DS Insider: US-style European Super League could only be five years away
This week’s Digital Sport Insider podcast saw Dan McLaren sit down with Romily Broad to chat about the big issues facing football in the digital world.
Perhaps the most pressing point is something that’s come up in the news again – the spectre of the European Super League, often presented as the inevitable dystopian landing of the capitalistic wave engulfing football at the moment. In reality, it may well be the only logical outcome for an analogue sport in a digital world.
The tone of the podcast presents the digital problems facing football as something that many clubs may struggle to overcome as a younger demographic seem more interested in other things. A US sports set-up where a set number of franchises compete every season against each other in a league with no promotion or relegation could be as little as five years away, Broad predicts.
“They’re quite different, but actually five years down the line, maybe they won’t be that different,” he says.
“If you chart the challenges that are facing every football club now – particularly from a digital point of view, because most of those challenges can be encompassed in that digital sphere – if you take those to their natural conclusion, and clubs don’t invest and change as they need to, even five to ten years down the line, the clubs that survive will be either top six and maybe the other big boys across Europe who do go and set up a super league of their own in which relegation doesn’t factor in. And suddenly, actually we’ve got exactly the same set up as the MLS.”
“Ultimately, when you’ve got football competing with esports and Hashtag United and every kid everywhere is streaming movie content or watching League of Legends over the air on their devices in glorious 4K because they now can from wherever they want and suddenly the idea of going to a dirty old football stadium on a Tuesday night just isn’t compelling enough to compete with this.”
This week, Arsene Wenger broached this topic, too. He predicts that a European Super League is inevitable, and that it will ultimately force Premier League games into midweek slots, as the new shiny product takes weekend times for their big-name matches.
The idea, it would seem, is that it is easier to find a weekend time which suits markets in Asia and the US as well as in Europe for the biggest games. The Champions League already suffers with this, but when people aren’t at work, it makes things easier.
Ultimately, football appears to be coming to a decision point when it comes to digital transformation. We’ll soon see how it deals with the problems that presents.
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