Today The Daily Record has turned to an old and trusted friend as they attempt to construct scenarios where Celtic could lose out on big money and therefore more easily enable them to be caught by the chasing pack, and one gasping, toothless old hound in particular.
Yes it’s that old European Super League plan again, where “top Scottish teams” – that would us – would be denied access to the biggest club football competition in the world. This would, of course, erase part of our advantage over Sevco at a stroke, so you can see why this has become not so much a danger to Scottish football as that which many are now actively hoping for.
The article – which is one of those which is so bad they didn’t even bother to put a reporter’s name on it – is so ignorant and lazy it defies belief. It reports that Real Madrid are so angry about the cancellation of a single league game that they want to quit La Liga altogether and form a new elite league with the biggest clubs from elsewhere.
As usual, Premier League TV rights are being held up as the motivation; Madrid are jealous, apparently, that EPL clubs are getting so much money from broadcasters, and are set to be joined in this league by the likes of Bayern Munich, PSG and … errrrr … various clubs based in England.
Who apparently are jealous of … their own TV deal.
Yes, this is where this story always falls on its arse, but no matter how many times you hit it with a hammer this particular spook story refuses to die. It gets up again like a movie monster, or the Ibrox operation, and shambles on forward.
This plan depends on clubs leaving their national associations to set up on their own.
Outside the aegis of UEFA and FIFA. Who hold all the registrations for their players. Who allow national teams to compete in their own competitions. Who provide the refs and the linesmen, and who are solely responsible for negotiating current transnational contracts.
It’s tiresome having to go through this time and time again; even if the will existed and these clubs were willing to walk away from their own national leagues, those leagues would struggle mightily not to allow it. UEFA would never allow it. Those clubs would be unable to compete in UEFA events, and their players would be banned from their national teams. A super league would effectively become an outcast organisation with no official status within the game; it would become a glorified friendly competition, with no going back.
The only way this ever happens, legitimately, and could work, would be if UEFA were behind it and the clubs were still playing in their national divisions. If entry to it was by merit and not by invite and it was an open process for every national league in Europe.
UEFA will never allow the creation of any competition which excludes participation from nations outside of the big ones. Never. There is zero appetite for it; quite the contrary, the day will come when the regulations which have just been put in place giving those top leagues four automatic places each will be overturned.
The game is heading for a more inclusive period, not less.
The expansion of the Champions League and that of the Euros and the World Cup points clearly to the direction of travel and the clubs can squeal like pigs all they like about it, but those threats to “go elsewhere” are empty and dumb.
For a start, English clubs aren’t walking away from their current pot of gold. Not in this lifetime, not to go and join up with some fantasy football competition outwith UEFA’s all-seeing eye. It’s a ridiculous, discredited, concept which somehow the media manages to get mileage out of time and time again.
And La Liga’s isn’t exactly worth a pittance. Madrid are jealous? Of what? They are already the richest club in world football, followed closely by Barcelona. They can negotiate their own, separate, TV deals at the moment and their income from them dwarfs which even the highest ranked team in the EPL gets.
This “jealous” thing is arrant nonsense.
So too is the idea of a super league, constructed without merit, based on how big a club is.
Or how big a club seems to be.
For all the EPL wealth the Champions League quarter finals will, this year, still come down to two clubs from Spain and perhaps one from Germany with the token English participants if they can get past the Italian and French behemoths of Juventus and PSG.
It’s all entirely predictable, as are the excuses which will follow.
Some people in Scotland can conceive of a football structure which isn’t based on merit.
You know why?
Cause they’d have been happy for us to build it ourselves back in 2012.
A competition built on how big clubs are rather than on what they do on the pitch would suit these people right down to the ground, because it’s the only one in which Frankenstein’s Football Club would stand a chance of actually getting in.
If it’s left to merit, these people will never see their favourite club compete at the highest level of the sport again. So I do get why this has become the fantasy of choice; not only would it result in Celtic losing access to the top competition, but it would give the press impetus for banging the drum for some form of cross border or Atlantic League – one of the only conceivable scenarios where Sevco would get more money in the door.
The Herald produced an article this weekend where they suggested that for the betterment of Celtic and the game we should consider leaving … and that makes the job drop. Since when did a national newspaper give us advice for our own benefit?
“It is why for their own sake and for the rest, Celtic must pursue other options …” says this piece.
Let’s remove the “for our own sake” part of it; this has got nothing to do with what’s in the best interests of Celtic. But it boggles the mind when you read people so desperate to get shot of us before ten in a row is wrapped up that they would be willing to risk “Armageddon” to do it.
Aren’t we, after all, one of the club the game here needs for its survival?
I am confused perhaps; how can they seriously be arguing that it would be in everyone’s best interests if we took our show on the road?
And wouldn’t that risk a future where Sevco became the dominant team?
Yes, but that’s not as bad for the game here as Celtic’s dominance, of course.
It certainly wasn’t during Rangers nine in a row.
All this is to say that I’m bored with the subject. There’s no way for Celtic to leave Scottish football; the route doesn’t exist. The European super league will never happen; that door has been officially closed until at least 2021 anyway with UEFA’s new Champions League format due to take effect the season after next and run for three years.
Nothing will happen – nothing whatsoever – in European football’s structure until that period is almost at an end.
And beyond that? My bet would be when snowballs have a chance in Hell.
I don’t care whether the hacks who churn this crap out are lazy, stupid, ignorant or just desperate for any chink of light on the horizon, something, anything, that hurts us even in the short term, but to drag up this discredited joke of an idea so consistently really reeks like a dead fish.
They’d be better off devoting some coverage to the mammoth crisis overwhelming their favourite team, and subjecting every person of influence in it to the scrutiny they deserve.
But that might hurt the bottom line and offend the PR people.
Much easier to recycle this old bucket of warm sick.