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Abandoning the Champions League? Galatasaray chairman claims new competition will arise involving top teams

Oct 10, 2013, 1:12 PM EST

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So long, parity. So long, little club. So long, Cinderella story.

According to Galatasaray chairman Unal Aysal, a “European Super League” could exist as soon as 5 years from now involving the top teams from across Europe.

“I think it is the future of football” Aysal said at the Leaders Sport Summit in west London Thursday. “It has to be created, not after 10 years but as soon as possible.”

The completely radical idea would essentially replace the Champions League, and would appear – as Aysal describes it – as another league-based system, complete with relegation.

“I think it could be 20 big teams, for example, in Europe, with the last three, four or five teams can change every year. I think it can be operated in a proper way in order to make it effective and useful to European football and also to bring new horizons in football.”

Would clubs like Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, or Juventus go for such a change?

“Football is a big industry, a growing industry” argues Aysal, “and a European super league will bring a lot of support and also energize football in general. It’s not yet totally elaborated and prepared and put on the paper. But it is a concept that is under discussion for a few years. It is not a new concept, but we favor it.

“The first 15-20 big clubs of Europe all agree with this – nobody will say no. Manchester United, Paris St Germain, Real Madrid. There may be one or two exceptions for local reasons, political reasons, and I will understand, but as the future for European clubs and the future of football, nobody can say no to this. Every reality starts with a dream. At the moment, it looks like a dream, a vision. I am sure, sooner or later, in a maximum of five years’ time, it will be a reality.”

That’s a very, very bold statement by the Turkish club. It’s also a statement that has already been disputed by Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli.  “I do not think the time has come,” Agnelli said. “We are part of a system that works, and we are proud of being part of that system.”

So will the top clubs support it like Aysal claims? That’s something worth watching, but also something that would appear doubtful at this moment.

  1. scooteroco - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Think this idea would pick up a massive amount of steam when they officially announce WC 2022 to the winter months. Teams could essentially leave FIFA and UEFA behind and remove the possibility of call ups taking away players/revenues during a season.

    • konmtu - Oct 11, 2013 at 6:31 AM

      I don’t think FIFPro would allow any league to block players from national team call-ups. If they don’t, they should realize that the World Cup, WCQ’s, and other such tournaments and matches is the way to grow the sport. People who have never watched a game before are not all of a sudden going to watch a match between two pro teams regardless of their respective levels without some kind of vested interest.

      I imagine most people who are new to the sport are like me. I watched the US start to have more and more success and decided to try to watch my favorite players from the USMNT on their pro teams. That exposed me to watching the BPL to try to catch Fulham games with Clint Dempsey. One thing led to another and now I’m watching regularly.

      You can argue that you don’t have to pick a side to watch soccer, but even neutrals who watch games usually have some kind of interest in a given game. As a Liverpool fan, I like to watch a game with ManU, City, Arsenal, etc. and root for them to lose so that it helps the Reds’ cause. I’d also still watch other teams with USMNT players like Stoke and Sunderland, just too see how Cameron and Jozy are doing.

      Anyway, the point is, people won’t watch a league just because the best pro teams or best players are in it. They need some kind of attachment to a team or player to draw them in.

  2. billobrienschindimple - Oct 10, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    My question is does this guy see Galatasaray as one of Europe’s 15-20 biggest clubs, because I certainly don’t.

    I can think of 6 EPL teams that are bigger. Barca and Madrid. Dortmund and Munchen. PSG, Lyon and Monaco. Ajax. Juve, Roma, and both Milans. There are a whole host of clubs that could make an argument for the last few places, but I can’t safely say I’d be hard pressed to place Galatasaray as a top 20 European club.

    • schlom - Oct 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM

      And how many teams would want to visit Galatasaray (or Fenerbahce) every single season?

  3. leonidas64 - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    if there is enough money involved then the big clubs will go for it

  4. dfstell - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    In concept….I love it. I’d rather a slow weekend for Manchester United be to play Juventus rather than them playing Sunderland. The best teams playing the best teams. What’s not to like?

    In reality, I’m not sure how you’d do it. Some of these super teams would be mid-table and/or relegated. Would Juventus rather be winning Serie A or being 13th in the Super League? Part of the beauty of Champion’s League is that it doesn’t really PROOVE who is the best. All the elite teams that get beat too soon always have the excuses that are inherent in tournaments: bad draw, bad result, small sample size, flukey plays…… Would any of these teams like to really prove that they are actually NOT in the Top 5 teams in the world? How would their supporters adapt to seeing Galatasaray in a relegation battle every year?

  5. timrice68 - Oct 10, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    It’ll never work b/c fans will be hard pressed to go to away matches. The time and expense involved would be ridiculous. Imagine a week night match b/t Liverpool & Galatasaray. Or even a weekend match. Prohibitively expensive.

  6. gregalthoff - Oct 10, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    I think college conference realignment is a good template for what’s to come. The mighty will join forces to maximize the amount of TV revenue they receive. They will form a supergroup just like the Big Ten or SEC.

    Also, I would expect that relegation wouldn’t be part of the equation. The point is to form a cartel and freeze out the little guys from TV riches. Think NFL.

    Relegation is awesome, but it has no place in the modern sports business world where billionaires aren’t looking to end up playing Milton Keyes in two years.

    • takethelongview - Oct 10, 2013 at 10:17 PM

      I quite agree. I think the NFL reference explains the financial motive and the college football conference shuffling is a good metaphor describing how the league will coalesce with some clubs and not others. And if one were starting a new league from scratch, one would never design relegation into the business plan. Amazed no one has tried that already….oh wait.

      Although, of course, this wouldnt quite be from scratch. The clubs exist. Their stadia exist.* And the tradition of relegation exists. MLS had none of those to contend with. To get the national federations/UEFA to capitulate on such a SuperLeague (and it will not happen within 5 years without their blessings), acceptance of relegation may be a necessary political compromise.

      *–Although the absence of relegation in the architecture of MLS derives from multiple factors, the sheer start-up expenses are the chief reason–and a stadium is the most expensive of start-up costs. No one would invest if relegation were practiced here. That becomes an issue in this proposed SuperLeague only if an Emirates-style facility is required for entry. (I.e., sleek, modern, and NFL-huge.

  7. mantitebow - Oct 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    I like the idea of the best of the best play each other every week.

    one problem, you could have a team, say Juventes, avoid relegation every year and stay in the league while Inter is stuck in Serie A.

    I would like to see the bottom 10 teams relegated.

    If you are a fan in Munich, you would get a chance to see Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, Ibrah, Bolatelli and other star players every year.

    The amount of money just the television rights would generate would dwarf any other sporting league out there.

  8. charliej11 - Oct 11, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    The money is killing soccer. First Barca with a GD of +100 playing useless game after useless game. Now this.

    Thinking outloud, does this make soccer better in Europe. It might. Watching Barca with a +100 GD is really killing what could be a real league.

    Or does it go the other way, no one cares now that the talent is playing in the top league and everything else in Europe is minor league ?

    I see how someone thinks this happens in five years, because money is killing soccer, but quite frankly, they are drawing huge numbers in Germany still, where there is still a little bit of parity left. Are those great teams joining up. I doubt it, so now where does that leave them ?

    • gra42 - Oct 12, 2013 at 10:42 PM

      One thing to think about: Barca’s +100 GD is about financial disparity as much as anything else. I think a new Super League with restricted television money will only make this worse. But then that’s the point, getting more and sharing less. I also think that the “great teams” will lobby the hardest to make this happen when they think about the money at stake, if indeed they haven’t begun already.

  9. gra42 - Oct 12, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    Sadly, to the TV stations, team owners, FIFA, and the agents for the players involved, it isn’t and will never be about the quality of the game.

  10. footballer4ever - Oct 13, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    A Super Football League or ESFL (European Super Football League) is not only an idea, but it will eventually become a realiy There will always be people in favor or against such idea with quite valid points. Every sports business decision is mosty made with money in mind, but any decion made by money only then it’s likely to fail. Football, a world-wide sport that is lived//loved/played and watched by millions/billions around the world will prefer to watch the best duke it out among each other on a weekly basis. The Champions League is just a pre-amble to a SuperLeague and the immense popularity that CL has gained vs an EPL/LaLiga/Serie A or any domestic football league will always be a priority among fans. Creating a Super League does not necessarily mean any domestic league should cease to exists completely, but it sure will require to lower the amount of domestic football matches in order for the main SuperLeague matches to be played on Saturdays and Sundays unlike CL or Europa League matches that are played on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursdays and some people don’t have the luxury watch because of time difference.

    A Super League ran with equal revenue sharing system, a necessary salary cap and a 3-5 year “relegation” system among other serious fair-level rules will ensure that there’s more than fairplay on the field. This will be required to a move on from a fragmentisized football leagues into an unified European continental football league and who knows, possibly become an intercontinental or WorldWide football League. That could only become a reality, if and only FIFA cleanses themselves from their controlling /corrupted ways or if such SuperLeague is independent from FIFA completely.

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