Revenge & Super Leagues: You’ve Got To Be In It To Win It

Revenge is a dish which most definitely is best served cold. And with the chefs on holiday, that’s all there is to eat on Arsenal’s menu. Lucas Torreira got himself a permanent place in the Arsenal starting line-up when he took out Neymar Jr. The Brazilian rolled so often that it’s a surprise he didn’t end up jumping off the cliff with Butch and Sundance.

Somewhere Unai Emery watched and rubbed his hands together while thinking “Don’t mess with the best ‘cos I don’t like it!”

Meanwhile, Mesut Özil found a moment of schadenfreude after the summer. Did he text Uli Hoeneß? He ought; “Oi, you fat tax evader! Where’s your precious Bayern now? Germany never got relegated on my watch!”

I shouldn’t laugh but Germany getting relegated before England is funny. You know England are going to drop into the B section. Defeat or a score draw sends them down. In typically England fashion, we’ll be 2 – 0 up at one point before a brain-fart in the last minute gives Croatia an equaliser.

Just sayin’.

Football Leaks continue to damn Premier League clubs with leaked documents, this time over youth players. Chelsea are going to have a two-window ban for the Christensen payments but City are going the same way as well paying six figures for a player they subsequently released.

I’ll stick my neck out here: I won’t be surprised if Arsenal is one of the five English clubs being investigated by FIFA. If everyone else is ‘at it’, let’s be honest, we’d be pretty disappointed if all we were left to rely on was Freddie Ljungberg and Per Mertesacker are bloody nice blokes.

It Was Coffee And A Danish – So What?

It’s the nature of football and while we want the club to be purer than the driven snow, success doesn’t come to nice guys. Or not sustained success, anyway. That’s a fairly cynical view of football but that’s the way it is.

Take the report in the Guardian this morning. The Dynamic Duo responded to reports of Arsenal’s involvement in the setting up of a Super League. Raul Sanllehi said:

There is one document that has been presented in an article that has Arsenal’s name; it also has Barcelona’s name. But there’s no signature and I can assure you in Arsenal and Barcelona we have not seen the document.

Going back to the original reporting, you sense Raul is being a bit disingenuous here. The only signature on there could so easily have been his in March 2016. At that point still a Barcelona director, he was nominated by the elite clubs as a negotiator with UEFA over a bigger slice of the cake while knowing the “revolution” of a Super League was being discussed by a “secret society”. Football’s Illuminati, if you like.

Raul has been rather more involved than he’s ‘fessing up to which rather ruins the ‘Ivan did it’ defence although you get the feeling it’s coming. “I was at Barcelona at that time, Ivan Gazidis was there too,” Sanllehi noted.

There’s no surprise the conversations take place but I’m not convinced the appetite for a Super League exists, certainly not at the expense of national leagues. Arsenal want their feet in both camps according to Vinai Venkatesham:

Arsenal aren’t or never have been interested in playing in any competition that weakens the Premier League

That noise is the polygraph needle pushing down so hard on the paper that it’s ripping it before exploding.

Can You Survive Disillusionment?

He carried on undeterred:

The Premier League is the world’s leading league in the leading sport; we don’t want to do anything to damage it. I see these articles that Arsenal want to break away – we never want to do any of that. But we also have to recognise we have to be in these conversations or we wouldn’t be responsible. We have to be in the conversations – it doesn’t necessarily mean we support them.

Is that the same argument you’re using for the Scudamore bonus?

Raul denied the imminent arrival of a Super League, probably sensing the way the wind is blowing between fans and clubs right now:

I don’t think there’s going to be a revolution in the near future — definitely not. “We know the competition we have here in England: it is extremely exciting, extremely competitive and it is something we will value, always.

And here’s the thing with the Super League. Initially, it will have some excitement. The sense of self-entitlement from the clubs at being recognised as the biggest in the world will make the matches an event. On paper, there won’t be a stinker of a fixture anywhere. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern all coming to town? Initially, there will be a buzz but I give it three years with no relegation, nothing to fight for; no cups, just a Super League. Boredom will set in hard and fast.

Because in this time, we’ll still watch Match of the Day. Disillusioned fans will move to lower league clubs and support their local team. Worse still, be lost to football and for most children, it’s their parents and older relatives who drive their interest in the game.

As much as they stand to make more money from broadcasters, it’s not hard to envisage attendances falling.

A Fitting Legacy

The TV audience may not noticeably drop; global kick-offs was the alarming phrase from the Football Leaks report. Welcome to Arsenal vs Barcelona, at the Emirates. This 1.30am kick-off is brought to you by the European Super League. Warning: No fans are allowed at this game due to licencing laws so we are soundtracking the 1979 FA Cup and Copa Del Rey crowd noise as a background.

Raul, you and your mates might have the appetite for a Super League and feel it’s the league to end all leagues but honestly, it isn’t. A midweek league instead of the current set-up is the least worst option but if you want real excitement to draw the fans back in, dump group stages and seeding. Go for a knockout competition and don’t worry about anything.

The Champions Cup was doing fine as a fan spectacle but your ilk had to ruin it. The first casualty was the Cup Winner’s Cup but it won’t be the last. This is the Champions League legacy: the death of competition. The numbing of football.

Way to go.

’til Tomorrow.

14 thoughts on “Revenge & Super Leagues: You’ve Got To Be In It To Win It

  1. Excellent stuff Yogi. Straight knockout would revive everyone’s interest.

    I do love that Germany are getting relegated. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of guys who hung out Ozil to dry or to a nicer country. Alternativ fur Deutschland? Yes, Group B will be!

  2. Is it possible to refer to Vinai as Alfred? Otherwise a grey cloud descends on the moment…
    Cos I don’t like it! Love it.

  3. In full agreement. Promotion and relegation, or I’m just not interested. I understand why the clubs might want to protect their elite status but, in the long term, it won’t even serve their self-interest to do so.

  4. The no promotion / relegation thing is based on the US way of doing things I suppose. Given that they have a different system altogether, I can’t for the life of me see how it would successfully work in a framework that works like the leagues anywhere else.
    The Champions League itself is suffering from viewers apathy as it is, with plummeting figures, why would the Super League be any different? Also with a 16 club league, what else is there to play for, other than league win itself….They presumably are looking at ways they can get their bread buttered both sides, before they go ahead.

  5. There are two problems (at least in my mind) that are eroding the competitiveness and therein the appeal of football;

    The Premier League – it is arguably two teams too large, which impacts on player fitness, polarises success to the larger and better squads and is too safe. By that I mean that relegation out of and promotion in to is only a limited risk/opportunity and creates mid-table “nothing to play for” games towards the end of each season. Have 3 down/3 up and playoffs between PL 16th v Championship 5th and PL 17th v C 4th. Keeps more teams on their toes for longer.

    Secondly, UEFA killed European club competitions with the abomination that is the extended Champions league. Too many games, far too much dross and pointless games all of which completely kills off all other Euro comps from the late Cup Winners Cup to the Europa league. This is easily fixed, but UEFA don’t want to do it…. that’s why the Super League is being discussed. Just like the FL ignored calls to revise the old Div 1. In my view, the Champions League could be either a straight knock out or a midweek league, but should only comprise the actual domestic league winners. Small and elite. No ifs, no buts, win your league and your in, if not tough. PSG would love it. No second, third or even fourth. All those “non champions” teams then go into a refresher Europa league, which would have games (and groups if retained) that include the likes of Barcelona, Dortmund, Liverpool, Napoli, Inter, Roma, Monaco, Athletico etc who are currently in the CL. That would make both comps competitive and worthy of our interest and money.

    It won’t happen though. We have more chance of Scudamore donating his £5m bonus to children in need, while riding a unicorn over a rainbow.

  6. Even as a supporter of Brasil, the Gooner in me shone brighter and I found myself jumping and fist pumping ad Torriera decided he was going to tackle any and everything in sight, then pull off a 2 picture perfect tackles in the box. And then when I thought, ‘futbol couldn’t get any better’, I found myself laughing hysterically as Germany get relegated with an attack that makes Cardiff look like Barca when they were at their best.

  7. One of the great attractions of the EPL is the rivalries; the key being that they are of long-standing, having a neighbouring/regional, sometimes cultural, basis. That can’t be replicated with other countries’ teams. These rivalries are at the heart of all divisions/leagues in Britain and, I suspect, other countries.
    If this rumoured structure occurs, you can (as Samuel Goldwyn once said), “include me out”.

  8. Have to say, Ox saying that Gooners didn’t support him during his times out injuried and we put pressure on him is quite absurd. From everything I have seen both here and in person, there was nothing but support and people wanting him to sign a new contract.

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