Is a European Super League something football fans really want? - Johnny Cantor

Albion fans pictured at the Amex. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Albion fans pictured at the Amex. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Survival. 40 points. Higher place than last year. Results against the top six sides.  Everyone has different targets for the season but what about the long-term future of the Premier League and football in general in this country?

According to Der Spiegel some top clubs across Europe including the top five (not six!) in this country have discussed a European Super League, with allegations that they have discussed the possibility of leaving their national league and football associations completely.

If it is true and were to happen, what would it mean for clubs like Brighton and Hove Albion? This week on Albion Unlimited on BBC Sussex, football finance expert and Seagulls fan Kieran Maguire told the podcast he felt the chance of it happening was ‘remote’.

In some ways you can understand the bigger sides wanting more revenue. They feel they prop up TV audiences and to a certain extent they are probably right. However, one of the pleasures in the last decade of the Premier League is that most sides can give the big guns a run for their money.

This may be changing. Following Leicester City’s remarkable achievement the larger clubs have pushed on in terms of investment to preserve their status. Manchester City lead the way on the pitch and upsets have been less frequent last season and this.

However, when it comes to the Champions League many fans seem unwilling to go to the Etihad. Will supporters have the appetite for regular games against European sides home and away? Some fans love a trip from Leamington Spa to Lisbon or from Stevenage to Stockholm every so often but every week?

Some owners and TV companies, or TV viewers for that matter, may not care but one of the quintessential ingredients of a match is the atmosphere. I know, I know, non-league football does not have thousands of fans but it has its own ambiance and charm. Large, half empty stadia don’t.

If it came to fruition there would be less money for clubs such as Brighton, Bournemouth or Burnley. There may not be any more trips to Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge.

Ultimately though many fans just want to watch their team, watch them work hard, watch them entertain and watch them win.

This weekend the Seagulls head to Cardiff City in what has been a Championship feature for the last 14 league clashes. It still has appeal. It will probably be close. It will probably have goals. I don’t think there can be any doubt that the gap between the haves and have nots has become bigger.

The issues for grassroots football and the state of facilities and pitches persist. It needs investment but supporters still want to watch their side, whatever the level. Will Premier League fans want to head to Europe regularly? Will they travel to the USA or China in the future?

The cost would be prohibitive for most fans here in the UK but followers around the world might be able to watch more games. That does have some benefits and would allow access to more people across the globe but as Kieran said this week, ‘as an Albion fan all I want to do is watch my team’, that means whoever they are playing, wherever they are playing, be it Cardiff or Catalonia.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger
To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit www.johnnycantor.com
Albion Unlimited podcast is available to download via BBC iPlayer & iTunes

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