While everything is currently great with the Boston Red Sox, the same can’t be said for one of John Henry’s other teams, Liverpool of the English Premier League.
Henry has been dealing with getting hounded by BBC reporters outside Fenway Park and releasing Twitter apologies to fans at 3 a.m. It’s all because of the European Super League debacle, which as of Wednesday appears to be crumbling before our eyes following an inferno of backlash from fans and players across European soccer.
So what is (or was) the Super League? It was a proposed competition that would include all the powerhouses of European soccer from different countries.
It’s hard to compare to American sports. But for baseball, it would be like if the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and other big-money superpowers decided to join a league with the top Korean and Japanese league to start their own playoffs and World Series that they’d play for in addition to normal Major League Baseball. Smaller market teams would get a chance to play in, but the big-money teams would always have a seat in the would-be playoffs.
The teams who initially planned to become the founding members of that league were:
Henry’s Liverpool team, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League
Atletico Madrid, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid of La Liga in Spain
AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus of Serie A in Italy
In the wake of the backlash, 10 of those 12 teams have since backed out, including Liverpool. Only Barcelona and Real Madrid remain, leaving the proposed league in a state of ruin.
The idea would be that the Super League would only have the best games between big-market teams all the time. For the most part, fans and players hated it. The national leagues hated it too, threatening to place sanctions on teams and players that participated in the Super League.
Here’s why: In this scenario, would the Cubs and Yankees still care about their games in the AL East, or would they go through the motions? Would it destroy the status of smaller market teams?
It’s not a perfect one-to-one comparison. But the point is that fans immediately started protesting the idea and directed their ire at the owners of the clubs who would benefit from the new league because of the bonkers TV deals that would inevitably come.
A big part of the narrative for the Super League was that it was promoted as an attempt to make an American-style sports league like the NFL or NBA that has parity and salary caps instead of the normal threat of relegation to lower leagues in Europe.
The attempt to form the Super League was advertised as “The best clubs. The best players. Every week.”
But in the fallout, the Super League has been perceived as a pure money grab with, the ire of the soccer world has fallen on billionaire owners — particularly American owners — drawing much of the blame.
Henry isn’t the only American to own a high-profile European soccer club. The Glazer Family, which owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also owns Manchester United. Stan Kroenke, who moved the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles, owners Arsenal of the Premier League. Shahid Khan, who owns the Jaguars, also owns Fulham.
Henry’s Liverpool team was one of six English teams that were initially set to be included. The club has since backed out, with Henry apologizing. However, the damage has already been done.
By Nick O’Malley, masslive.com