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How the European Super League Should have been Structured

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Since the current proposal is clearly a terrible idea, here’s what it could have been.

45th Ordinary UEFA Congress Photo by Richard Juilliart - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

This idea is by no means perfect, and I welcome criticism and suggestions for improvement in the comments. Honestly, the notion came to me while making a protein shake for lunch, so it may be terrible. But let’s assume for a second that a Super League is actually needed (not that it is, but just for the sake of argument). How could a European Super League work within the current football structure while giving everyone a chance to be improved by it?

Who Competes

In this version of a European Super League, the teams are selected from the semi-finalists of the three current UEFA competitions. The Champions League, the Europa League, and the Conference League set to start next year. Twelve teams, regardless of national affiliation, get invited, and if someone declines (because of the extra burden of matches or whatever may be) you go with the next highest rated team in the UEFA coefficient.

If you qualify for the Super League, and then the next season you win the Super League but fail to qualify for it again, congratulations, here’s your trophy, but too bad you won’t be in it next year.

For women’s football, go with the final 8 of the Champions League and the next four clubs in the coefficients. That makes their competition a bit more top heavy, but even the most successful women’s sides as things stand right now need a larger platform for their game.

The structure of the competition

Each team plays a home and away schedule with everyone else in the competition. Twenty-two matches. Yes, that’s a ton of extra matches. The benefit is that it will make it very difficult to qualify for the Super League in back to back years, meaning a higher number of clubs will get the chance to play in the Super League and thereby get a payout.

How you split the money

50% of the revenue from the Super League gets split amongst the 12 clubs based on what competition they qualified from. Each Champions League qualifier gets 15% of the original 50, each Europa League qualifier gets 10%, each Conference qualifier gets 5%. Each team keeps their own matchday revenue.

If the smaller clubs getting less money bothers you, I get that. But for this to have even the slightest real word application you have to have carrots built into the process to lure the largest clubs. Here it is.

The rest of the revenue gets split among the UEFA member associations represented in the Super League, for the purposes of grassroots and football infrastructure. That results in each association getting 4% of the overall monetary cut. In the (likely) even that certain associations have multiple teams involved, the extra money is given to UEFA for the development of grassroots football in the smaller associations not represented.

Problems

The main issue I see here is one related to how taxing it will be on the players. I’ve seen just this season how a strong Europa run, fighting for top five in La Liga, and having a go in the Copa Del Rey has worn out the Villarreal roster. One way to combat this, I think, would be to put overall minutes restrictions on players. We can make that number fairly high, say 3600 minutes per player (40 total 90 minute games) over the course of a season and we can keep the 5 sub rules implemented during the COVID 19 crisis to help managers keep their players rested. This will also encourage clubs in the Super League (many of whom have some of the world’s best academies) to play more young academy products in matches, which is also good for player development.

I’m certain that there are those among you who see all kinds of problems, holes, and questions that I haven’t thought of, and I welcome the discussion. I also think that this proposal is better than what we’ve been given by Florentino Perez and company, though I assume my four year old could give me something more cogent than this mess they’ve done.