How would a European Super-League work?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the idea, a ‘European Super-League’ is a proposed alternative to the current UEFA Champions League. Instead of grouping top European teams into an elimination tournament, Europe’s finest would instead form a “super league” where top teams from each league would compete against each other on a weekly basis throughout the course of the season.
Mirroring the standard domestic league format, the team with the most points at the end of the season would win the league. The bottom three or perhaps four teams would be relegated.
While several other managers and numerous sports journalists have discussed the idea for the past several years, I’ve not yet seen anyone develop the framework for such a league. With this thought in mind, here’s my idea for how the European Super League would work.
Entirely replacing the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super League would initially feature the top three clubs from the English Premier League (EPL), the Bundesliga and Serie A and the top two teams from La Liga and Ligue 1. One club from each of Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Ukraine and Russia would combine for five more members, and an additional two vacancies would be awarded to two clubs from smaller leagues which advanced through a qualification process.
Altogether, the league would feature 20 member teams which would play every opponent twice (home and away) for a total of 38 games. In order to avoid forcing players to the point of physical exhaustion or requiring clubs to build a full-strength second team, clubs would not compete in their domestic leagues while playing in the UEFA Super League. However, all member clubs would continue competing in their domestic cup competitions.
At the end of the season, the club with the most points would be crowned the UEFA Champion and the bottom four teams would be relegated to their domestic leagues.
At the domestic leagues level, since top clubs could no longer qualify for the Champions League, they would instead qualify for the Europa League where the four semi-finalists would replace the four relegated sides in the following season’s UEFA Super League.
In order to ensure sides relegated from the Super League would have the opportunity to earn immediate promotion the following season, they would be awarded automatic Europa League qualification.
While many of you probably consider this suggestion utterly preposterous, I encourage you to at least consider the idea.
Firstly, the plan would shrink the huge talent gap between top teams and their typical opponents. So, instead of Manchester United facing Newcastle, Stoke and Sunderland in a random three-week period of the season, they could instead face the likes of Porto, Juventus and Ajax.
Sure, we might miss out on some exciting two-leg series, but I would much rather watch the Red Devils play an entire season of meaningful contests than wait until the Champions League quarter-finals for them to feature against a world-class opponent.
Opponents argue that while strengthening the competition at the highest levels, such an exclusive league would destroy domestic competition. Conversely, I suspect the UEFA Super League would have the exact opposite effect on competition.
For example, with English Premier League sides Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal likely to spend most seasons in the Super League, teams such as Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle and Everton would have a legitimate chance of actually winning the league.
With a top-three finish promising a place in the Europa League and an eventual shot at cracking into the Super League, the fans of mid-table teams throughout Europe could actually get excited about their club’s future prospects.
Furthermore, domestic cup competitions would become increasingly intense. With Super League teams not regularly facing domestic competition, they would be eager to prove their worth by winning a domestic championship.
Realising a unique opportunity to compete against the top clubs in the country, emergent league sides, perhaps vying to complete a domestic double, would be intensely motivated to shock their supposedly superior opponent.