How would you structure European football? (Super League alternatives)

Joe D Reid

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I don't have a great solution, but one of the other major structural issues with the game right now is the financial disparity between tiers (i.e. CL-PL vs non-CL-PL vs Football League).

Getting relegated out of the PL (or failing to qualify for the CL if you are a big club) blows a huge hole in a club's finances because the disparity in TV money is so stark. At the lower levels, that leads to clubs flirting with bankruptcy. At the higher level it leads to things like the Super League proposal and Liverpool apparently having an Official Watch Partner until yesterday (or Man U having Official everythings), seeking stable revenue that isn't linked to finishing position. Those huge revenue gaps also aren't entirely based on merit--there is enough randomness that you can't say the team that finished 4th is genuinely better than the team in 5th, or that the team in 17th is genuinely better than 18th. The system pins the stability of clubs to the inherent randomness of sport in a way that none of the clubs, big or small, seem comfortable with.

Increased revenue sharing would be the obvious way forward. So far, those proposals have come tied to increased oligarchy as well. Does anyone have a brilliant suggestion that would give us one without the other?
 

singaporesoxfan

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Yeah, that was a mistaken word choice on my part - I meant revenue certainty. (Cost certainty would be nice, but revenue certainty is much more important.)
I do think they want cost certainty, and that if you're listening 3 things, clubs would consider that more important than fewer clubs in their domestic leagues. Even Bayern Munich's statement in support of staying in the current system referenced the cost issues.
 

dirtynine

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One thing I often think about, when it comes to expanding predictable revenue opportunities, are competitions that have not been dreamed up yet. Instead of trying to do more with the clubs, what about a recurring all-star tournament based on the leagues themselves? You could assemble all-star squads for all the current leagues and have a big tourney every other year or something, and share the revenue between clubs (with bonuses for those who contribute players maybe?). I would find that endlessly compelling. Imagine an EPL XI vs La Liga XI - there would be great storylines about roster selection, tactics, and even players "switching teams" - Håland would start for Bundesliga XI this year, but next time around he might be in the La Liga selection. It's not upending any other current competition, and it could fill a "down" summer between Euros and WC years. You could do it at home venues, or package it up and treat it as an international road show. I feel like it could benefit from having the feel and excitement of international competition, but with all the revenue going to the leagues and clubs.
 

OCST

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I'd add, ban loan moves. This will stop big clubs buying up every youth prospect and then loaning them out until the decide if they are good enough.
Not ban, but limit. They're a useful thing for loaner club, loanee club, and player alike. But Chelsea has like 30 guys out on loan, most of whom have no shot at playing with Chelsea ever. The players are stuck in limbo. Limit to X number of players on loan, and only two loan seasons - after that either roster the guy or sell him so he can play.

Edit: posted before seeing the more nuanced and thorough discussions of loans later in the thread.
 
One thing I often think about, when it comes to expanding predictable revenue opportunities, are competitions that have not been dreamed up yet. Instead of trying to do more with the clubs, what about a recurring all-star tournament based on the leagues themselves? You could assemble all-star squads for all the current leagues and have a big tourney every other year or something, and share the revenue between clubs (with bonuses for those who contribute players maybe?). I would find that endlessly compelling. Imagine an EPL XI vs La Liga XI - there would be great storylines about roster selection, tactics, and even players "switching teams" - Håland would start for Bundesliga XI this year, but next time around he might be in the La Liga selection. It's not upending any other current competition, and it could fill a "down" summer between Euros and WC years. You could do it at home venues, or package it up and treat it as an international road show. I feel like it could benefit from having the feel and excitement of international competition, but with all the revenue going to the leagues and clubs.
Nobody gives a crap about all-star teams in Europe. For one thing, this is effectively what national teams are, and it's tough enough to shape a national team's players into a cohesive team unit with a coach whose entire job revolves around doing just that. Players are motivated to play well for their countries because of nationalism and the desire to compete in meaningful competitions, and for their clubs because of money and the desire to compete in meaningful competitions. All-star teams offer none of that.
 

thehitcat

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You'll all see my Football Manager roots here but sure I'll take a run at being czar.

I have two thoughts. The first is an add-on to the current structure and doesn't call for any specific changes other than to eat two International windows one in the Fall and one in the Spring. My idea here is based around the idea of “bumps” or crew races that the colleges that make up Oxford and Cambridge hold twice a year. Wiki on bumps

Positions would be locked in using the Uefa Coefficients at the end of the 20-21 club season. (Call it June 11 the date that is currently set for the Euro 2020 kickoff.)

So there would be two sets of bumps games every year starting in Fall 2021, the Autumn Bumps, the October 9th Break. The teams would be pulled into groups of 3 by their coefficient number playing all games at the highest seeds home pitch. Each team plays two games. The team from the three with the worst record gets bumped down. If all three teams end up 1-1 (no ties 90 minutes 15 minute Golden Goal then Penalties,) the team with the lowest starting rank gets bumped a tier while the team with the best record in the next lower tier moves up.

Example: Bayern(1) hosts Real(2) and Barca(3). Bayern beats Barca and loses to Real, Real beats Barca. So Barca is heading down a level and whoever won the group between City(4), Juve(5) and Atletico Madrid(6) moves up. Also Real as winners of the group are the new #1 and will host the top group in the spring. Barca despite losing out actually ends up hosting group 2 in the spring as they are dropping but only to (4) so while losing out hurts your pride it might help the club's finances.

Once the first round of matches are played the list is all and the coefficients are thrown out for the competition. The second set of matches would be in the Spring, the Vernal Bumps, the March 26th break (sounds vaguely disease-like need to work on that.) :)

This not only kills off two “useless” international breaks, it continually answers the question of who the best club in Europe is and over decades allows clubs to slowly but surely climb the ladder.

OK that's one I need a bit to build out the next. Feel free to shoot holes in this one.
 

dirtynine

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Nobody gives a crap about all-star teams in Europe. For one thing, this is effectively what national teams are, and it's tough enough to shape a national team's players into a cohesive team unit with a coach whose entire job revolves around doing just that. Players are motivated to play well for their countries because of nationalism and the desire to compete in meaningful competitions, and for their clubs because of money and the desire to compete in meaningful competitions. All-star teams offer none of that.
they don’t... yet. The concept doesn’t really exist anywhere. I’m not proposing an American style approach where you pick teams within a single league. Agreed, that that would not work. This is more in the tradition of special XIs that get formed from time to time for one-off matches. Fan-wise, it could slot right in to the eternal debate about which league is best. You’d see players playing together that you’d never see otherwise, which is intriguing. The best leagues offer way different compositions than national teams - an honest EPL XI would feature mostly foreign starters. Players can be incentivized by a combo of money and prestige. Uniforms could be wild and open up merch streams. It’s an incredible way to advertise the leagues globally. I don’t know - maybe it generates yawns among diehards, but I wouldn’t be so sure - and it doesn’t hurt them, which is the larger point.
 
This not only kills off two “useless” international breaks, it continually answers the question of who the best club in Europe is and over decades allows clubs to slowly but surely climb the ladder.
It sounds like you've come up with a club equivalent of the UEFA Nations League...which has already taken the "useless" international breaks to which you refer, so I don't think this could happen without a fight.
This is more in the tradition of special XIs that get formed from time to time for one-off matches.
Have you ever been to (or seen) a testimonial match? That's basically what this sounds like...and if there's one thing testimonial matches are NOT known for, it's players giving a damn about trying to win.

I'm wondering if the Indian Premier League in cricket is more of a model for what you might have in mind - basically a fake tournament between fake franchises which lasts for maybe six weeks and actually is played to win by the men who get paid exorbitant amounts of money to show up and compete. But a) where are you going to find six weeks (or three weeks, or two) for players to play these matches, whether along the lines of the IPL model or your All-Star XI model? And b) player fatigue is already a massive issue, and any extra games they'd have to play competitively would lead to massive burnout. And also c) there's no straight line between these matches in either model and filling the coffers of the clubs with cash, which is the only way something like this would happen. It's much more likely that the clubs figure something out as clubs than that they come up with a convoluted All-Star or IPL-like model that displaces the clubs themselves.
 

67YAZ

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Uniforms could be wild and open up merch streams.
You know some league would trot out a patchwork quilt style uniform with swatches of every club's main kit squeezed in there and it would ugly as hell yet utterly compelling - the kind of thing immediately decried as a crime against fashion and then show up on ebay for exorbitant prices.
 
So, here's a slightly more pie-in-the-sky proposal which might still be within the bounds of reality: have a 20-team Super League which plays a full 38-match league schedule. This Super League sits atop the other leagues, so a club either plays its domestic league or in the Super League - not both - although it would always be involved in one domestic cup competition each season. (The FA Cup becomes a midweek competition in this model, like all of the other big domestic cups across Europe.) The Champions League and the Europa League would continue along the lines of my previous proposal: the Champions League would be only for domestic champions, and the Europa League would be pretty much the same as it is now.

Four teams would be relegated from the Super League each season. Their replacements would be determined as follows:

1) The Champions League and Europa League winners would immediaely play the European Super Cup at the end of the season - the winner of that match would go to the Super League.
2-4) The domestic champions of the six European leagues with the highest UEFA Coefficient would be drawn at random to play a single match against one of the other five champions at the end of the season - the winners of each of those matches would go to the Super League as well.

These four playoff matches to determine the Super League qualifiers would take place on consecutive evenings in May, around the time of the current Champions League Final (which would move to a spot a few weeks earlier in the season). You could also make them two-legged ties and stretch the process over eight nights instead of four...either way, that would be appointment television without adding too much fixture congestion. And this structure would in theory allow any club in Europe to reach the Super League (via the Champions/Europa Leagues and the Super Cup) while offering a more direct route for the champions of the six biggest leagues - which will usually be ENG, GER, ITA, SPA, FRA and one other.

Personally, I'm a fan of segregating the big clubs from their domestic leagues. While TV revenue for clubs in the domestic leagues will obviously suffer, at the same time they should all become much more competitive and interesting - a bit like the English Championship on steroids.
 

teddykgb

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Why are we proposing things still which creates a super league? There’s no virtue in the separation, it only serves to stratify things further. Creating a new competition above the CL will only turn the CL into the Europa and the Europa into the Carabao cup. We do not need another competition and the clubs involved need to learn that they don’t have an eternal right to feast on the best players at affordable for them costs forever. There is supposed to be a cadence, only perfect management should keep you permanently entrenched at the top. If Real Madrid need to sell and use youth for a while and can’t really compete in the CL and maybe even fall out of the CL at times that’s all fine and normal or at least it should be. The “problem” is only a problem because Madrid decided Garett Bale was worth more money than anyone ever and Barca did the same with Griezmann and the Coutinho money that is never ending.
 

Dummy Hoy

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I will just add my usual caveat here, as everyone thinks domestic leagues without the big 6 (or 3 or 2 or whatever) wouldn’t get watched or have TV deals: in 2018-19, the English second division was the 3rd most attended football league in the world.

I’ve always said bring back the Cup Winners Cup.
 
Why are we proposing things still which creates a super league? There’s no virtue in the separation, it only serves to stratify things further. Creating a new competition above the CL will only turn the CL into the Europa and the Europa into the Carabao cup. We do not need another competition and the clubs involved need to learn that they don’t have an eternal right to feast on the best players at affordable for them costs forever. There is supposed to be a cadence, only perfect management should keep you permanently entrenched at the top. If Real Madrid need to sell and use youth for a while and can’t really compete in the CL and maybe even fall out of the CL at times that’s all fine and normal or at least it should be. The “problem” is only a problem because Madrid decided Garett Bale was worth more money than anyone ever and Barca did the same with Griezmann and the Coutinho money that is never ending.
I'm too cynical to think the current playing field will ever be levelled - the gap between rich and (relatively) poor will only continue getting wider, and domestic trophies will continue being monopolized by the biggest club (or clubs, if a league is lucky) in them. As such, I think creating a Super League is the only way to make domestic competitions truly interesting. There are several ways this could happen:

1) Remove the big clubs from their domestic leagues and put them in a 20-team Super League with a full 38-game schedule, and thereby turn European soccer into something resembling global basketball: one big league in which all of the best players want to play (the NBA, or ESL), and other domestic leagues that everyone knows can't compete with the Super League but which are still interesting in their own right - alongside domestic cups in which the big clubs play as well, which is even more interesting than the NBA model.

2) Have the big clubs continue to play in their domestic leagues, but make the Super League - which in this case would have something like the 19-game schedule I suggested previously - seem more important by comparison, so that the big clubs will prioritize the Super League and thereby indirectly create parity in the domestic leagues. (Although in some leagues - e.g., Germany - I'd imagine that a club like Bayern is so far ahead of the non-ESL clubs that it could probably still win the domestic league most years.)

3) As a hybrid, you could have the big clubs play in a full 38-game ESL *and* simultaneously field a team in the domestic league. Many fixtures would overlap, so they'd have to have two full squads to compete, but players could move back and forth if required - the domestic squad would work like a minor league team, but still represent the club domestically.

I think any of these would be more compelling than a model in which the same handful of clubs win the title between them in 99 season out of 100 - all but the most outrageous Leicester City-type or Montpellier-type seasons - which is where we're certainly headed at present. I think 8 or 10 clubs (if not more) would be able to conceivably win the ESL in any given season, and at least as many clubs would also dream of winning the Premier League without the Big Six or La Liga without Real/Barcelona/Atletico or the Bundesliga without Bayern and Dortmund, etc. The big clubs want to create a Super League anyway, so why not let them? As long as there's at least the possibility for the composition of the ESL to shift as new clubs rise and old clubs fall, and everyone can dream that their club could conceivably have a seat at the top table one day, I think the fans of non-ESL clubs would find this new world pretty exciting - like the English Championship on steroids, with everyone having a chip and a chair at the table and being capable of winning the league. I mean, go back over the last 10 years and find the best-placed non-Big Six club in the Premier League table: going backwards from 2019/20, you'd have Leicester, Wolves, Burnley, Everton, Leicester, Southampton, Everton, Everton, Newcastle and Everton winning the title. Everton aside - and maybe Everton would have made it into the ESL at some stage in this alternative retelling of history - that's quite an impressively diverse list, isn't it?
 
I will just add my usual caveat here, as everyone thinks domestic leagues without the big 6 (or 3 or 2 or whatever) wouldn’t get watched or have TV deals: in 2018-19, the English second division was the 3rd most attended football league in the world.

I’ve always said bring back the Cup Winners Cup.
I'm all in favor of bringing back the Cup Winners Cup, particularly in the sort of new world order I'm describing in which the ESL is its own beast and the other European competitions no longer have to cater to the whims of the biggest clubs and can instead be competitions more for the sake of competition than for money. But I would caveat your caveat and note that the English Championship may be the third-most attended league in the world, but that hardly matters at all in a world in which the vast majority of a club's revenue comes from TV deals (and prize money related to TV deals) rather than gate receipts. I do think there's still a place on world television for domestic leagues in a Super League world - I don't think even an ESL could suck up all of the demand for televised football that exists in the universe. But it would suck up a lot of the demand, perhaps even most of it, and the domestic leagues would become analog players in a digital world.
 

Cellar-Door

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I find it weird that people think that the gap would grow without a new league...
EPL is getting more competitive not less, and big money is sniffing around.

Take West Ham for example... they have the least rich owners, who are penny pinching constantly, and look on track for their second top 6 finish in 5 years... at some point Sullivan and Gold will sell, and that club is a monster in the waiting... huge stadium in London, already pretty high revenue, it can compete. Everton is right there too.
EPL is leveling off into a more competitive environment.
 
EPL is getting more competitive not less
Manchester City is 22 points ahead of West Ham (and 21 points ahead of Leicester). If you think having one or two non-Big Six clubs sneaking into the Top 5 is enough to call the league "more competitive", fine, but I think you'll be very much in the minority with that sort of definition. And remember: this is in the big European league which has the most clubs *by far* who can feel they have a realistic shot at winning the title at the start of any given season.
 

Cellar-Door

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Manchester City is 22 points ahead of West Ham (and 21 points ahead of Leicester). If you think having one or two non-Big Six clubs sneaking into the Top 5 is enough to call the league "more competitive", fine, but I think you'll be very much in the minority with that sort of definition. And remember: this is in the big European league which has the most clubs *by far* who can feel they have a realistic shot at winning the title at the start of any given season.
Yeah, if we mean true "anyone can win any year" parity, that's not happening... but it wouldn't happen in SL either, the Milan clubs, Spurs, etc would be perennial cellar-dwellers.
And sure, you're not going to have every league be competitive, but at the same time, the current setup in England is such that you can have a good percentage of the league feel they have a shot at the European qualifying places, and once you're in Europe... lot can happen there.

The bigger thing to me is... it's not about parity, it's more the idea that the gap is widening... it isn't, if anything it's narrowing. Certainly in England it is. In the other leagues it isn't really changing, if anything the financial stress on some of the top teams is growing, and they are likely to be forced back to the pack.

I also think people are not properly identifying what would happen if you pull the top teams... it wouldn't suddenly be wide open, the clubs with the richest owners in the biggest markets would stratify into a new top group.
 

Dummy Hoy

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I'm all in favor of bringing back the Cup Winners Cup, particularly in the sort of new world order I'm describing in which the ESL is its own beast and the other European competitions no longer have to cater to the whims of the biggest clubs and can instead be competitions more for the sake of competition than for money. But I would caveat your caveat and note that the English Championship may be the third-most attended league in the world, but that hardly matters at all in a world in which the vast majority of a club's revenue comes from TV deals (and prize money related to TV deals) rather than gate receipts. I do think there's still a place on world television for domestic leagues in a Super League world - I don't think even an ESL could suck up all of the demand for televised football that exists in the universe. But it would suck up a lot of the demand, perhaps even most of it, and the domestic leagues would become analog players in a digital world.
I'll disagree a bit in Engand and Germany at least. Spain is unique in that everyone has two teams, but in England for example, there are 10s of millions of fans who will watch whatever league their team is in...Germany would be the same (even if Bayern left). The English top flight would suffer a talent drain and a viewer drain minus those six teams, no doubt, but I don't think it would be as big as people think. The televison/streaming deals would still be extravagent, especially if clubs start expanding their viewing packages for fans (which I think they may, but that's probably another thread).
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The bigger thing to me is... it's not about parity, it's more the idea that the gap is widening... it isn't, if anything it's narrowing. Certainly in England it is. In the other leagues it isn't really changing, if anything the financial stress on some of the top teams is growing, and they are likely to be forced back to the pack.
I guess it depends on your time frame of reference. This year has been completely aberrational in all sorts of ways - no fans in stadiums, teams (particularly those playing in Europe and with more internationals) completely exhausted after not having a full off-season, etc.

In the big picture, the last decade has been one of unprecedentedly low levels of competition in football. Bayern is about to win the Bundesliga for the 9th straight time. Juventus won't win Serie A this year, but did the previous nine seasons. PSG may or may not win Ligue 1 this year, but has won 7 of the last 8 and the one time they lost they responded by buying the best player from their competitor. All three of those used to be very competitive leagues.

Spain has generally been the least competitive league, with the Barca/Real duopoly dominating except for rare periods, and that has largely stayed the same.

England seems like a mixed bag to me. It is certainly more competitive for the CL places than it was 10-15 years ago, although I think this year is a bit abnormal as the sides out of Europe have had an unusually big advantage due to playing fewer games in a year everybody is physically shot. I'm not sure its more competitive for the title, partly because the bar has been raised so high by the exacerbation of wealth inequality. Through 2016, the PL champion amassed more than 90 points only on four occasions. Since then, the PL champion has amassed more than 90 points every year. If City fail to do it again this year, it'll be largely because they are completely exhausted after such an unusual year. With champions tending to amass more points, its just less likely that two clubs will play at that level in the same year. We've had only one truly competitive title race in the last seven seasons.

I think the European competitions are also becoming less competitive. Eight of the last 10 CLs have been won by Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Bayern Munich. The Europa League has actually been dominated by a small number of clubs as well, with Sevilla, Atletico, and Chelsea winning nine out of the last eleven. The last time a genuinely smaller side won either of these competitions was Shakhtar winning the Europa in 2009.
 
I think the European competitions are also becoming less competitive. Eight of the last 10 CLs have been won by Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Bayern Munich. The Europa League has actually been dominated by a small number of clubs as well, with Sevilla, Atletico, and Chelsea winning nine out of the last eleven. The last time a genuinely smaller side won either of these competitions was Shakhtar winning the Europa in 2009.
One thought I've had is that if a Super League should be formed, no ESL club should be allowed to sign or loan a player from another ESL club - they could exchange players (i.e., trade them like we do in American sports), but you can't outright poach players from your closest competitors unless they are out of contract. I wonder if that would help increase stability, and/or if owners would go for that rule, and/or if a rule like this might even be doable within the current European competition structure.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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I think this might work

- create the super league - call it the Euro League (EL). Which is handier than the European Cup Winners Cup League

- invite the twenty most successful clubs , based on the the number of European Cups won (does Forest get in?). 20 teams are in. They leave their domestic leagues - but still play in domestic cups.

- full pro/rel - winners of the 8 biggest domestic leagues playoff to promote 4 teams every year/bottom 4 relegated back to their domestic leagues. That would be some tournament.

- could this happen ? Yes - will this happen ? Of course not.

Edit:

This model could also incorporate a Champions League as well - bonus

Edit #2 - the EL is going to make an absolute fortune - for this to happen it will have to share a huge portion of that revenue (50%) back down the domestic pyramids.
 
Last edited:

SocrManiac

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I hate anything that takes clubs out of their domestic leagues. It immediately cheapens any local glory.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I hate anything that takes clubs out of their domestic leagues. It immediately cheapens any local glory.
This is my gut instinct as well. But I think its sort of a PL-centric mindset. If the league you care about is the Bundesliga, then it might end up being a choice between taking Bayern out of the league or having a "competition" that one club might end up winning essentially indefinitely, which is frankly just a stupid situation. The better solution, of course, would be some kind of massive revenue sharing/redistribution but until I see a realistic plan for that I'm going to assume its not really an option.

Absolutely no American sports league in the current era, or its fans, would put up with one team winning the title 10 years in a row while spending more money on salaries than its two closest competitors combined (which is true of Bayern's wage bill versus that of BvB and RBL). It would be seen as a complete disgrace and there would be calls from media, owners, politicians, and fans for massive change.

There aren't great options here, but the status quo is truly shit in many of these leagues.
 

67YAZ

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Picking up on something Angelli said - I know, I know - the best fix might simply be to make UEFA and FIFA regulating bodies and create new organizations to handle the revenue generation.

On one hand, it would help clean up UEFA to an extent because they’d be less money flowing through it. Of course, the new media company would also be ripe for corruption, so it’s management would have to be well designed so that it’s transparent, professional, and distributing revenue for the benefit of the sport in its entirety.

One way to look at the ESL is that 12 clubs just wanted total control over media revenues & business opportunities. No doubt they would have drummed up a lot more coin from a lot more places, which in John Henry’s eyes is what’s best for the sport. And it could be if the money is well distributed across nations and up and down the pyramid.

And, aye, that’s the rub. FIFA & UEFA will never give up their media control, especially now that their hands are strengthen by the ESL debacle. Somehow, these two cesspools of corruption now have the moral high ground?
 
Absolutely no American sports league in the current era, or its fans, would put up with one team winning the title 10 years in a row while spending more money on salaries than its two closest competitors combined (which is true of Bayern's wage bill versus that of BvB and RBL). It would be seen as a complete disgrace and there would be calls from media, owners, politicians, and fans for massive change.
Ironically, I think it's the existence of European competition which mutes the outcry for change. If Bayern was only competing with other clubs in the Bundesliga and was winning the league every year in a canter, even Bayern might have an incentive to change things up (e.g., institute revenue sharing) to make the league more watchable. But because it can use its domestic dominance as a springboard for European success - and all the revenue the latter entails - there's no incentive for them to want to change anything.
 

singaporesoxfan

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I guess it depends on your time frame of reference. This year has been completely aberrational in all sorts of ways - no fans in stadiums, teams (particularly those playing in Europe and with more internationals) completely exhausted after not having a full off-season, etc.

In the big picture, the last decade has been one of unprecedentedly low levels of competition in football. Bayern is about to win the Bundesliga for the 9th straight time. Juventus won't win Serie A this year, but did the previous nine seasons. PSG may or may not win Ligue 1 this year, but has won 7 of the last 8 and the one time they lost they responded by buying the best player from their competitor. All three of those used to be very competitive leagues.
WorldFootball.net has a nice compilation of the winners of the top division for each of the leagues, so it's useful to look at:
  • England: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/eng-premier-league/ - tends to be periods of domination (the Manchester teams / Liverpool / Chelsea currently; Man U / Arsenal / Chelsea in the 2000s, Man U for much of the 1990s, Liverpool / Everton in the 1980s etc.) mixed with periods where the league was wide open (most recently that stretch in the early 1990s when 5 teams won in 6 seasons, but even that stretch counts the tail end of Liverpool's dominance and the start of Man U's rise)
  • France: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/fra-ligue-1/ - dominated recently by PSG and in the 2000s by OL. A really nice stretch in 1994-2001 where 7 teams won in 8 seasons. Before that lots of stretches of dominance by a team or two (Marseille before the scandal, Saint-Étienne, Monaco, Stade Reims etc.)
  • Germany: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/bundesliga/ - Pretty open until Bayern Munich won its second title in 1969, then it's basically been Munich vs the field (29 titles in 52 years)
  • Italy: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/ita-serie-a/ - as you noted, dominated by Juventus in the 2010s, and by Inter in the late 2000s. But eyeballing the history Serie A has always had long periods of dominance by a team or two and then occasional periods where the competition becomes wide open (e.g. the 1980s, where between 1983-1991 there were 7 champions in 9 years)
  • Spain: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/esp-primera-division/ - as you noted, the least competitive league throughout - almost always Real Madrid and Barca dominated
So it seems that historically many leagues aren't actually *that* different in terms of domination - it may be that the natural state of things in any sports league is that there are always 2-3 teams that are great at any one time. I think what's changed may be the increasing influence of money as the cause of that domination - Man U dominating the EPL in the 1990s with a squad of successes from its academy (Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, the Neville brothers etc.) was aggravating to watch as a non-Man U fan but in fairness hard to complain about.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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WorldFootball.net has a nice compilation of the winners of the top division for each of the leagues, so it's useful to look at:
  • England: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/eng-premier-league/ - tends to be periods of domination (the Manchester teams / Liverpool / Chelsea currently; Man U / Arsenal / Chelsea in the 2000s, Man U for much of the 1990s, Liverpool / Everton in the 1980s etc.) mixed with periods where the league was wide open (most recently that stretch in the early 1990s when 5 teams won in 6 seasons, but even that stretch counts the tail end of Liverpool's dominance and the start of Man U's rise)
  • France: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/fra-ligue-1/ - dominated recently by PSG and in the 2000s by OL. A really nice stretch in 1994-2001 where 7 teams won in 8 seasons. Before that lots of stretches of dominance by a team or two (Marseille before the scandal, Saint-Étienne, Monaco, Stade Reims etc.)
  • Germany: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/bundesliga/ - Pretty open until Bayern Munich won its second title in 1969, then it's basically been Munich vs the field (29 titles in 52 years)
  • Italy: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/ita-serie-a/ - as you noted, dominated by Juventus in the 2010s, and by Inter in the late 2000s. But eyeballing the history Serie A has always had long periods of dominance by a team or two and then occasional periods where the competition becomes wide open (e.g. the 1980s, where between 1983-1991 there were 7 champions in 9 years)
  • Spain: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/esp-primera-division/ - as you noted, the least competitive league throughout - almost always Real Madrid and Barca dominated
So it seems that historically many leagues aren't actually *that* different in terms of domination - it may be that the natural state of things in any sports league is that there are always 2-3 teams that are great at any one time. I think what's changed may be the increasing influence of money as the cause of that domination - Man U dominating the EPL in the 1990s with a squad of successes from its academy (Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, the Neville brothers etc.) was aggravating to watch as a non-Man U fan but in fairness hard to complain about.
I guess it comes down to a question of what differences you see as meaningful. Nobody is arguing that there haven't always been big clubs that have had dominant stretches in the past. But that observation is completely consistent with the observation that the current era is unprecedented in terms of the extent of domination of big clubs across at least 3 of the 5 big leagues (plus the European competitions). And I think the difference really is substantively meaningful. From the perspective of non-Bayern fans, there's a world of difference between Bayern being a big club that is likely to win the league half the time and Bayern being a big club that is almost certain to win the title every year almost no matter what other clubs do.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Ironically, I think it's the existence of European competition which mutes the outcry for change. If Bayern was only competing with other clubs in the Bundesliga and was winning the league every year in a canter, even Bayern might have an incentive to change things up (e.g., institute revenue sharing) to make the league more watchable. But because it can use its domestic dominance as a springboard for European success - and all the revenue the latter entails - there's no incentive for them to want to change anything.
Absolutely. And this is also a powerful argument that likely resonates with at least some parts of the German public - if they embrace a salary cap or serious revenue sharing model, it might mean that no German club will ever be competitive for the CL again (assuming other countries do not embrace this kind of model). Hardcore BvB, Bayer, or RBL supporters might hate Bayern so much that they'd be happy to see them never win the CL again, but many more casual supporters are probably influenced by nationalistic sentiment and want to see German clubs competing at the highest level in Europe, even if its not their club of choice. Its hard to imagine a revenue sharing or luxury tax system that truly restricts the spending of big clubs and levels the playing field unless it is somehow implemented on a pan-European level by an entity like UEFA or....an ESL.
 

singaporesoxfan

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This is my gut instinct as well. But I think its sort of a PL-centric mindset. If the league you care about is the Bundesliga, then it might end up being a choice between taking Bayern out of the league or having a "competition" that one club might end up winning essentially indefinitely, which is frankly just a stupid situation. The better solution, of course, would be some kind of massive revenue sharing/redistribution but until I see a realistic plan for that I'm going to assume its not really an option.

Absolutely no American sports league in the current era, or its fans, would put up with one team winning the title 10 years in a row while spending more money on salaries than its two closest competitors combined (which is true of Bayern's wage bill versus that of BvB and RBL). It would be seen as a complete disgrace and there would be calls from media, owners, politicians, and fans for massive change.

There aren't great options here, but the status quo is truly shit in many of these leagues.
It feels to me that there are three different status quos (statuses quo?) in the big 5 leagues, each with different issues and therefore different options to fix them:
  • EPL - The use of oligarch money to rise to the top is ugly and I would like to see a system that emphasizes more academy development, but the actual effect of having 3-4 teams be competitive for the top spot may not actually be that different from what a system with more revenue sharing would produce, just that the latter system might reward different teams. Can't say that the end result strikes me as that different from the NBA which has been dominated in the last few years basically by the Warriors and whichever team LeBron is on.
  • La Liga / Serie A - Feels like the same big teams (Real/Barca and Juventus/Inter/AC) have dominated the last few decades, not just the last 10 years, though money may have entrenched which teams are haves and which teams are have nots. That said, Real, Barca, Juventus, and Inter are all in financially precarious situations, having spent somewhat irrationally, and it felt like the ESL idea would have perversely rewarded them for their profligacy by enshrining their current position with stronger revenue streams. I wonder whether it might be better for these teams to take the hit for overspending instead of acting like they are too big to fail?
  • Ligue 1 / Bundesliga - These are where I feel the differential between the top team (PSG / Bayern Munich) and the rest has really accelerated and is a major competitiveness issue. On the other hand, I've seen some interesting research that suggests that the acceleration for Bayern is partly the function of leveraging its success to spend more to keep and acquire players who in prior years would've left for other leagues, like Manuel Neuer and Thomas Mueller, so there's actually better product on the field. If Bayern was forced to cut its wage bill - would that risk increasing competitiveness by causing the Bundesliga to leak talent like it did back in the 1990s?
Also, while I agree that "no American sports league in the current era, or its fans, would put up with one team winning the title 10 years in a row while spending more money on salaries than its two closest competitors combined", I do wonder how much competitiveness really matters to European fans. It's always voiced as a concern, but any reduction in competitiveness doesn't seem to have translated into a reduction in domestic TV viewing or in game attendance
 

singaporesoxfan

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Absolutely. And this is also a powerful argument that likely resonates with at least some parts of the German public - if they embrace a salary cap or serious revenue sharing model, it might mean that no German club will ever be competitive for the CL again (assuming other countries do not embrace this kind of model). Hardcore BvB, Bayer, or RBL supporters might hate Bayern so much that they'd be happy to see them never win the CL again, but many more casual supporters are probably influenced by nationalistic sentiment and want to see German clubs competing at the highest level in Europe, even if its not their club of choice. Its hard to imagine a revenue sharing or luxury tax system that truly restricts the spending of big clubs and levels the playing field unless it is somehow implemented on a pan-European level by an entity like UEFA or....an ESL.
As a separate note, I would imagine a salary cap is likely not to be allowed under EU law and almost certainly going to be legally challenged by the players; any sort of ways to restrict spending of big clubs would likely have to be some sort of revenue sharing agreement.
 

dirtynine

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Don’t forget that champions of these leagues are crowned purely on the basis of standings via a balanced schedule. If there were playoffs for league titles (which I strongly dislike, don’t get me wrong) the “champions” would be more jumbled. Just like the Pats would probably have like 12 NFL titles in the 2000s if the league played a balanced schedule and crowned the first place team.

Point being that there are similar stretches of dominance in capped American leagues, but the playoff structure injects some chaos and creates more champions.
 
Don’t forget that champions of these leagues are crowned purely on the basis of standings via a balanced schedule. If there were playoffs for league titles (which I strongly dislike, don’t get me wrong) the “champions” would be more jumbled. Just like the Pats would probably have like 12 NFL titles in the 2000s if the league played a balanced schedule and crowned the first place team.

Point being that there are similar stretches of dominance in capped American leagues, but the playoff structure injects some chaos and creates more champions.
That's quite a good point and a reasonable argument, although I wonder whether or not the bolded is actually true vis-a-vis the NFL. (Hmmm...now I'm pondering an NFL in which the league expanded to 36 teams across two divisions with promotion and relegation between them, and in each 18-team division everyone played 8 home games, 8 away games and one neutral site game each year, and that was it.)
 
WorldFootball.net has a nice compilation of the winners of the top division for each of the leagues, so it's useful to look at:
  • England: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/eng-premier-league/ - tends to be periods of domination (the Manchester teams / Liverpool / Chelsea currently; Man U / Arsenal / Chelsea in the 2000s, Man U for much of the 1990s, Liverpool / Everton in the 1980s etc.) mixed with periods where the league was wide open (most recently that stretch in the early 1990s when 5 teams won in 6 seasons, but even that stretch counts the tail end of Liverpool's dominance and the start of Man U's rise)
  • France: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/fra-ligue-1/ - dominated recently by PSG and in the 2000s by OL. A really nice stretch in 1994-2001 where 7 teams won in 8 seasons. Before that lots of stretches of dominance by a team or two (Marseille before the scandal, Saint-Étienne, Monaco, Stade Reims etc.)
  • Germany: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/bundesliga/ - Pretty open until Bayern Munich won its second title in 1969, then it's basically been Munich vs the field (29 titles in 52 years)
  • Italy: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/ita-serie-a/ - as you noted, dominated by Juventus in the 2010s, and by Inter in the late 2000s. But eyeballing the history Serie A has always had long periods of dominance by a team or two and then occasional periods where the competition becomes wide open (e.g. the 1980s, where between 1983-1991 there were 7 champions in 9 years)
  • Spain: https://www.worldfootball.net/winner/esp-primera-division/ - as you noted, the least competitive league throughout - almost always Real Madrid and Barca dominated
So it seems that historically many leagues aren't actually *that* different in terms of domination - it may be that the natural state of things in any sports league is that there are always 2-3 teams that are great at any one time. I think what's changed may be the increasing influence of money as the cause of that domination - Man U dominating the EPL in the 1990s with a squad of successes from its academy (Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, the Neville brothers etc.) was aggravating to watch as a non-Man U fan but in fairness hard to complain about.
What you've indirectly touched on in this summary is I think one of the animating arguments against the proposed Super League: what we consider to be the "big clubs" at present haven't always been the big clubs in the past, and some of the clubs involved in the ESL seem quite brazen to be staking out a claim to permanent membership based solely on their current status and not their historical status. Chelsea and Manchester City were, frankly, pretty pedestrian on the pitch until petro-dollars transformed them. Tottenham...has become decent-to-good only recently. Atletico Madrid is good now, but how good were they 10 or 20 years ago? In contrast, 10 years ago Schalke was in a Champions League semifinal, and 20 years ago there was a semifinal between Valencia and Leeds United, with Leeds having defeated Deportivo La Coruna in the quarterfinals; three of those four clubs I just named have since been relegated from their respective domestic top divisions. Heck, even Manchester Freaking United played second-division football within my lifetime. Football is supposed to be more cyclical than the ESL clubs want it to be, or seem to think it is; the number of clubs can legitimately say that their floor is "still good enough to deserve a place in any Super League" is probably smaller than you think.

I've talked recently about how fans of small clubs want to believe that it is at least theoretically possible that they can ascend up the ladder and into the ranks of the elite...but I think it's also true that fans of small clubs want to believe that even the biggest clubs can potentially fall down the ladder into the ranks of the also-rans. Understandably, the big clubs do not want the latter to be possible - but I don't think they fully understand how important that possibility is to their current preeminence. Even the great, unassailable Bayern Munich has finished 3rd twice and 4th once in the Bundesliga this century. Since 1999/00, Real Madrid has finished 3rd four times, 4th once and 5th once in La Liga, while from 2000/01 to 2002/03, Barcelona finished 4th, 4th and 6th. And of course Manchester United has finished 7th, 4th, 5th, 6th, 2nd, 6th and 3rd in the Premiership since Alex Ferguson retired (and even finished 3rd three times in four years from 2001/02 to 2004/05 when he was still in charge). If these clubs literally never had seasons when the average not-fan of them could laugh at them and enjoy some schadenfreude at their expense, their leagues would be much darker places.
 

OCST

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Jan 10, 2004
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It feels to me that there are three different status quos (statuses quo?) in the big 5 leagues, each with different issues and therefore different options to fix them:
  • EPL - The use of oligarch money to rise to the top is ugly and I would like to see a system that emphasizes more academy development, but the actual effect of having 3-4 teams be competitive for the top spot may not actually be that different from what a system with more revenue sharing would produce, just that the latter system might reward different teams. Can't say that the end result strikes me as that different from the NBA which has been dominated in the last few years basically by the Warriors and whichever team LeBron is on.
  • La Liga / Serie A - Feels like the same big teams (Real/Barca and Juventus/Inter/AC) have dominated the last few decades, not just the last 10 years, though money may have entrenched which teams are haves and which teams are have nots. That said, Real, Barca, Juventus, and Inter are all in financially precarious situations, having spent somewhat irrationally, and it felt like the ESL idea would have perversely rewarded them for their profligacy by enshrining their current position with stronger revenue streams. I wonder whether it might be better for these teams to take the hit for overspending instead of acting like they are too big to fail?
  • Ligue 1 / Bundesliga - These are where I feel the differential between the top team (PSG / Bayern Munich) and the rest has really accelerated and is a major competitiveness issue. On the other hand, I've seen some interesting research that suggests that the acceleration for Bayern is partly the function of leveraging its success to spend more to keep and acquire players who in prior years would've left for other leagues, like Manuel Neuer and Thomas Mueller, so there's actually better product on the field. If Bayern was forced to cut its wage bill - would that risk increasing competitiveness by causing the Bundesliga to leak talent like it did back in the 1990s?
Also, while I agree that "no American sports league in the current era, or its fans, would put up with one team winning the title 10 years in a row while spending more money on salaries than its two closest competitors combined", I do wonder how much competitiveness really matters to European fans. It's always voiced as a concern, but any reduction in competitiveness doesn't seem to have translated into a reduction in domestic TV viewing or in game attendance
Not too far off from where the Yankees were for much of the 20th century.

Also Montreal in the NHL and Boston in the NBA, all prior to the leveling influence of shared media and merchandising revenue, drafts, and salary control.

Look at most college conferences too, haves and have nots over time .

NFL style parity may be the exception.