This is how Boris can stop the European Super League

As everyone has pointed out, the European Super League is just idiotic. The meritocracy of football will be broken if this competition is born.

The idea a club can come from the lower leagues, qualify for the Champions League, and then win it is at the heart of why we love football. This proposal kills that dream.

I would use Manchester City as an example, as they won Division 2 in 1999 (now known as League One), then went on to win Division 1 (now known as the Championship) the following year and ultimately went on to win the Premier League in 2012. I would use them but they are yet to win the Champions League, and now it seems they never will.

The European Super League case would be stronger if the rebel teams were dominant, but they are not; it just the richest clubs looking to become richer.

When the European Super League was announced, fifty per cent of those ‘top six English teams’ were outside of the top six spots in the Premier League. The two finalists of last year Champions League are not even included in the competition.

This new trophy will be dull; once the novelty has worn off. After all, who wants to watch 12 clubs play each other, particularly if these clubs are expelled from their national leagues.

The Premier League is the most competitive competition in the world because of the drama. Multiple teams can win it, qualify for Europe or go down. Each of the 38 weeks of football has a story, be it what the points mean or a local darby or the rivalry.

This is why the Premier League has far higher viewing figures than any other league in the world and larger figures than that of the Champions League. 3.2 billion people watched Premier League during the 2018/19 campaign. In the same season, only 1.3 billion people watched the Champions League.

As it stands, not only will the European Super League clubs will be booted out of the Premier League, the players will be barred from playing international football.

International football drives a lot of growth and viewership in the game. The last Football World Cup final was watched by 3.5 billion; to put that in perspective, last years Champions League final was watched by 13 million viewers globally (the record for a Champions League final was in 2013 at 21.6 million).

The European Super League needs their players playing international football more than Football World Cup needs European Super League players.

But, let's forget the pros and cons of the European Super League. This is bigger than the business or even the on-field merits or otherwise of the league. This is about who owns the sport of football. The uber-rich or the fans.

Politicians know this. That is why both the Tories and Labour have committed to stopping the English clubs from joining the European Super League. The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden even said the Government will do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop it.

Even Prince William has released a statement against the European Super League. There’s now a cross-party political and public mandate to stop the English clubs from joining it. This means that Primary legislation is on the table, and we can avoid lengthy court battles.

What is Primary legislation?

In short, primary legislation when a law is passed as an Act of Parliament. It is debated and passed by both the House of Commons, the House of Lords and is stamped for approval by the Queen. Due to the Sovereignty of Parliament, when the law passes, then that’s it; you can not challenge laws made by primary legislation in the Courts.

How can Primary legislation be used to stop the European Super League

Well, there are a few examples. The Government can write a law that bans British clubs from joining the European Super League. Now, like with tax, expensive lawyers will find loopholes.

The nuclear option would be for the Government to nationalise the clubs or do what they did during the 2008 Financial Crises with Banks — buy out the owners.

This can be a short term option. The Government can take ownership of the clubs then releases control to more palatable owners, including a percentage to the fans.

Now I don’t think we need to go down this route, and if we did, it could damage British sport and business (not just football) forever. It really would be the scorched earth tactic.

Now the best option would be a Football Governance Act.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden

In this act, you could have a compulsory boardroom representation of fans, very much like Theresa May’s plan to put workers in the boardroom in her 2016 manifesto.

You could also legislate that a panel of experts advise ministers on matters of football governance. The Culture Secretary already does this when it comes to art.

A panel of experts advises Oliver Dowden whether objects that have been sold to overseas buyers should be “saved” for the nation. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest has the power to place bars on such treasures. A football equivalent can rule on football governance and who can own a football club.

Now, neither of the above ideas would work in practice or address the other football issues.

The thing is, Football is a mess. The European Super League is just the boiling point for many fans.

For example, only last week, a Slavia player was issued a 10-match Uefa ban for racial abuse of Glen Kamara. That’s two weeks less than what Uefa gave Kieran Trippier for telling his friend he would be moving to Spain to play for Atletico Madrid.

Of course, we have seen corruption at FIFA with Sepp Blatter and the Qatar World Cup, but we have seen it closer to home as well. Fans are fed up with the way owners use teams as investment vehicles, or as we see so often in the lower leagues, clubs being bought only to have all their assets stripped and the land sold off for development.

This could be the catalyst for change — a chance for fundamental reform in football governance. Oliver Dowden may not realise this, but his worlds today not only signalled the challenge to the European Super League and started the reform of the relationship between the profiters of the sport and the fans.

The most effective way to do this is to introduce an FCA/PRA type of sports regulators. If a Football Governance Act gave a Football Conduct Authority real power. The power to strip ownerships, issues fines and have the oversight of FA, SFA, FAW, IFA, all the leagues, the TV deals, ticket prices and the grassroots game, then we will see the transformation of the sport.

Just imagine if fans could bring cases to a Football Conduct Authority against owners, the ‘FCA’ could fine or even bar bad owners from being directors. Just imagine if a Football Conduct Authority could rule on TV deals or who can buy a club in the same way the CMA regulates acquisitions and mergers. It could hold the FA to account for the way it deals with racism, child sexual abuse or concussion. It can stop clubs from joining the European Super League.

With the political will of both the Conservatives and Labour, a Football Conduct Authority can be up and running within weeks, in time to rule on the European Super League. This is how Boris can stop it.

Boris will be judged on the doorstep if he kept his word to do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop the European Super League and how he uses this once in a generation chance to reform the relationship between the nation and its sport.

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