A new report on the European sports sponsorship industry claims that a breakaway European Super League, featuring Europe’s top football clubs, will never happen, for a number of practical and legal reasons. The threat to form such a league is little more than a bluff by the major clubs to force UEFA to accept their demands for more income and a changed Champions League format.

The 470-page report, Driving Business Through Sport – An analysis of Europe’s sports sponsorship industry, business opportunities and best practice, published by International Marketing Reports Ltd, has been prepared by marketing journalist Simon Rines and is the product of two years’ research.

According to Rines, ‘Any one of a whole series of objections to the formation of a super league could be enough to sink it, and the clubs must realise this. That is why the only possible reason why the major clubs, especially the so-called G14 group of top clubs, are continuing to pursue it is that they want to use it as a bargaining counter in their negotiations with UEFA.’

The reasons why a super league would not succeed include:

  • Although a certain level of income is likely to be guaranteed to the clubs involved, it could fall short of what they currently receive because clubs (and their players) could be expelled from all UEFA affiliated competitions, including domestic leagues and cups and international matches. This would reduce club revenue and exposure.
  • Because a super league is likely to be broadcast on subscription television, its exposure to the mass market could be restricted. With a likelihood of around three clubs at most from the each of the major European footballing nations joining, the majority of football fans would still be supporters of non-ESL clubs and would have little incentive to buy ESL subscriptions.
  • Without subscription income an ESL would not be viable. In the long-term, the major clubs that are not members of a super league could then attract the new generation of fans.
  • In Europe-wide surveys, football fans have not shown any great enthusiasm for the ESL and fans have generally shown a greater interest in domestic rivalries than European competition.
  • The practicalities of promotion and relegation would make it very difficult for the top clubs to ensure that they remained within the Super League, and those relegated would be much worse off than they are now.
  • Any attempt to create a ‘closed shop’ in which there was no promotion or relegation would almost certainly face a legal challenge at European Union level under the laws concerning abuse of dominant position in the market – Article 86 of the Treaty of Rome.
  • Driving Business Through Sport is the most comprehensive examination of the sports sponsorship in Europe (including the UK) ever produced. Its 470 pages not only carry a mass of data, but also identify sponsorship opportunities and provide a guide to best practice, plus a number of in-depth case histories. It is priced at £495, and can be ordered from International Marketing Reports.

    For further information ring 020 7372 6561 or view IMR’s web site for full contents and sample sections.