The idea of a European Premier League, a kind of bouncing competition for the biggest teams, has been discussed for a long time, but the can has always been kicked down a bit.
Less than a week after Project Big Picture was blown up, we have another great plan that will certainly cause a stir.
Liverpool is said to be one of six English clubs flirting with the idea of creating a European Premier League.
However, reports suggest that Wall Street banking giant JP Morgan is holding talks about £4.6 billion in debt financing to get the idea off the ground, with other private equity firms, such as Spanish finance house Key Capital Partners and American firm Providence Equity Partners, also expected to be involved.
The Reds have declined to comment since the story surfaced, as the club has regularly seen their name linked to similar proposed “outbreaks” in the past.
Sky News revealed, however, that the plan appears to be back on the agenda of the Big Six of English football, with Liverpool joining the idea along with Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
The idea behind the 18-team format, which FIFA is allegedly helping to develop, is for the top teams to participate in a knockout tournament with potential prize money in the hundreds of millions.
From a purely business point of view, this would be a real money-spinner for the Big Six and the other European giants likely to be under discussion, clubs such as Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid – whose president Florentino Perez is said to be involved in the plans.
The TV revenues would, as always, come into play on a large scale, a chance for the bigger clubs to get a bigger piece of the pie, which was denied when Project Big Picture was awarded the boot.
As the relationship between the big clubs and traditional domestic cup competitions such as the Carabao Cup and FA Cup is becoming increasingly fragile with the clogging of schedules, adding more matches hardly seems the right move, although if it were to bear fruit it would only serve to further dilute the traditional competition.
The money would flow in, but at what cost? Is this really what the fans want? Is this a step too far?
And this is where the risk must come into play against the reward, if the Liverpool owners FSG are really interested.
The news of the plans was answered on Jamie Carragher’s Twitter with a simple but effective “oh f**k off”, while many fans of the Reds expressed their displeasure about a planned participation.
A European competition such as the one proposed would undoubtedly appeal to a global market, even if it met with UEFA’s resistance if it were to dilute the Champions League in any way, which, as you can imagine, would be collateral damage if these proposals were pushed and implemented.
Liverpool raised just over £100 million from the Champions League win in 2019 – 18% of total operating revenue for that season, Tottenham around £10 million less than the £90 million, 19% of its own operating revenue for the 2018/19 season.
The Champions League itself faces a season that has been described as “unpredictable”.
Matchday revenue is a boon to the clubs through the rounds, but given that six of the 15 countries represented in the group stage this year will not allow fans to enter the stadiums, including England, this is hitting their pockets hard.
Perhaps more significant, at least in terms of revenue, is the fact that corporate sponsors are nervous about their long-standing contracts with the competition, and if the Champions League has to close in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, will they demand refunds for their money? It would be the clubs that would pay such a bill.
The revenues come from the Champions League prize fund and from the lucrative broadcasting rights, which depend on the size of the television markets in the country of the respective club and its UEFA coefficient.