World News: The Economics of Privatizing Professional Sports

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The announced creation of a European football Super League competing with the Champions League is shaking up a UEFA hostage of the excessive professionalization of football which has become a part of the world economy.

Presented on April 18 by twelve European clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, ​​Atlético Madrid, Juventus de Turin, Inter Milan and AC Milan ) the project to create a football Super League, a declared competitor in the Champions League, dear to the UEFA (European Union Football Association), shook the footballing microcosm of the Old Continent, trembling at the idea of ​​seeing the competition European sportswoman counting among the most followed and most lucrative dethroned by an organization with purely financial aim (lemonde.fr: )


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Since the announcement, the cries of fowl have been constantly speaking out against an initiative that, a few years ago, had already been approached in the form of aG14 (a group that included among the 14 major clubs at the time), only to be finally abandoned.

But the advanced Super League project, which would also allow a few hand-picked clubs to enjoy guest status to play alongside the founding clubs, now seems so well underway that the European institutions seem to be struggling to thwart it. surely. But once the observation and indignation, which will have only a time, that this initiative arouses, has passed, the question that emerges today is not why such an initiative is to be born but when it will see the light of day.

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To the first question, the answer that is required seems to be almost childish. The exponential inflation of audiovisual rights, the amount of player transfers and the budgets of clubs (otherwise dangerously indebted) not to mention the ancillary revenues linked to the sale of derivatives, explain this desire of the biggest and most powerful European clubs to create a play area where sport is only a financial support.


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Having become a part of the world economy, football does not escape the economic rules to the point of having to diversify in order to ensure its long-term sustainability especially in times of health crisis, the effects of which have had an impact on the cash flow of clubs. Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus Turin and the Association of European Clubs (ECA), recently pointed out that the health crisis could result in a shortfall of 6.5 billion to 8.5 billion euros for clubs.

Enough reason to devise solutions to limit the financial hemorrhage resulting from the pandemic. The reasoning held by the twelve clubs concerned is thus the simplest: A Super League hosted by world-renowned clubs (The Real Madrid matches are followed in China or elsewhere) will generate television interest, popular, public and also sporting since the best players in the world evolve in the clubs concerned.

Deficits and Legal Time

At the same time, this Super League, a way to wipe out abysmal deficits (in 2016, the cumulative amount of outstanding's of the 20 largest European clubs amounted to 133 billion euros) is also an act of independence on the part of clubs too cramped in a UEFA (with a budget amounting in 2019 to 5.7 billion euros) considered archaic, and still too resistant to the idea of a total football business. (sportune.fr: )

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And from there to UEFA taking the aspects of a charity dedicated to the defense of clubs excluded from the upcoming Super League, there is only one step. UEFA, which has worked for decades to develop the most unbridled professionalism, has therefore failed to find the arguments, caught in its own trap, to contain the secessionist desires of the great European stables. It remains to be seen when this Super League will be born.

It is now all about legal time and legal recourse, but it is very likely that the project will succeed unless UEFA reformed the Champions League in order to retain only secessionist clubs, which would exclude other forms.

European countries at the risk of new litigation. Cornelius... For the time being, both sides are observing each other and tossing each other, certainly waiting for the gesture of either side.

But one thing is certain, it has less to do with the players than with revenue and depleted world economies. In short, European football leagues are big business and one that European leaders see as necessary to boost national economies post Covid.


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For more information see the recent coverage appearing in the French daily LeMonde here and the French sports dedicated publication Sportune, here.

 

 

Bio: Olivier Longhi an opinion columnist for Haute-Lifestyle.com, has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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