    1) They think they have the backing to ride out the adverse reaction and will not fold like the Packer Cricket Circus (but be more like the current Indian League manufactured competition)



    or 2) They will temporarily fold in exchange for yet more concessions on automatic CL entry e.g. any club that manages 2 quarter final apearances in the previous decade gets automatic Group entry to CL.


    They will then threaten breakaway at regular intervals to consiolidate further or to finally effect a successful breakaway.



    Thei model does not depend on match day attendance. CGI crowd effects are more reliable anyway and the young fans in China, North Africa and SE Asia will go on supporting them anyway until the first genuine manufactured club from their homeland gets invited into the elite.

  28. I watched the CL final betwen AC Milan and Liverpool in a Sports bar in Vilnius.



    The most distraught and emotional reaction at the end of the game came from a young Turkish fan whose family had a local restaurant. He cried genuine tears of distress that his beloved AC Milan had lost. He had never been to Italy far less the San Siro but he identified as a Milan fan and he was serious about it. I cannot bring myself to tell him that his emotions were in any way false.

  29. SFTB



    Thei model does not depend on match day attendance. CGI crowd effects are more reliable anyway and the young fans in China, North Africa and SE Asia will go on supporting them anyway until the first genuine manufactured club from their homeland gets invited into the elite.





    Give it a couple of years and the owners of e.g. Liverpool decide it would be financially advantageous to move to Singapore