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. As an after thought .


    In the extremely,extremely,extremely,extremely,unlikely event, that Mourinho is even approached.


    It would show that we are helplessly being blown about in the wind.


    Flying about by the seat of our pants.


    By clueless directors and executives.





    Derby County’s relegation worries deepened as the Rams suffered a fourth successive Championship defeat at Preston North End.



    That’s it we are getting WAYNE ROONEY as he is IRISH. Well an IRISH name .


    Sorry my wife says WAYNE is not IRISH.



    Shirley JOHN WAYNE ……………………………..

  4. LIONROARS67 on 21ST APRIL 2021 7:53 AM











    Dermot Desmond 32,772,073 34.7%





    Lindsell Train Ltd. 17,557,438 18.6%







    Buy these two shareholdings and you control Celtic, it could be all done and dusted in 24 hours








    Technically though that wouldn’t be a ‘hostile’ takeover. For the takeover to be regarded as hostile it has to be against the wishes of the current management. Given the stranglehold grip that TGD has on the club a ‘hostile’ takeover isn’t possible.



    But it’s true that the ownership and control of the club could be achieved with the stroke of a pen or the click of a mouse, with the fans powerless to prevent it.



    Given the current shambles though you begin to wonder if it could actually get much worse under a different owner.



    Ideally ownership should be so widely spread that fans would have some influence and I think that’s what the CT are trying to achieve.

  5. !!Bada Bing!! on

    Mourinho, Benitez, the kind of guff that Lawwell liked,as it kept delusional fans awake at night, and took the spotlight off his bonus and heated driveway,get real.

  6. TINYTIM on 21ST APRIL 2021 8:41 AM




    Appointing Mourinho would be the the greatest deus ex machina in the history of the universe.



    I still think Arlene’s more likely though.

  7. I wonder where a fading iconic superstar manager who is absolutely loaded could rebuild his career, be undisputed top dog and get European football, could go ?



    Nothing is impossible until its done: Nelson Mandela

  8. Hostile as in relation to what truly makes Celtic FC, Celtic……………..Generations of supporters, do we want a Glazer family ?



    CT is the only game in town for fans having a say, influence in their club



    Quelle surprise on these pages they are under attack

  9. Simon Kuper is a British author. He writes about sports “from an anthropologic perspective.”


    ( whatever that means )





    Martin Jol always said “nothing in football is what it seems”. What he meant was that behind the glitz, the game was a lot more amateurish than you could imagine.



    What a clown show this $4.2bn Super League of the “world’s greatest clubs” has turned out to be.





    We say in Soccernomics: “Anyone who spends any time inside football soon discovers that just as oil is part of the oil business, stupidity is part of the football business.”






    Related to this: a fellow football writer once told me he’d tried and failed to do business with a legendary English football institution. He said, “I can work with crooks, and I can work with stupid people. But I can’t work with stupid people who think they are crooks.”






    It’s that uniquely football mixture of stupidity plus greed that we saw in action this week





    football is an industry where practically everyone in a boardroom is a white man, so the talent pool they are drawing from is not large. There’s also a fast track for ex-players, sons of senior officials, people’s mates etc where intelligence is not a criterion





    More on the football/stupidity thread: one club president told me that ex-players who get executive jobs don’t understand office work, e.g. even the basic concept of working 8-hour days. My response would be: ‘So don’t hire ex-players.’ But fans and media love it when you do





    That’s the basic weirdness of the football industry. On the field, it’s pure meritocracy. There are no bad professional footballers. (I hear your jokes, but really, there aren’t.) But off the field: zero quality control, many mediocrities in top jobs (including some coaches)

  10. ernie lynch on 21st April 2021 8:24 am



    You already know I am not. So why ask a question you know the answer to?

  11. !!Bada Bing!! on

    I wonder how the fans of Arsenal, Man U,Man C,Chelsea and Arsenal, would react, if they were papped out of the European semi finals next week, and banned from Europe for a year? These clubs need to get punished, and used as a deterrent for future breakaways

  12. I was a member of the labour party during the Thatcher period, not been a member of any party since the Blair period.

  13. FAVOURITE UNCLE on 21ST APRIL 2021 8:30 AM



    To be fair, it was the Sun’s story. The BBC has a “gossip” column where they show headlines from tabloids. Not to be taken seriously.

  14. !!Bada Bing!! on 21st April 2021 9:02 am



    I would love to see that but don’t believe for a second they have the moral courage to do it.

  15. GREENPINATA on 21ST APRIL 2021 8:53 AM



    There’s talk of Mourinho going to Valencia. Probably his level now. He’s finished as an elite manager.

  16. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    How journalism works.



    Celtic entered the pandemic with significant cash in bank and a trend of profit (or at least non-loss).



    Sevco entered the pandemic with no cash, debts all over the place and staggering year-on-year losses. (And then signed more players).



    “Celtic have serious financial problems”



    “Sevco? Sshh! Whisper it, criminals don’t do audited accounts”



    PS – anyone watch Jeremie playing for Leverkusen last night?



    Good luck to the young man, but I reckon we cashed out at exactly the right time.



    Hail hail



    Keep The Faith



    We’re Not Half of Anything

  17. I think that’s me finally managed to process Sunday’s defeat.



    Onwards and upwards (hopefully)





    Big Jimmy,



    My cousin played in the school team with Pat Nevin. He said if they were ever getting beat they would just give it to him and he’d get them a penalty.









    So football is full of mediocrity? Good to know, I might find a career for myself after all…




    Agree on Frimpong. Lots of talk about what he “could’ve been” or saying he’d be “good with the right coaching” but this was all purely hypothetical.



    What isn’t hypothetical is the fact we got £11m for someone whose end product was no better than Jonny Hayes.



    My main concern is how well that money will be reinvested.

  19. So the great and the good ( I know) designed, developed, announced and cancelled the super league in a matter of weeks. We don’t have a sniff of a manager after 6 months.


    Absolutely shambolic.



    Not a word to the fans on what is happening at Celtic Park from our absentee landlord.


    The arrogance is really quite breathtaking.


    Know your place, pay your money, keep quiet and accept that we know whats best for you.


    I can’t get my head around the current strategy, is it that they think every season ticket holder is a stupid blindly loyal happy clapper? Or are they really that incompetent?


    Not lazy journalism. Maybe the masthead should change to ‘Celts not for change’.

  20. squire danaher on

    GEEBEE1978 on 21ST APRIL 2021 8:18 AM



    Any scrap of credibility the ‘Jose to Celtic’ story as is based on a well publicised comment he made to the effect he would never work for a small fish in a big pool, but maybe would work for a big fish in a small pool.



    Tootingham Hotspuds were paying Jose £250k a month.



    With that in mind, to suggest he’d even pick up the phone to Celtic is fanciful nonsense.

  21. MAJESTIC HARTSON on 21ST APRIL 2021 9:19 AM



    Get behind me in the queue , I’m the medocritist ( is that a word ) of the mediocre 😜

  22. No mention of the necessity of the new club here (apologies to JHB and MOST Celtic supporters):



    There may not have been much recent success, but Celtic fans travelling to a city has long been a highlight and is part of the fabric of football on the continent.



    That’s a stance which Italian politician Enrico Letta clearly agrees with. Quoted by FC Inter News, he said: “But Europe is different from the United States! It is the Europe of 40 different capitals that often reach each other in half an hour by plane, of 40 flags, of 40 languages, of 40 stories. It is thrilling to see Celtic Glasgow’s horizontal striped jersey in Europe, it is to follow Atalanta and Leicester’s exploits, it is to be enthusiastic about the charm of a Lisbon derby between Sporting and Benfica. We must defend all of this.”




  23. Go tell the Spartim on

    Big Jimmy,



    You paint a true picture of the man, from my limited chats with him, he would always give encouragement to anyone he talked with, aprt from talking football he would always tell me that when eating when you get to the point that you could eat the same size portion again, you’d already had enough to eat, at the time I’d ignore that, nowadays it’s all about portion control.



    My father grew up in Easterhouse too, and about 15 years ago I stayed there myself, though I’m about pats age now.



    There’s no way we’d meet Mourinho’s wages, he’d be better off at Valencia, though much talk in Spain is that international football is probably a more suitable fit for him, hope so.



    This is based on no facts and flies in the face of all the prior evidence of how our power brokers work, but I’m quite relaxed about the next manager, I think they know who it is and he’s doing some preparatory work in the background. Anyone think Kennedy admitting he might leave is a bit of kite flying, much like the ESL proposals?

  24. glendalystonsils on

    I love watching good footballers , but I can hardly bear to watch Kieran Tierney or Andy Robertson play because we have replaced them with JohnJoe Kenny and Diego Laxhalt .



    It’s like some sort of cruel joke .

  25. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    Juventius chairman and super-league founder throws in the towel.



    Will these teams be punished or pandered?



    I’ll go for the latter. The kiss-and-make up circus you’re about to witness will make you sick.

  26. big jimmy



    I know you were a city bhoy, but wasn’t the tattie howking supposed to be about picking potatoes for the farmer? No?




  27. GO TELL THE SPARTIM on 21ST APRIL 2021 9:53 AM




    Mr Nevin really was wee Pats ” Mentor” in my opinion, thats why I was jealous because I wanted a Father like Mr Nevin. My Da was too busy working, drinking, gambling, watching Celtic and chasing Wummin.





    At the time when Mr Nevin was Coaching wee Pat beside us in Easterhouse, the Nevins lived on that side of Wellhouse road, next to the newly built Eastwood Primary school whos grounds we used to have kickabouts. I lived on the opposite side of Wellhouse Road….or the ” High Road” as we called it ?


    I know the Nevins eventually moved to Barlanark at some point.


    When I was alongside Mr Nevin at the SFA Coaching Course we would have some chats etc, and he told me that “Wee Pat had been with Celtic Boys Club, and there were rumours that wee Pat would sign for Celtic, who were apparently very interested, but along came Clyde FC with a Contract offer for wee Pat. His Dad admitted to me ( and others), that although the family were Celtic supporters, HE ( Mr Nevin)…ADVISED wee Pat to sign for Clyde rather than wait for Celtic, and that wee Pat would likely get a chance in Clydes First Team…BEFORE being anywhere near to Celtic’s First Team ?



    I have NO reason to doubt what Mr Nevin told me…and it turned out to be good advice with the Career that wee Pat eventually had with Everton, Chelsea etc etc ?




  28. CELTIC MAC on 21ST APRIL 2021 10:12 AM


    big jimmy







    I know you were a city bhoy, but wasn’t the tattie howking supposed to be about picking potatoes for the farmer? No?











    The short and honest answer is…NO…Not for any Farmer. The Tatties were for us and some given out to neighbours and our own families etc.


    In other words…My Ma and Mrs Tracy STOLE the Tatties.


    I was maybe 7-9 years old and my ” Ma” and me would head out to the Fields of Easterhouse along with a Neighbour ( Mrs Tracey and her Beautiful Daughter called Brenda) with the Two empty Wheel Barrows, and bring them back full of Tatties.


    Wee Brenda Tracy was a neighbour and Primary School Classmate of mine in the 1960’s…I was in LOVE with wee Brenda for years !


    She never returned that love……….She had ” Big Ears” anyway !



  29. GuyFawkesaforeverhero on

    Good luck to the Celts tonight, another game I won’t be a viewer.



    By what I’ve read about Sunday, it was a repeat outing from all the forwards who made it onto the field. No goals, no assists. Fingers crossed for some pride in themselves to be shown later.





    In this neck of the woods, the Scottish Labour candidate is a Clydebank lawyer Douglas McAllister.



    In 2021, it’s ok to be a cat called Doug. Vote! Doug.



    After all these Months of NOT having any Beer served to me at a Pub Outside or Inside……I have been looking forward to this Monday to get myself to a Pub with a Beer Garden and have many Pints of Beer…


    Literally 10 minutes ago…I got a Letter from The NHS for me to go for my Second Jab…and guess what ?



    The Appointment is timed for THIS Monday the 26th April at 19.10 pm !



    This obviously means that I can NOT go out drinking that Day…Feckin TYPICAL…Ive a good mind to refuse that appointment and have it changed..


    Unbeliveable..its enough to turn a Good Man to Drink !


    Not happy.



  31. If a European Super League had been created in 1970, the following eight teams would have been in it (Euro quarter- finalists):






    Legia Warsaw


    Leeds Utd


    Vorwaerts Berlin




    Standard Liege



    Half of these clubs play in countries where it is impossible for the champions to win the CL.

  32. squire danaher on




    This article contains the following quote, the conclusion of which speaks volumes.



    “Lennon and interim manager John Kennedy have witnessed the side win 21 games, lose the identical amount – to Steven Gerrard’s team twice, St Mirren and Ross County – while drawing nine. They have netted 72 goals, conceded 24 with the same goal difference of 48. They sit on 72 points – 20 adrift of the Ibrox side who have won their first title in a decade.”