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  1. Bhoy From The Boyne on

    A alternative read for anyone else fed up thinking or discussing our pantomime season.






    A European Super League would violate EU competition law – as would UEFA’s proposed reforms of the Champions League



    The last year has seen mounting speculation that some of Europe’s top football clubs are preparing to establish their own European Super League. Tsjalle van der Burg argues that given a European Super League would violate European competition law, the European Commission should step in and forbid it. This would empower European football’s governing body, UEFA, to reform football for the benefit of supporters.


    Since 1998, major European football clubs have threatened several times to leave UEFA competitions and start a European Super League. Until now, the threats have always ended with UEFA reforming its competitions to the advantage of the big clubs. As a result, many big clubs can qualify for the Champions League more easily now, and they get a larger share of the revenues from European competitions.



    The same thing seems to be happening again this season. In October 2020 there were, according to David Conn, reports that the bank JP Morgan had been asked to examine the financial possibilities of a Super League, a project said to have been initiated by Real Madrid. Top clubs have always been hesitant to support a breakaway Super League publicly, but, according to Conn, concrete proposals for a Super League were being discussed by top clubs including Manchester United and Liverpool. FIFA and UEFA firmly rejected any proposal along these lines on 21 January. Football supporters’ groups at top clubs across Europe also made a strong collective statement, issued by Football Supporters Europe on 29 January, condemning proposals for a Super League.



    At the same time, UEFA is “understood to have proposed” a new format for the Champions League, which includes a larger number of matches. From the media coverage, one gets the impression that the reform would be particularly beneficial for the big clubs. Dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad, for instance, noted that the Dutch champions are expected to earn so much money from playing in the new Champions League that it may tear the Dutch competition apart.



    What has been missed is that these developments are illegal from the perspective of European competition law. This stems from the fact that football clubs compete with one another for consumers (stadium visitors, television viewers, buyers of club merchandise) at the national level (mainly). For instance, to attract consumers, Ajax Amsterdam is strongly competing with other Dutch clubs. Consequently, as far as the end products of the football industry are concerned, the ‘relevant markets’ are the national markets. Note that the relevant markets are the markets on which courts focus when they have to answer the question of whether there is sufficient competition or whether competition has been reduced to an extent that harms economic welfare.



    The observation that the relevant markets for the products of football clubs are national markets is not a new one. For instance, economists, legal scholars and the European Commission all agree that the relevant markets for TV coverage of football are national markets. However, this insight has not yet been applied to the new competition formats. If it were, it would become clear that both a European Super League and the proposed reforms of the Champions League would violate European competition law.



    This is evident when one considers how competition has developed within national markets in recent decades. In most European countries, the number of football clubs with a realistic chance of winning the Champions League has decreased. In the Netherlands, for instance, Ajax is in the process of becoming by far the most popular choice for Dutch fans who want to follow a club that still has some chance of winning a European title. This means that clubs like Feyenoord Rotterdam and PSV Eindhoven will, in the long run, be less able to compete with Ajax when it comes to attracting new fans. Ajax will therefore gain market power, and competition within the Dutch market will be reduced. According to general economic theory, this will result in higher prices for fans.



    This example shows why it is important to focus on national markets. In Europe as a whole, there may be some thirty clubs that still have a realistic chance of winning the Champions League one day in the future. From this perspective, it may seem there is sufficient competition, and there would still be no harmful lack of competition even if the number of clubs that can win the Champions League decreased to twenty.


    However, once it is established that the main relevant markets are national markets, it becomes clear that developments even in big footballing countries like England are problematic. In the past, relatively small English clubs like Nottingham Forest had a serious chance of winning the largest prize in European club football (the European Cup, as it was then known), but there are now only around eight English clubs, at a push, who have a serious chance of winning the Champions League. English fans who would like to follow a top club within England therefore have less choice than they did in the past.



    The European Super League



    A European Super League would simply reinforce this process. Let us first assume it would be a closed league, without relegation and promotion. Each country would then have at most one or a handful of clubs playing in this elite league, and their names would always be the same. It is not unlikely that the Netherlands would have only one participant, Ajax, which would give the Amsterdam club a monopoly on top-level football in the Dutch market. England might have six clubs playing in the Super League, potentially leaving the English market for top-level football divided between these six clubs forever. In other words, competition in national markets (the relevant markets) would be strongly reduced as a result of the introduction of a closed Super League.


    Even a more ‘open’ version of the Super League – incorporating the possibility of promotion and relegation – would stifle competition. This is because the clubs that play most regularly in this elite competition, earning big money in the process, would steadily gain a greater advantage over the other clubs in their own country. The choices for young people who want to be a fan of a club that can win the highest prizes would therefore be strongly reduced. As such, the Super League would lead to less competition in the relevant markets, even if it were an open league.



    A Super League could only be created if several clubs agreed to take part. But this would essentially entail them reaching an agreement that restricts competition. Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) prohibits “all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices… which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market”. Since legal scholars and the courts have come to agree that football clubs are undertakings, there can be one conclusion only: a European Super League violates European competition law.



    A return to democratic decision-making:


    As discussed above, major clubs have been jointly threatening to leave UEFA since 1998, which has forced UEFA to reform the Champions League in a way that benefits these clubs. The present threats may well have the same result, causing Europe’s largest clubs to become even stronger on the pitch. This would increase their chances of winning European and national titles. As a result, competition in national markets for the products produced by football clubs would decrease. These developments can only be described as concerted actions to restrict competition and would also violate EU competition law.



    The European Commission is therefore legally bound to put an end to the threats of a Super League. If it did, the power of the top clubs would diminish and UEFA (an association) would once again be able to pursue a policy based on the principle of ‘one member, one vote’. The members of UEFA are the national football associations, with associations from smaller countries having the majority of the votes and most members of the national associations being small clubs.



    This return to democratic decision-making would produce more opportunities for smaller clubs, improve the excitement of existing competitions, and reduce prices for fans. Put simply, we would get greater variety, greater quality, and lower prices, which are precisely the objectives of European competition law. The European Commission has had the opportunity to intervene since 1998 – the only question remains, what is the Commission waiting for?



    Note: This article gives the views of the author, not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy or the London School of Economics.



    About the author:


    Tsjalle van der Burg is an Assistant Professor at the University of Twente. He previously held positions at the University of Groningen, the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam.

  2. Moi did more in 10 minutes than rogic did in the whole game.


    Too many number 10s on the pitch.


    No doubt laxalt put in some effort.

  3. I really don’t know a diamond midfield that has ever worked in modern day football.



    The gaping hole in the middle of the park if players are not coached in the role is glaringly obvious as it was last night with brown.



    It allows a foothold and a way out for sides under pressure for when they retain possession they simply hit the ball into that space and try to hold it up.



    Last night on that pitch required a 4-3-3 or a 3-2-3-2 in order to hem them in with numbers and the constant pressure would have paid off.



    Neil should have seen this and changed it.



    Why he and Kennedy were looking at Strachans ipad at 75 mins 1-0 down I will NEVER know.


    What he is explaining or explained ALL season long I would love to know.



    Neil’s biggest mistake this season was HIS failure to appoint HIS coaching team.



    He SHOULD have had a Thomson, mjallby type beside him to bounce off, to be able to rouse up the dressing room and have the instant respect of the players in the dressing room for thier achievements in football to be able to connect and seek that experience as a ex pro.


    Damien duff was that player last season and is a massive miss I am sure.



    The board should have helped neil by removing him but as far as I can see are using him as a human shield .



    The season was gone after the Derby loss at new year, and I would be surprised if a new manager (currently in a job)hasn’t been identified already and will take over in summer.



    How a clear out of playing staff will affect us short term we won’t know, but it is imperative that it is built around turnbull, macgregor forrest…..



    The rest ?



    Thanks for the good times



    But Every one can go.

  4. Under Martin O’Neill Neil Lennon was a good player in a very good team with a very good manager. Under Gordon Strachan he was a decent player in a good team with a good manager. Not a legend though by any stretch of the imagination short of hallucinogenics. Taking over from Tony Mowbrey, Neil was given a free pass in the league, and managed one game under pressure, the Scottish Cup semi-final against Ross County and failed miserably. He publicly blamed the players, and yet looking back County, like Inverness before them and Partick Thistle way before that, played very well. The next season, 2010-2011 as both Coneybhoy and James Forrest have pointed out, he threw away the League against the man with no surname with a shocking lack of professionalism. I’ve recounted an anecdote on here of a trip OldTim and myself made to Lennoxtown during that season of which was only one example. Rangers subsequent collapse, and the absence of a serious rival guaranteed Celtic the next three titles, and indeedRonny the next two after that. Brendan nailed two and and handed Lenny a winning team and set-up and a decisive lead in 2018-19 which we never relinquished. Last season Stephen Gerard could not sustain a challenge in a shorted league, but who knows how we would have performed against his team had the two Old Firm matches actually being played. This season, Neil Lennon’s first full season with a consistent Rangers challenge since 2010-2011, he has failed miserably to keep them under any pressure, and as such is the manager responsible for throwing away the opportunity to create his own history, that of being in charge when we broke Big Jock and Big Billy’s record of nine in a row. Legend? Maley and Stein yes. Neil Lennon no, no and no again.

  5. Should Neil Lennon be under any illusion that he’s a Celtic legend, he’ll quickly be set straight should he walk into any Celtic supporter function post lock down.



    I hope never to hear from again once he’s finally out the door.

  6. My friends in Celtic,



    The performance last night was absolutely shocking.


    Even for die hard fans it was a very hard watch,


    however we could easily have won the game if we had converted our gilt edged chances.



    We would now be having the discussion with those who did not watch the game but only look at results. 6 games in a row they would have exclaimed, what more do you want ?



    The result only highlights what we have been watching this season. It is dire and if fans were allowed to witness ” performances ” that reflection would be totally evident.



    Look at the resources and renumeration between the two sides and yet it was difficult to tell who was bottom of the table. But it was obvious who was up for the game.



    Yes we need managerial change but the manager doesn’t instruct players to miss absolute sitters. Where was our energy level prior to losing a predictable set piece?



    Our 5 game winning streak has only papered over the massive canyons that current exist within our club.



    What has happened?



    We cannot allow NFL’s reputation or Celtic’s to sink any further. He is undoubtedly a Celtic man and he needs protected.


    We cannot build for the future with the status quo. We need a new beginning. Act now Celtic, take the first step of our rebuild.



    HH to all.

  7. Celtic Mac,


    Not interested in your”What ifs”about last season.Fantasy.The season Smith won the league you are on about,they were at the height of their cheating with a strong team.Buying the likes of Jelavic,with no intentions of paying for him.


    You say he beat nothing ,because the Huns collapsed.What about Brendan,what did he beat,or Ronnie.Are you saying the whole 9 was a sham.Thats Hun talk.Yes we all know about this season,but kindly stop talking pish about the rest.


    He has to go.Thats it.End of story.End of your “What ifs”.

  8. Morning all.



    Big Tam taking a doin this morning.Aye hes been shit this season.I prefer to mind him when hes was number 1 hunskelper, invincible winning goalscorer and all they other magnificent goals he scored.



    Bet he wasnt getting destroyed then.



    His Celtic time is over but on his day was a joy


    to watch.

  9. Bhoy From The Boyne on

    Highly likely to be auto qualification to Champions League for next season’s league winners.

  10. For Gods sake,someone at the top put Lenny out of his misery.He does not seem to know its for the best.Like a horse with a broken fetlock.Its humane.Not swallowing this stuff about the cash owed him.He had a 1 year contract.Buttons to pay him up.Much more profitable to get someone in,and try and get a team organized for the CL,and sell ST for next season.Of all the things we can call this Board,stupid is not one.Surely they can see the financial disaster looming ahead.


    Still will not resort to denigrating,or hurl abuse at Lenny like some on here,who seem to think that’s what we do.


    NO,thats what fekin Huns do.

  11. BFTB,


    Thats why we need to get a start on building for next season.Baffling.Is it only the fans who see this.He has to go ,NOW.Not at the end of the season.A major rebuild ahead,and no time to do it.So many players going to the Euros,won’t sign for anyone,till they end.

  12. TURKEYBHOY on 22ND FEBRUARY 2021 10:45 AM




    Neil Lennon is still in post because the Club’s absentee owner wants him there.



    Now, why would that be?

  13. Jesus, I thought helicopter Sunday was bad !



    Last night was not ok. I presume the club is breaking down doors to get a manager in – I presume that’s not easy.



    I have never bought a season ticket – sideline displays like last night must be damaging the club.


    We utterly clusterfugged the transition from BR’s super squad. let’s not double clusterfugg the transition to a whole new managerial team. Last night was not celtic.


    Easier said than done, I know. PL paid the price, I know.


    The team and lennie are not compatible at the moment.

  14. Bhoy From The Boyne on




    Agree, however I think they haven’t sounded out a new manager / head coach yet.



    If you listen to NL on Sportsound last night, he said he thinks he is the man to rebuild this club next season and he hasn’t been told otherwise. I believe NL here, particularly given he speaks with DD every other day and PL/DD/NL seem to have honest relationships with each other.



    The most likely scenario is that they are speaking with DOF/Sporting Director candidates and no decision will be made on the managers position until the new DOF is in place.



    As hard as that is for fans to accept, this for me is the most plausible explanation at play here.

  15. TURKEYBHOY on 22ND FEBRUARY 2021 10:52 AM



    I can only speculate that the club’s absentee owner is content with what is happening at Celtic.



    That the 10 has been blown and the new club playing out of Ibrox is about to win its first major tile.



    Perhaps he was concerned about what would happen to them if they failed to win this year.



    We know they have never turned a profit and had limited access to funds so could not continue on the same trajectory indefinitely.



    So perhaps things have turned out for the best.

  16. turkey bhoy



    Neil Lennon could have and should have led Celtic to the SPL title in season 2010-2011, he failed to do so because of a lack of professionalism at key points during the season. Rangers FC crashed and burned the following season. No other Scottish club had or has won the League since 1984, and no club, new or old, has been able to sustain a season long challenge to Celtic since 2012. Until now. Still got to go out and win the Leagues though, as Neil, Ronny and Brendan have all done, but only Lenny has faced a consistent and persistent challenge in the last ten years, first in 2010-11 and second in 2020-11. He failed both times. And more importantly he failed when he had the opportunity to create his own and our own history. No legend there.

  17. DD wants to get Celtic into a British league, as part of the “Old Firm”. He doesn’t care about success in Europe. So there’s no hurry to appoint a new manager.

  18. ernie


    The way things are going, we could finish outside the top two. Would that also be part of DD`s Grand Plan?

  19. HOT SMOKED on 22ND FEBRUARY 2021 11:18 AM



    If the primary objective is to ensure the huns survive as viable competitors then whether Celtic finish 2nd or 3rd in the league is irrelevant.



    They were running out of money.



    Something had to change.



    And something did.



    It is what it is.

  20. ernie


    Thanks and at least that is consistent.


    My thinking is along the lines of, if things carry on as they are,we could end up not even threatening what would then be the Huns domination. Does the Huns being strong really compensate for the money lost from CL participation along with the greatly reduced ST revenue?

  21. The Onlooker on 22nd February 2021 12:41 am


    HH good sir. 






    FrankTerry on 22nd February 2021 9:35 am


    Happy days will return!

  22. HOT SMOKED on 22ND FEBRUARY 2021 11:37 AM



    Your final question is one for the custodians of the club to answer. They do not think like supporters.



    I have also believed for some time that we also were “less than singleminded in our commitment” to win the 2011 SPL for similar reasons to which Ernie suggests.

  23. HOT SMOKED on 22ND FEBRUARY 2021 11:37 AM



    Perhaps the thinking is that having turned off a tap and been able to achieve a particular outcome all he has to do is turn it on again to achieve a different outcome.



    Or in other words, he’s still in control of events rather than the other way round.



    However far fetched the idea may be it offers an explanation for the otherwise inexplicable, and a rationale for otherwise irrational behaviour.

  24. ernie


    OK Thanks again but for me, as you suggested, `inexplicable` and ` irrational` is what that policy remains.




    Squire D


    They ertainly do not seem to think like supporters ……then again, supporters don`t all think the same either :-)

  25. Take Covid out of the equation but leave everything else as it is and a protest/boycott would be likely v Aberdeen this Saturday.


    Is it possible to do anything like that with the VST`s ? eg If those considering not renewing were, in protest, not to watch, would Celtic be aware of the numbers?

  26. Take Covid out of the equation, would the 12th man (remember the UEFA award ?) would some of the results have been different ?

  27. McPhail Bhoy on 22nd February 2021 9:16 am



    If Lenny stays on after Ross County there can only be a few scenarios allowing this;



    • They are keeping him in place until after the Old F@&m game, lose that and he’s gone and as both Neil and the Board are Old F@&rmers that would be the final straw, not the other cartload of straw from the rest of the disasters





    If that particular scenario is the one, then why add to the joy of Sevco – let them actually see NFL sacked on the back of a victory at Celtic Park? Does NFL want to give them that? Even there is any pity – go now and let someone else get on with it.