Euro League is more likely than Premier League 2 – EXCLUSIVE
This time it was Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani dusting off the arguments for a Premier League 2 as a means of bridging the gap between the top flight and the rest of English football.
You can understand Radrizzani’s frustration: Premier League clubs currently make up 14 of the top 30 wealthiest on the planet.
Figures released in June showed that top-flight revenues had soared to £4.5bn during the course of the 2016/17 season.
Compare that with the £720m combined revenues reported by 23 out of 24 Championship clubs for the same period and it’s clear that the gap between the best and the rest has never been as pronounced.
But while the likes of Leeds, Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday ponder how they’ll ever be able to compete on level terms with the Manchester Uniteds of this world, those at the top of the game across Europe could well be plotting how to open that gap further rather than close it.
The prospect of a European Super League has been mooted at various points over the past 20 years and, although the logistics of such a competition are mired in difficulties, there’s no doubt that, as leagues across Europe get less and less competitive, the moneyed elite could look elsewhere for their kicks.
In Italy, Juventus have won Serie A for the past seven seasons. Atletico Madrid are the only side besides Barcelona and Real Madrid to have won La Liga since 2003/04, while in Germany Bayern Munich have won six Bundesliga titles in succession.
It’s a similar story in France with money bags PSG cleaning up five times in the past six years. With so little domestic competition, is it beyond the realms of possibility that Europe’s big guns might soon be training their fire power elsewhere?
“A lot of Europe’s league are making signals,” says Simon Chadwick, professor of sports enterprise at Salford University. “La Liga recently talked about taking regular season matches to the USA, for example.
“The big project in football is that fans and clubs break out of the parameters that they’ve been used to.
“Any European Premier League would be hugely controversial but the rewards would be absolutely immense.
“If it was Liverpool, for example, and they were owned by a local garage owner then he would say, ‘Hang on a minute, this club is really important to local people and we can’t let this happen’.
“But, of course, Liverpool and Manchester United aren’t owned by locals, they’re owned by billionaires who don’t have that sentiment or those historic links. They’re in football to make money. For me, that’s the end game.”
Arsene Wenger feels a European Super League is “inevitable”, with domestic matches moved to midweek to accommodate glamour games at the weekend.
A report in Spanish newspaper Marca last year claimed that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and PSG were all massively in favour of a European top flight.
And although the Champions League is hugely lucrative, the $1.57bn in global television deals is a fraction of the $4.95bn deals enjoyed by NFL franchises in the USA alone.
Whether the rights for a European Super League would get close to that is anyone’s guess. But there’s a growing feeling that Europe’s elite wouldn’t mind finding out.