Good morning, everyone.
As I usually do, I’m actually writing this on Sunday night, and let me just say what an absolutely bonkers day it’s been. Earlier this morning, we covered the bombshell story that 12 of Europe’s most affluent football clubs are planning on abandoning the UEFA Champions League, choosing instead to form an independent tournament called the European Super League.
While the initial reports were mere rumors, the story became official in the evening hours, when all the clubs involved released official statements formalizing their intent to create the ESL.
There’s “Working-class” Liverpool:
Leading European football clubs announce new Super League competition.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 18, 2021
Arsenal “9th place in the league, dropped points to Fulham” FC:
We are one of 12 Founding Clubs of the European Super League— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 18, 2021
Tottenham “Eliminated from the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb” Hotspur:
I could go on, but you get my point. The announcement has sent shockwaves through the footballing world. If the change does indeed go through, it would change the sport as we know it. A small clique of 15 elite clubs would be handed a permanent financial advantage, while every other club across at least five leagues, likely more, would be left to fight for the remaining five spots.
The 12 clubs involved have gotten tons of pushback, including from UEFA, as we covered earlier. Now, it isn’t just footballing organizations, but governments themselves that are getting involved. According to Politico, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned the decision.
Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 18, 2021
They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country. (1/2)
So the $64,000 question is of course, whether or not Borussia Dortmund will be one of those 15 clubs. As of my writing this (around 10 pm EST), the club has not released any official statement on the subject, nor have we heard any informal statements from Hans-Joachim Watzke or any members of the Board of Directors.
It’s worth noting that about a month ago, in an interview with Ruhr Nachrichten, Watzke criticized the idea of a European Super League, saying, “I will never support a competition to which there is no open access. A closed society like in the American NFL, NHL or NBA, that’s not our football - and in my opinion it can’t be either.” Whether Watzke actually plans on following through on his word remains to be seen. According to Sky Sports, the 15 founding members will receive a staggering initial capital investment of €3.5 billion from the international broadcasting conglomerate DAZN, with additional financing from the American investment bank JPMorgan Chase. I can’t confirm how this sum will be divided among the 15 members.
The point is that any slice of money in the territory of nine figures will be very hard for Watzke to turn down. The club in a spot of financial distress due to the COVID pandemic, and is set to lose more if they fail to qualify for the Champions League this season (which may not even matter in end). It may be hard for Watzke to turn down the money.
If there are any more serious developments, we’ll be sure to let you know.
I’m now writing this at 7:00 AM EST. Borussia Dortmund have released a statement standing by their commitment to the Champions League new format, tacitly rejecting the notion of joining the European Super League. BVB CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke joined a conference call with other members of the European Club Association to vote on the new format.
“This decision means that the clubs want to implement the planned reform of the UEFA Champions League. It was the clear opinion of the members of the ECA board that the plans to found a Super League were rejected.“
It was not exactly a strongly-worded rejection, and definitely leaves wiggle room for Watkze to change his mind, but for now BVB fans should take it as a good sign that the club hasn’t given in just yet. But definitely don’t pop any champagne bottles over this statement.
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If Watzke does pull the trigger and joins the Super League, would you still support Borussia Dortmund?