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FIFA/UEFA/Domestic leagues already come out and said they will kick out the teams involved from domestic competitions and players possibly banned from national teams if they proceed with it.

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5 minutes ago, Sirloin said:

FIFA/UEFA/Domestic leagues already come out and said they will kick out the teams involved from domestic competitions and players possibly banned from national teams if they proceed with it.

 

UEFA don't have the balls - Infantino et al are there to follow the money.

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Hmm, so the story of a super league 'leaks' a couple of days before the final vote on the new Champions League structure, where the big clubs still want a bigger say in how it's run going forward.

 

What coincidental timing. 

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Yep nobody including fans of the clubs involved wants to see a closed shop in European football.  I can see that it would make shit tons of money for the selected clubs in the Far East and US, but if the cost is destroying the domestic game then it is simply a non starter.

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Gotters has nailed it. Threaten a breakway, strengthen their hand for the inevitable CL revamp, pretend the whole thing is a compromise.

 

I'd fucking love it if FIFA and UEFA had any balls. The individual leagues would, because they don't stand to gain from a breakaway system, but it's clear the clubs involved don't care about a domestic league. 

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I hate this idea of a European super league.  I doubt it will actually happen though.  Perhaps it's political, an attempt to get more power or a bigger slice of the PL/CL money.  Either way, shame on those clubs.

 

Two things that amuse me though - how much Sky are panicking about the possible destruction of their cash cow; and the inclusion of Arsenal.  What the hell are they doing considering themselves part of the European football elite?  :lol:

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1 minute ago, feltmonkey said:

 the inclusion of Arsenal.  What the hell are they doing considering themselves part of the European football elite?  :lol:

 

Guess they will need a wooden spoon team.  A bit like Italy in the 6 Nations.:lol:

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Ive gotta be honest, i do find it funny that the premier league, a league formed by clubs breaking away as they wanted more money, are not happy that some teams are threatening to break away...as they want more money :lol:

 

And c'mon, its not gonna happen. It woudl end up like MLS europe!?

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1 hour ago, Sirloin said:

FIFA/UEFA/Domestic leagues already come out and said they will kick out the teams involved from domestic competitions and players possibly banned from national teams if they proceed with it.

Is banning players from national teams a deterrent? I'd always seen it the other way and that clubs threatening not to release players for international duty would be one of the ways they'd eventually get approval for some sort of Euro League. 

 

 

I'm curious to see just what the clubs are planning to announce. To be clear though I'm not in favour of a super league. 

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1 hour ago, the_debaser said:

I understand the guaranteed money is attractive but I think the clubs have completely misread the room. Most fans will hate the idea of a super league. 

 

They'll still pony up for it though, and that's all that matters.

 

Sincerely,

 

Not one penny since 2005.

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It's a shocking state of affairs and I would happily walk away from being a Liverpool fan if this went ahead, because any notion of clubs caring about fans will be beyond a joke. 

 

Shame on all the clubs involved, I've lost massive respect for FSG as owners today. 

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What's being proposed, or at least the details that are out there, doesn't sound all that interesting. It feels like it needs to be bigger/more aggressive if they want to get customers on board. There has to be some sort of gimmick beyond "well, it'll make us richer". That's what worries me right now, the idea the clubs involved have some sort of ace up their sleeve to change people's mind even if it's something as simple as it being cheaper to watch this than the Champions League. 

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9 hours ago, Gotters said:

Good Athletic piece about the upcoming transfer window in Europe, and a mention of how Palace could have gone from a seemingly bad situation with lots of expiring contracts to a a surprisingly good one.

 

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“I have no idea who is saying there’s loads of money. My feeling is there is no money. We are having to choose between quality and quantity, maybe one or two transfers, maximum. We are looking at a lot of loan deals but also our goal is not to try and sell players because we are looking at a devalued market. It is not a market where you want to sell your assets.”

That senior director at a Premier League club is outlining what to expect when the window reopens for business this summer and, to illustrate his point, talking about operating with a transfer budget that is a quarter of what they spent last year. Elsewhere, there are suggestions that some Premier League clubs are “skint”.

Understandably, there will be people who view that kind of narrative with a mixture of suspicion and cynicism because of what happened six months ago, when the summer transfer window closed on the back of a £1.3 billion spending spree that suggested the Premier League was operating in a bubble, oblivious to the financial ramifications of the global pandemic everywhere else.

In January, however, there was a reset. There were only 24 Premier League transfers in total, compared to an average of 46 across the previous three winter windows. Transfer spending in the English top flight fell from £230 million in January 2020 to £70 million 12 months later. According to data gathered by Deloitte, gross expenditure in January across the other four big European leagues (Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A) plunged from a collective €660 million to €195 million.

Will the bottom fall out of the summer transfer market too? Could two or three mega deals get the wheels turning in England and the rest of Europe? Are Premier League clubs bluffing when they say that there is no money to spend? Or are agents trying to build confidence when they claim plenty of moves will still happen? Could one of the biggest winners be a club in the bottom half of the Premier League?

To try to answer those questions and build a wider understanding of what the summer window will look like, The Athletic has spoken to senior figures across several Premier League and European clubs, as well as leading agents at home and overseas, and the sports business group at Deloitte.

Amid all the debate and predictions that follow, there is one thing that everyone agrees on: this is unquestionably a buyer’s market.

“The market needs — and what I think will happen — one or two big ones to move,” says one experienced director who works in England. “Manchester United to do Erling Haaland at £100 million, for example, which then gets Dortmund into the market. That’s a deal that never happened in January to get the market going, whereas I can’t see that not happening this summer.

“If you look at Chelsea, they have Thomas Tuchel, I think they will believe he is the man to win them the Premier League again. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they go and spend money — (Roman) Abramovich has got it. Man United, if they finish second, they are going to have to add to the squad and have got financial power. Everton seem to have money to go and do one or two.

“So eventually money will start to come back into the ecosystem, which will lead to a busier transfer market. But what I think you will see less of — as opposed to two years ago — West Ham buy a player for £15 million who is a bit of a punt. I don’t think they’ll do that. It will be clubs buying one or two players who will improve their starting XIs, or they won’t do anything.”

Strikers often make the money go round in a transfer window and that promises to be the case more than ever this summer. “If (Kylian) Mbappe goes to Madrid, Haaland goes to City, do PSG then buy (Harry) Kane? Then the whole thing moves again. It needs something like that,” says a leading agent. “Yes, some of the money will be held back to clear debts. But you know what it’s like, once one spends, they all spend.”

United, Chelsea and Manchester City, contrary to what Pep Guardiola has hinted at publicly, are all in the market for a No 9. Haaland is fully expected to leave Dortmund for a fee well over £100 million, and one of the top agents in the game says that a depressed transfer market will be no barrier to that kind of move happening.

“Are we still going to have big deals? Of course,” he adds. “Haaland will have a market. The top, top, top player will always have a market and the clubs will always find a way to get the funds for a deal. But on the rest, just before the top, either average, average-plus, less than average, for me, it’s just going to be a market where it’s about swaps, loans, obligations to buy.”

The same agent talks about how “everybody is trying to find creative solutions”, which essentially means coming up with ways of paying less for more. That is why Danny Ings, with 12 months remaining on his contract at Southampton, has been considered by City.

Players who are in a similar contractual position to Ings but younger — for example, Odsonne Edouard, the 23-year-old Celtic forward who is being pursued by a host of Premier League clubs — are the signings of choice right now because of the financial numbers involved in that kind of deal allied to the talent.

Ings, not Haaland? The Southampton striker has been considered by City

“That is the No 1 market that everyone is fishing in, 18-to-23-year-olds, with one year left on their contract,” adds another agent. “They (clubs) go on Transfermarkt, ‘Who’s got one year to go and is decent?’. Because the clubs will get young players who aren’t on good wages, and they’re buying a player at a discount (because of their contract), and they’ll make money in three years.”

Dan Jones, who is the head of Deloitte’s sports business group, says the expectation is that, unlike last year, it will be a “much quieter summer” in England and not just the rest of Europe. He cites crowds returning as something that will give Premier League clubs more confidence but also points out that by the time the new season starts, in August, revenue will have been significantly hit for between 12-18 months.

“We’ll see a lot of creativity around loan deals,” says Jones. “People won’t want to be carrying players on the books who they aren’t going to use, so they’ll try and get that player out somewhere else. And equally for the recipient clubs, if that means that they can pick someone up on slightly better terms and don’t have to pay a transfer fee, then that makes sense, Jesse Lingard being the most high-profile example. There have been some stunning loan successes and that encourages people again to think that might be a viable option.”

That view is echoed by clubs and agents. One of the Premier League’s top-six clubs is already targeting the loan market for several positions, sensing that financially overstretched overseas teams will be more willing than ever before to allow high-calibre players to leave for a season to ease the burden on their wage bill.

We are also likely to see an increase in domestic loan deals. An agent talks about a Premier League midfielder who is currently on the fringes at his club and would command a £20 million transfer fee in normal circumstances. In this market, he admits that the player can expect a season-long loan and nothing more than that.

The bottom line is that COVID-19 has not only hit clubs hard financially — Brighton, Southampton, Everton, West Ham, Spurs and Leicester have all posted losses over £60 million — but owners too. “The common story is that owners’ businesses have lost money and had a bad year,” adds the director who spoke at the start. “I don’t think any of them are in the pharmaceutical industry.”

The Premier League TV deal at least offers the English clubs some protection from the storm. Overseas, it is generally a different story and that means that, in the dog-eat-dog world of football, there are opportunities to be had for those who are in position to take advantage. It is only the middle of April but one experienced transfer operator at club level in England says that teams in several of Europe’s top leagues are already in the “desperation stage”.

“It’s not, ‘Ooh, we could probably do with selling one’. It’s, ‘Fuck me, we have to sell one’. At that point it’s where you start trying to do deals,” he says. “We are noticing it already with clubs we’re tentatively talking to about players. You can sense the desperation. Normally it would be a game of poker now. ‘No, no, no, don’t need to sell’. They are much more, ‘OK, do you think you can do the deal quickly? Maybe the price will be better earlier?’. They obviously need money for cash flow. And they are worried the market might not recover.”

One Premier League club who made an overseas signing in January were left amazed by the terms that were accepted — everything was loaded in their favour, with very little required in the way of negotiation because of the pressing need at the other end to bring in money.

There is good reason to believe that plenty of similar deals can be struck this summer in Germany, Spain, France and Italy. Top-flight players who would ordinarily have been beyond the reach of some of the lesser lights in the Premier League, largely because of the finances involved, are now firmly on their radar.

“We would never have got anywhere near (some of these players before),” adds one source. “The clubs they’re at would say, ‘We want £15 million’, whereas now it’s five. The player would have gone, ‘I want £80 grand a week’, whereas now it’s 40’. That’s what we’re seeing in the market.”

Curiously, and by good fortune rather than design, Crystal Palace have a golden opportunity to upgrade their squad this summer and tie that in with the appointment of a new manager if, as expected, Roy Hodgson stands down at the end of the season. There are 12 players out of contract at Selhurst Park — many of them in the twilight of their career and earning high salaries — meaning that Palace could make that money go a long way with some savvy recruitment in an undervalued market.

“There will be good money spent this summer, but the biggest problem is that clubs need to offload to buy,” says one agent. “But someone like Crystal Palace, who have decided to let a load go, are in the most incredible position in a buyers’ market.”

France is viewed as a country that is ripe to exploit because of the TV rights crisis that has engulfed the game there, deepening the financial problems caused by the pandemic and leaving a lot of clubs, who were already highly dependent on player sales in normal times, in a parlous position. Clubs that usually needed to sell one or two players to cover a €10-15 million annual shortfall are now trying to fill a €45-50 million blackhole.

“France is definitely the league that has got the toughest financial challenge,” adds Jones. “They’re the smallest one of the big five anyway, they’re the only ones who didn’t manage to finish their 19-20 season, and they’ve had the Mediapro TV deal fall over, and France has always been an export market. So all sorts of factors are conspiring to see France as a place where a lot of people will be having a look.”

A senior source at a leading French club paints a bleak picture. “As we speak now, we still do not know who is going to broadcast the games for the next three seasons,” he explains.

“The last piece of the puzzle is that the financial regulatory body for French first- and second-division clubs (Direction Nationale du Controle de Gestion — DNCG) is taking a very hard stance on club finances. They sent a letter to all the clubs two weeks ago stating very clearly they want the books to be balanced during the summer, otherwise, they will ask the owner of a club to put a deposit down to ensure that any club beginning the season is going to end the season. There is, therefore, a hugely pressing need for most French clubs to sell players this summer.

“The problem is ‘Who will be the buyers?’. Last summer, the volume and value of sales reduced by 50 per cent, and in the January window, it decreased by more than 70 per cent. There is a lot of anxiety related to that. From where we stand, we believe there is still going to be a market for top players where there will be competition to drive prices up. But the question mark is over the middle- to lower-range players, and our problem is that there will be a lot of bargain sales and prices will go down.”

Spain has plenty of problems too, starting with Barcelona and Real Madrid, who are both in a mountain of debt. There is a school of thought that their financial plight means that some of the biggest names in the Premier League — Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Paul Pogba — are essentially trapped. “Normally it is the moment for the biggest transfer of their career but instead they have to re-sign,” adds one senior Premier League club director.

Salah has appeared to flirt with other clubs but they are unlikely to have the means to sign him (Getty Images)

It is certainly difficult to see how those Spanish clubs could be serious players in the transfer window this summer and also leaves you wondering why Mino Raiola, Haaland’s agent, and Alfe-Inge, the player’s father, went to Barcelona recently.

“Sometimes it is political,” adds the same source. “They are trying to get the money from companies to fund the transfer and staging something like that, with the agent and dad on the ground, can help bring the funding. But the interest on these loans (with companies) is incredible — up to 10 per cent. This is the idea.”

Elsewhere in La Liga, the forecast is gloomy. “Last summer we were hit by €100 million and lost 50 per cent of our income,” says Anil Murthy, the Valencia president. “Your wage bill does not disappear (as the income drops) unless you sell players or loan them out. We decided in the summer to bite the bullet and say, ‘Look, let’s try and get through the year by reducing our spending’. We will further reduce spending again next season but with much more flexibility than we had in the summer because we took a big decision last summer to take the hit. We now have to take a smaller decision this summer.

“What will the market be like? I am not as optimistic as you as to how markets are going to recover. Clubs have been hit very badly by COVID-19, not only in Spain but even in England, as well as Italy and France. Television rights have been renegotiated in many places. Many Spanish clubs depend very heavily on TV income for their operations. I don’t think this summer will be any better than last summer — in fact, I predict this summer will be even more difficult. Those who have money have already spent it and no new money has come in.”

There is no getting away from the fact that there is still plenty of concern among English clubs when it comes to COVID-19 and the return of supporters. One highly-respected director talks about “massive uncertainty” because “we are still getting information from the league about no guarantee of crowds at the start of next season”.

“You have always the doubt, too, that the vaccination programme could stop working, or a new variant arises, or the government messes up again, so then you have another lockdown and more lost earnings,” adds another source at a Premier League club.

The impact of COVID-19 on transfers shines through in other ways too, starting with the actual process behind signing players. “Leading up to a transfer it’s hard anyway. But it’s completely thrown us out of sync with our jobs,” says one senior Premier League source who is heavily involved in recruitment.

“Say, for example, we’re coming to the window, February, March, April, May, you’re spending all your time travelling, meeting before games, meeting after games, watching games, meeting with the agents, meeting with players, meeting with people at clubs. You’re getting all this market intelligence. It’s not the same by Zoom. It’s not. It’s completely changed everyone’s way of working.”

A corollary of that is that recruitment staff are “nervous” about recommending players with the same sort of conviction as usual. “Put it this way: you’ve got to put your balls on the line with the manager and you’ve got to put your balls on the line with the owner as well. And you just don’t feel you’ve been able to do your job properly in the last 12 months. If we’re going to sign a player, you watch 20 videos but then go out and do the final confirmation live, meet the player and have all the conversations. That’s exactly what happens every single window. But that’s been cut off completely.”

Brexit is something else that clubs and agents are still trying to get their head around. One deal that was lined up with an established Premier League club this summer has had to be abandoned because the player would not have had the requisite points to qualify for a work permit.

A senior figure at another Premier League club says that he is fascinated to see how Norwich City and Brentford, who have been so smart with their recruitment in the past, adjust to a post-Brexit world. Brentford have already admitted their model will need to change — they have applied the new Brexit points system to all the players they have recruited in recent times and realised that few would be allowed now. “Even Neal Maupay and Said Benrahma, who are Premier League players today (would not have qualified),” Rasmus Ankersen, Brentford’s co-director, said last month.

That will lead to a bigger emphasis on UK recruitment — something that didn’t work out too badly for Brentford with the signing of Ivan Toney from Peterborough United last summer. Little money was spent across the rest of the Championship, however, and that downward trend will continue.

“The Championship is finished,” says one agent, dismissively. “There are no transfer fees, the wages are coming down, the foreign players can’t come in — the quality will be a disaster. The teams coming down will come straight back up every time.”

Some Premier League clubs will be reining things in too, especially those under Chinese ownership. It is understood that money is particularly tight at Southampton, who will need to decide whether they cash in on Ings, and at Wolves, to an extent.

Inter Milan also have Chinese owners and, in the words of one leading agent, “the knock-on effect of a big club owing money to United, to other Italian clubs, to players, to agents has a massive reverberation around the market”. Interestingly, several sources — agents and club directors — predict that Romelu Lukaku, the Inter Milan striker, will return to the Premier League next season.

The fact that the European Championship takes place at the beginning of the summer adds another layer of intrigue to a transfer window that is so hard to read. “I think it will be a bleak summer,” adds a sporting director who has worked across Europe. “But I also think that this will be the window of opportunity.”

 

 

50 quid says we don't bother and re-sign Benteke on double money

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Cba with a manufactured league. Pretty much takes out the whole point and enjoyment of competitions. Imagine being out of the running for the title. Then what? No top 4 fight, no other European spots, no relegation battles, how boring. Count me the fuck out if this goes ahead.

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The changes they are planning to make to the CL to try and head this off also sound pretty shite tbh.  
 

They are desperate to introduce an American style franchise system into the game, and UK + European fans just don’t want to buy into that.

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2 minutes ago, Waggo said:

The changes they are planning to make to the CL to try and head this off also sound pretty shite tbh.  
 

They are desperate to introduce an American style franchise system into the game, and UK + European fans just don’t want to buy into that.

Well they presumably don't want to copy the franchise model too closely. I can't see them bringing in a draft system for instance. 

I hope this goes ahead just to see what happens. I'd hope to see it being a catastrophic failure like the XFL. 

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59 minutes ago, Gabe said:

Shame on all the clubs involved, I've lost massive respect for FSG as owners today. 


Are you really surprised though? FSG are a bunch of billionaires who tried to trademark the name of the city of Liverpool so they could keep it in the portfolio of a company based in an American tax haven.  

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5 minutes ago, Stoppy2000 said:

Well they presumably don't want to copy the franchise model too closely. I can't see them bringing in a draft system for instance. 

 

 
Who knows, as with no promotion or relegation you need something to generate interest.

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The big clubs don’t give the faintest shit about the fans, and I suspect neither would the leadership of many smaller clubs if they were somehow given the chance to be a big club. The game is barely worthy of anyone’s time or effort at this point despite the amazing skills on display - we’re all surplus to requirements and the sooner we realise it, the better. Remember that the alternative to this Super League is a newly awful and expanded Champions League from the delightful folk at UEFA, and of course, we all know about FIFA and their dedication to fairness and transparency. So they’re all shocking, every single one of them. Remember how much we have to pay to even watch football these days. If fans vote with their feet eventually to be out of this madness, good fucking riddance to the people running the game. Maybe this scorched earth Super League is actually what’s required to finally annihilate this tortured sport, and then some better souls can restart it from the ground up.

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1 hour ago, Gabe said:

It's a shocking state of affairs and I would happily walk away from being a Liverpool fan if this went ahead, because any notion of clubs caring about fans will be beyond a joke. 

 

Shame on all the clubs involved, I've lost massive respect for FSG as owners today. 

On the pitch we would probably be rubbish mid table bottom half most years, Id rather beat Norwich 4-0 and be around top 5 every year tbh

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4 minutes ago, Waggo said:

 
Who knows, as with no promotion or relegation you need something to generate interest.

A draft system would potentially mean a more level playing field. The richest clubs (even within the super league) would still want to stay on top. Be interesting to see how it plays out though. 

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I can understand the Bundislga clubs now being in favour of it due to the 51% rule but I'm surprised PSG haven't signed up for it. When PSG are the godo guys you know you've fucked up somewhere along the line. 

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