Sky Cinema on NOW: The best movies for AprilMar 24 | 5 min read
Super Greed: The Fight for Football… 3 reasons to watch documentary about the battle for control of the beautiful game
The revealing Sky documentary looks at the planned - if short-lived - European breakaway league that sent shockwaves through the football world.
In April 2021, news broke of a new mid-week football league that threatened to put an end to the UEFA Champions League and redefine European football, including England's own century-old football pyramid.
The new competition would have seen 20 of Europe’s elite clubs form a new league, with 12 founding members – including ‘the big six’ from England – exempt from relegation. With guaranteed entry into the lucrative league each and every year, it would’ve resulted in the Premier League losing a lot of its lustre.
For the six Premier League clubs, made up of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal, plus other European giants such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, a huge increase in revenues awaited.
But the fans didn’t support it. Protests took place outside many of the grounds, including at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford and The Emirates. Within 48 hours, dreams of the proposed new league were shattered, with club chairmen admitting defeat.
The chasm between ordinary fans and the money men of the football world were clear for everyone to see. The beautiful game had revealed a very ugly side.
Now the new Sky documentary, Super Greed: The Fight for Football, looks at the failed attempt to reimagine European football.
Here are three reasons to tune in.
1. The documentary features interviews with the key players and football chairmen
Unsurprisingly, the chairmen of ‘the big six’ clubs don’t appear on the documentary to share their opinions and thoughts on the European Super League (ESL). However, there are interviews with some of the key players running European football, including Javier Tebas, President of Spain's La Liga, Aleksander Ceferin, President of UEFA, and chairmen of football clubs from outside ‘the big six’ such as Angus Kinnear, CEO of Leeds United and Steve Parish, co-owner and Chairman of Crystal Palace.
All give insight into how the ESL grew as an idea, the announcement of the new competition and its downfall. Plus, there’s the thoughts of the ex-Chairman of ITV Sport, Greg Dyke, who talks about how TV companies played a role in planting the seeds that led to the ESL, and representatives of supporter groups who talk about the breakaway league from a fans’ perspective.
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2. Super Greed unravels how the ESL unfolded and its downfall – from the formation of the Premier League to Chelsea fans protesting outside Stamford Bridge
The idea of a European Super League made front-page news across the world and sparked such an outcry that the new competition was closed down within 48 hours. However, its formation was planned over many years.
Super Greed takes a closer look at the footballing and business landscape in which the idea of a super league was allowed to gather momentum. It looks at how state ownership of football clubs played its part in raising the money involved in the beautiful game and how the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the need for big clubs to protect their finances.
The documentary also shows how fans united to bring down the ESL, with protests outside stadiums sending a clear message to football owners that the fans weren’t onside with their plans.
3. The super league story rumbles on
After the English clubs pulled out of plans to form the ESL, it looked like the new competition was dead and buried. But almost a year on since the ESL was launched and seemingly scrapped, three rebel clubs are still pressing ahead with plans to form a breakaway league. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus still believe that there is an alternative to what’s currently being served up by UEFA.
And they’re even taking their case to the European Court of Justice to argue that UEFA’s control of European football constitutes a monopoly that’s in breach of competition law.
If they can win their case, they may be able to press ahead with a European Super League, even without the involvement of English clubs, from the start at least. If they tackle the hurdles from the first version of the competition, such as removing permanent status for ‘big clubs’ and introducing a system of promotion and relegation, they may feel that they can offer an alternative to the Champions League with a greater financial pull for Europe’s elite.
Whatever happens to European football in the future, Super Greed gives you a good insight into why some clubs were so desperate to be a part of the ESL.
You can watch Super Greed: The Fight for Football on Sky Documentaries with NOW from Monday 21 March.