Football in 2025: memories from the future

Written on 11 June 2020, 03:47pm

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The longer Project Restart is delayed over relegation, the more reasons Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and the rest have to listen to the weird fantasies of the European Super League fanatics. Andrea Agnelli and his fellow European Club Association extremists thus far have been thankfully ignored but in a pandemic-era Premier League enmeshed in arguments over relegation, even that option starts to look attractive.

Sam Wallace, The Telegraph, 30 May 2020

16 August 2025. The fourth season of the European Super League kicks off with the following 3 fixtures:
11:45 CET (18:45 Tokio/Seoul) Bayern Munchen – Manchester United
17:00 CET (20:00 Doha/Riyadh) Real Madrid – FC Barcelona
23:45 CET (18:45 Rio/Buenos Aires) AC Milan – Liverpool.

The Super League counts 17 permanent super-clubs and 3 invited clubs. A 20-teams league ensures 380 fixtures per season and was inspired by the now-defunct Premier League, along with the August-May calendar and with the overcrowded winter festive period (with minimum 4 staggered games per day between December 24th and January 2nd).

The 17 super-clubs are:
Man. United, Man. City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla
Juventus, Milano, Inter
Bayern Munchen, Borussia Dortmund

None of the 17 super-clubs can relegate from the Super League. There is however the possibility of exclusion from the Super League if the FFP (Financial Flair Play) clause is not respected.
This clause forces the super-clubs to align to a high-expense operating mode. Tottenham Hotspur was the first (and until now, the only) club to be excluded from the Super League at the end of the first season. The expense level was a mere 50% of the league average, way below the FFP threshold of 90%. “The Super League was really not for me; I only joined because I wanted to put a stop to the solidarity and parachute payments” said Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman who saw his club replaced by Newcastle in the Super League. “After being forced to double the players wages twice in a season I had to seek medical help for my growing anxiety and panic attacks. To this date I am still not fully recovered…

The Tottenham exclusion served as a stark reminder for the other super-clubs. In 2023, when PSG casually offered to Neymar a 10% increase in wages, several super-clubs were forced into emergency expenses in order to remain FFP-compliant. They promptly renewed their private jets fleet, rebuild their grounds from scratch and they tripled the financial bonus of their super-presidents.

The 3 non-permanent clubs broke the Super League monotony, and they were changed every season. After a season in the Super League, a non-permanent club must go into a 5-years cooling period. The 17 permanent super-clubs vote for the 3 newcomers every year. In order to be invited in the Super League, a regular club must meet two conditions:
– have a pedigree
– pledge to meet the FFP clause.
This season, the 3 invited clubs are: Zenit St. Petersburg (the favorite club of Vladimir Putin), Palmeiras (coached by Jair Bolsonaro) and Al-Duhail SC (the first condition is optional).

The Super League budget consists of the following revenues:

  • 10% paid by the super-kit supplier. After winning a bid that is renewed every year, the kit supplier has the chance to produce the sports equipment for all the clubs of the Super League. The well-known suppliers only managed to win the first two bids; this season, the kits will be produced by Gucci.
  • 20% represent the streaming revenue. The Super League learned from the pre-2020 mistakes and wisely chose to cut the middle men. The Super League is now online-only. There are three subscription levels if you want to watch the Super League:
    • Standard: accessible, but with a 10-minutes lag
    • Premium: 10 times more expensive than the Standard, but eliminates the lag. HD-only
    • Super Premium: the super-subscribers choice. 100 times more expensive than the Standard, but offers 16K quality and, more importantly, allows the super-subscribers to be part of the on-field decision-making: the VAR was replaced by a real-time online vote, open only to the super-subscribers.
  • The remaining 70% of the revenues come from SuperWin, the online betting super-company owning the exclusivity for Super League bets (the gossips that a cousin of Agnelli would be behind SuperWin were quickly dismissed by the Super Leagues’ Ethical Committee). SuperWin is also the only shirt sponsor for all the teams in the Super League. RB Leipzig is probably still regretting their decision against changing the club’s name back in the 2022; Valencia acted quickly and took the available super-place in the Super League.

Matchday tickets do not contribute towards the super-budget. The traditional match-going supporters were considered a liability and dully replaced by corporate supporters. The corporate supporters are employees and partners of the super-clubs and super-sponsors and receive free invitations.

The Super League clubs play on super-stadiums, which were custom-built just before the start of the first season: the stands were replaced by multi-floor infinity pools, private boxes and suspended gardens. The sound effects improved over the two seasons played behind closed doors are now a perfect match for the super-stadiums.

Over the years, the Super League received their fair share of criticism on the way of working.

Recently the Super League was accused of discrimination: while the BAME players represent more than a third in the Super League, there is no BAME person among the super-clubs staff or leadership. The Inclusion Committee quickly reacted by launching another campaign for raising awareness, but in the process it also noticed that all the ground keepers are black. The Committee swiftly fired two thirds of them and recommended the affected clubs to hire non-BAME staff in order to match the BAME players rate.

The streaming subscription rates were also a hot topic in the beginning. The Super League reacted by allowing the super-subscribers to cast their vote in the yearly ‘Messi vs Ronaldo’ poll. The poll results remains one of the most anticipated moments of the season.

Another recurrent criticism was targeting the Super League isolation towards the rest of the world. The Super League responded by unanimously voting to expand the Super League Cup from 32 to 64 teams starting next season. However the super-clubs will only enter the competition in the last-32 stage.
The last-16 stage of the Super League Cup is played in a tournament mode. Since the beginning of the Super League, only Qatar managed to win the bid for organizing this tournament. The Super League’s ambitions is that the Super League Cup final tournament will replace, in maximum 3 years, the World Cup, the European Cup and the Carabao Cup.

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