When the board of the European Clubs Association met five years ago, the chief executives of the Premier League’s top clubs found themselves being grilled about a Super League.
It was nothing new. The topic had already become a regular joust between English clubs who were about to cash in on a new £5.14billion TV deal and the rest who looked on jealousy from the other side of the Channel.
The answer was the same as it had always been.
As one man who was in the room in Florence in December 2015 put it: “It would have been like killing the goose that laid the golden egg.”
Nothing to do with tradition, you see. It was all about the bottom line.
These hushed entreaties by Real Madrid, Juventus and the like were all off the record, of course, nothing was noted down in the official minutes.
Because that’s how the big decisions, the ones that are going to be met with universal outrage, are made.
Over a well-aged brandy, with a nudge here and a wink there – until the rest of us are given the news when the whole thing is already a fait accompli.
Nothing was doing back then – but once again the possibility of a European Super League is being mooted.
And after the outrage sparked by the revelation of Project Big Picture, you can be sure that the news JP Morgan is putting together a £4.64billion package to finance the whole thing has only been leaked to get us used to the idea.
The coronavirus crisis may have left the world fighting for health and prosperity.
But it has provided the perfect opportunity for so-called super clubs to press ahead with a plan that has been somewhere near the top of their agenda for years.
And now, it seems, the heads of England’s elite have also been turned.
It is unlikely that the Premier League will ever have it so good when it comes to negotiating TV deals.
Sky is already getting a £170million rebate, while a deal worth £564million with Chinese TV has been cancelled.
And the decision to charge fans £14.95 to watch some games reeks of desperation.
Pay-per-view on platforms like Amazon may offer a solution to the quandary of how clubs are going to improve on the terms of the current TV deal, which runs out in 2022.
Manchester United v Liverpool will always draw in subscriber numbers measured in tens of millions.
But the reluctance to reveal how many viewers paid to watch Burnley’s goalless draw with West Brom on Monday suggests there will be a huge imbalance.
Project Big Picture illustrated that the top clubs want more influence as well as the huge sums of money that would have been generated by having the freedom to screen eight PPV games of their choice each season.
That demand isn’t going to subside any time soon because greed never gets fed.
United’s latest financial figures now reveal that their debts have risen by 133 percent to almost £475million.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been forced to sign a 33-year-old striker on a free transfer despite taking the club back into the Champions League and even Old Trafford is falling to bits.
But you can be sure the Glazer family will still get their fill.
What better way to insulate yourself from failure by joining a league based on the American model?
There’s no relegation in the NFL, NBA or MLB. Membership is by invitation only.
But what’s the point of football if it’s a game you cannot lose?