European Super League: does the punishment fit the crime?

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The big six Premier League teams and their logos. Created May13,2020

The hits to the teams that joined the European Super League continue to come. This morning the English Premier League announced that the six teams that attempted to form the breakaway league would receive fines totaling over $31 million between the clubs. The six clubs receiving fines are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham.

This marks the first official set of fines from a league to the clubs that attempted to form the breakaway Super League. The penalty comes in the form of “contributions” that will “go towards the good of the game.” The European Super League announcement arrived in early April with the six teams listed above and six other teams from across Europe’s major five leagues joining as the founding members. Within 48 hours of its announcement, all but three teams had withdrawn.

This new fine marks the second overall penalty charged to the clubs. The Super League board themselves also fined the Premier League teams. After signing three-year commitment deals, the owners of each club will pay withdrawal fees in the coming months.

What stops this from happening again?

End of 2020-2021 Soccer Season

The “contributions” were not the only action taken against the European Super League founding members. The FA decided additional fines and sanctions needed assessing if the teams attempt to form a splinter league again. Each organization involved would pay a fine of over $35 million. The clubs would also take 30 point deductions to their standings in the league that following season.

The point deduction is the most significant part of this. Had the league docked those thirty points from this season, Leicester City would win the Premier League, West Ham, Leeds United, and Everton would occupy the remaining Champions League spots. Arsenal and Tottenham would have been only three and four points clear of relegation, respectively. The winner of the league, Manchester City, would make the Europa League spot by only one point.

These punishments should act as a safeguard against the teams attempting to make the same mistake again. The loss in revenue that a thirty-point deduction could have far outweighs the fines the teams would receive. If the Super League saga taught the footballing world anything, it’s that these owners care about one thing and one thing only: money.

Was the punishment enough?

The European Super League threatened to change everything that hundreds of millions of soccer fans worldwide hold dear. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport by a margin so significant it’s not even worth discussing. Fans feel a connection to their clubs that surpasses even some familial bonds. So when the clubs threatened to leave and practically abandon their domestic leagues for a league they controlled and could never suffer relegation from, fans were not just upset. Fans were heartbroken and angry.

Fans protested and made their voices heard. Manchester United fans even stormed Old Trafford and forcing the postponement of a game between them and Liverpool. The significance of which cannot be overstated as the fixture between those two teams holds more meaning and history than just about any other.

I have two different thoughts on each punishment. The six clubs in question got off-light this time around. $31 million split between these six clubs is mere pennies to them. These owners do not have the same concept of monetary value that just about anyone else in the world has. This fine acts as a blow to their egos more than anything, which will surely reflate within the coming days.

Going forward

Dec 1, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke (left) with chief operating officer Kevin Demoff against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret many fans want these owners out of our leagues. Rumors have swirled that the Glazers with Manchester United and Stan Kroenke with Arsenal will actively pursue sales of their clubs. However, hoping these men remove themselves from the game is unrealistic. These clubs generate ungodly amounts of money for them; they could never justify it to themselves unless someone paid a ridiculous amount of money.

Fans can at least relax a little with the announcement of these punishments. Teams cannot afford to risk losing as much revenue as they would should a docking of thirty points be levied. It seems the FA nailed half of this decision on the head. The supporters must hope the owners care enough about the game to not abandon the domestic leagues altogether.

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