Who are ya? Super League D.O.A.
Sometimes the world moves so fast that you can’t blink without missing something. Such was the case today as the European Super League, which we wrote about yesterday, unravelled almost as quickly as it was created.
It was remarkable and, if you’re open to learning from it, informative.
But, first a quick breakdown of the day’s events:
As Europe awoke today, the 12 clubs involved were all very much still making plans to forge ahead, despite resistance from fans, officials and politicians. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who has been the front man in this, was even telling Spanish media that the Super League was going to “save football.”
Despite his words, fans weren’t having it. The noise was growing to a fever pitch on Social Media and, even more importantly, fans were taking to the streets.
As the day progressed, a crowd grew outside Chelsea’s stadium. As the only team among the 12 playing today, it proved to be a focal point for the world. The protest grew in size until it was able to prevent the Chelsea team bus from entering the stadium.
A former club legend, Petr Čech, had to wade into the crowd to beg protesters to let the bus in.
At that point it was basically all over, save the writing of the apology press release. In short order, both Chelsea and Manchester City had pulled out from the group, while players on Liverpool made a statement basically telling their own owners to stuff it.
As of writing, the Super League isn’t officially dead, but it’s dead.
But, what does it all mean?
From a football perspective it means that the status quo remains for now – although there may yet be retaliation coming for the 12 teams that started things. The key turn of phrase there is, “for now.” The richest clubs may have been slapped down today, but they are still rich, and they still want to see changes.
Expect them to keep that pressure up.
From a sports business perspective, there might be a change in how these clubs operate. It’s fair to suggest that they did not expect the visceral and angry reaction that the announcement had.
The pushback was even felt in the market, where the only publicly traded club, Manchester United (NYSE: MANU), seeing a more than 6% drop on the day from $17.47 USD to $16.22.
The thing about that stock is it’s emotionally traded. A football club doesn’t have particularly great financials to attract investors, Rather, fans of the club buy the stock out of loyalty to it. Wins and losses drive the price as much as profits and losses. So, that drop is very likely fans showing their displeasure.
They felt betrayed by the choice to go into the Super League against their wishes. The clubs didn’t really care because, for years, it’s been felt that the fans could be taken for granted. Their addiction to their clubs was too great to shake.
That can’t be the feeling now. It turned out that there is a line and that if you cross it you end up putting your business at risk.
Let’s not be naïve here though. This is a temporary victory for the little guy. Money is still going to rule the day.
But, maybe now the clubs will at least have to listen to the people that make them meaningful.