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. BIG JIMMY-you’ve waited this long for a beer,one more day won’t matter.


    Hope it all goes well on Monday.


    Enjoy that beer on Tuesday 😉🍻

  2. squire danaher on

    GO TELL THE SPARTIM on 21ST APRIL 2021 11:10 AM






    So a cqn article goes along with the continuation myth ?









    That’s the only way I can interpret that final sentence.

  3. Was the ESL only ever about getting UEFA to pander even more to the so called ‘elite’ teams from the ‘elite’ leagues? Will there be a ‘deal’ done with UEFA which will in fact make the ‘Champions’ League even more of a closed shop, with even bigger riches for them? However, the fact remains that both Barcelona and Real Madrid have eye watering debt, watch this space

  4. ” I go to the Dentist for my groceries and the pub to get drunk and bore my small circle of friends and family…”




  5. FAIRHILL BHOY on 21ST APRIL 2021 10:56 AM


    BIG JIMMY-you’ve waited this long for a beer,one more day won’t matter.





    Hope it all goes well on Monday.





    Enjoy that beer on Tuesday 😉🍻




    I know mate…I have NO intention of changing my Vaccine Appointment Day and time, as I do NOT wish to mess around with the NHS etc…so One Day more for Beer SHOUDLNT Kill me…But its a bugger !





  6. MCPHAIL BHOY on 21ST APRIL 2021 11:27 AM


    ‘Was the ESL only ever about getting UEFA to pander even more to the so called ‘elite’ teams from the ‘elite’ leagues? ‘







    Well if it was it hasn’t panned out like that.



    It’s like when you go in to rob a bank and threaten the teller with a gun only to pull the trigger accidently and squirt some water at the screen.

  7. squire danaher on

    Big Jimmy



    Don’t want to cause you any further distress, but hopefully you have no ill effects to your jag which might further derail your long awaited return to licences premises ……

  8. Bognorbhoy,



    Okay we’ll agree to differ on who is more mediocre, so how about a deal – if either of us mediocorites (I’m sure that’s a word…) get a job in the world of mediocre people that is football, we go halvers on the wages.



    I’m not greedy and I’m not fussed about 250k a week a la Mourinho.

  9. The ESL will be back.


    This is just an early shot over the bows.


    A toe in the water to test the temperature.


    Wonder if Desmond has spoken to Jose yet.

  10. Go tell the Spartim on

    The European Super League is like a lads night out before everyone asks their Mrs if it’s alright

  11. Would this be a good time for clubs from the “smaller” leagues to get together and try and push UEFA into making European club competition fairer – for example, every champion starting at the same point.



    It feels like this a time when supporters of the top teams would be in favour of more competition- even at the potential detriment of their own team.



    I’m hoping the Football Supporters Europe group are making this point to UEFA

  12. Actually here’s what they have to say about it…






    The past few days have been encouraging and dispiriting in equal measure.



    On the one hand, we have witnessed the overwhelming effectiveness of collective action and solidarity, which, it turns out, are more than a match for the wealth of oligarchs.



    On the other, the unsustainable nature of modern football—its lack of oversight, widespread inequality, and rampant greed—has been laid bare for all to see.



    Unlike the franchise league, these problems will not disappear overnight. FSE is therefore committed to maintaining pressure on European and domestic football governing bodies to ensure that recent events bring about positive, lasting change.



    Most urgently, we will continue to challenge plans to expand the UEFA Champions League, with a particular focus on the number of games, access list, and revenue distribution.



    Beyond this, we will work with other stakeholders to push for meaningful reform of the game’s governance structures. We fully expect national governments and European institutions to honour their commitments to protect fans, clubs, and football as a whole.



    To avoid a repetition of this week’s debacle, fans’ representatives must be involved in decision-making processes and club cartels must be prevented from acting with impunity.



    We demand stronger regulation. We demand immediate action to safeguard our clubs and communities. And we demand this never happens again.



    The real fight begins now.

  13. SQUIRE DANAHER on 21ST APRIL 2021 11:45 AM


    Big Jimmy







    Don’t want to cause you any further distress, but hopefully you have no ill effects to your jag which might further derail your long awaited return to licences premises …




    Cheers mate, but I was fine after my First Jab, so Im not expecting any problems with the Second one…..although I wont have any problems with my FIRST Pint of Beer….but I may experience some problems when I reach 15/18 Pints ?





  14. Majestic Hartson


    Thanks for that info.


    Now is the time for clubs like ours to act.


    Do we have a good record of striking while the iron is even cozy?


    Answers on a postcard to “Rangers”, Not as dead as we would like, Govan.

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