Bayern Munich was one of the big clubs that publicly rejected joining the ESL, voicing its opinion against the move while condemning this attack on European football by the so called ‘European elite’. This warranted a huge collective sigh of relief from the Bayern fanbase and to a lesser extent, from football fans around the world - Bundesliga clubs were not having it, and so not all of European football was under siege.
The BFW staff group, full of romantic football fans was unsurprisingly full of messages and comments expressing strong disapproval against any idea resembling a ‘Super League’ that would render league and beautiful European match-ups pointless. Is football really worth it if you can’t watch the likes of Lyon knock out Manchester City? Imagine a world where Bayern won’t be able to play clubs like Beşiktaş, Red Star Belgrade and Olympiacos. Aren’t potential upsets what make the UCL so much more exciting and wonderful?
I got a few of my colleagues at BFW to give their opinions on the subject. Here’s what Bayern’s rejection of the Super League means to us:
As a member, I want Bayern to have nothing to do with any European Super League as it is currently proposed. German soccer, like its beer, with its raucous and passionate fans, and the 50+1 rule is the purest in Europe. While UEFA is moving in the right direction with the creation of the Europa Conference League, an attempt to further democratize the league by allowing a much larger number of clubs access to meaningful international matches, the venal twelve who want to create this “ESL” seek to create an elite organization that will limit participation to a rich few.
It completely runs against the idea that sport should be for the fans by simply turning the game into a money trough for the richest and most powerful clubs, leaving all the rest out in the cold. I have no interest in seeing Bayern v Madrid once or twice a year, and never having to worry about being upset by BATE in the group stages. Creating an ESL would be like pouring a ton of toxic waste into a vibrant but beautiful ecosystem. It would kill off all but the strongest of species, leaving the rest to literally starve and die. If the ESL goes ahead I would prefer not only Bayern to stay the hell out of it, but to help lead the war against it. I don’t see how a fan who appreciates the many aspects of German football beyond the balance sheet could hope otherwise.
This is a really difficult choice to make – as a fan of the game, I want Bayern to remain in the competitions they currently participate in, while, on the other hand, my Bayern heart doesn’t want my club to be left behind. However, there is a reason why I love the German game – I feel an investment in my club because my club is run by others like me: the fans.
The big matches are exciting because they occur so rarely. Bayern played Barcelona in 2015 and had to wait till 2020 to play them again; this is what makes the game special. If Bayern and Barca met each year, I would not be very excited by the match-up. Even the clashes against PSG do not feel as big because we have met them quite often in recent years. The Bayern-Arsenal games lost a bit of glamour because the tie was happening too often between 2010 and 2016. As a fan of the Bundesliga, the league matches mean a lot to me. I make no secret of my love for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen (Leverkusen because of playing style). Hence, Bayern’s games against Gladbach and Leverkusen hold special meaning for me.
When Bayern kicks off on a Friday as the champions of the previous season, I remember what Mia San Mia means. When Bayern played Schalke (pre-2020), the games were always quite special. The reward for the hard work throughout the season is a place in the late stages of the Champions League against an equally storied or more storied club. For the sake of the game and because of my love of the Bundesliga and all it represents, I would want Bayern to miss out on the Super League and end up staying in the Champions League.
I strongly feel that Bayern shouldn’t join any super league. This is a war for football as we know it and Bayern have definitely been positioned on the right side of the affair so far. Joining the super league would go against all and every value Bayern has a club; it reeks of corporate greed and elitism, and also goes against all the values that football has ever been about.
The Americanization of the potential league, essentially being a closed shop for a tiny amount of super clubs is completely disgraceful — parts of the joys from football come in the fact that results matter, how every club has the chance to advance up the ladder. The super league is a spit in the face to over 70 years of institution and tradition in European football and the fans that make the game. Without the supporters, there is no game. Bayern have historically shown a more fan oriented approach than other super clubs, now is the time to commit to those values and reject any and all invitations to this so called “super league”.
I’m 100% against the creation of a European Super League that picks its teams based on brand and star power and not on-the-field performances. The Champions League itself is a fine competition, and while it could be a better one for big teams and small teams alike, there’s no reason to completely cast it aside for just the big teams constantly playing against each other.
With that said, if the Super League were to actually happen, it would be corporate malfeasance (and, yes, Bayern Munich is a business) for the club to not join it, and I think everyone realizes that. For as far as our ideals will take us, the almighty euro rules at the end of the day.
Still, as I’m sure almost everyone will agree, one of the reasons we enjoy watching European soccer is because of the possibility that a big team will fall. It’s joyful when it’s not your team. Why would I want to take that away?
One of the joys of being a Bayern fan is constant entertainment from both Bundesliga and Champions League action, season in, season out. I don’t care if I sound biased when I say this: the Bundesliga is the best league in the world, not least because it has a passionate fan base, the clubs operate in a system where the majority of every club is fan owned (yes, some have found loopholes, but the system is still functioning really well) and the best grass. Yes, you gotta love that grass.
All that being said, a European ‘Super League’ (nothing super about it, outside super greed) would take that joy away from the fans. The joy of working hard for clinching the Bundesliga title. The joy of coming back with resounding wins after struggles against the likes of Hoffenheim and Mönchengladbach. The increased revenue flow and huge television deals would create a greater divide between the super rich and the less ‘elite’. We would not be saving football, we’d be destroying it.
From a European football perspective, things get even worse. Clubs like Ajax, Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk and Roma (among others) who we always enjoy watching in the Champions League may never get the opportunity to face the ‘elite’. Fans would never be treated to the prospect of upsets. Football will lose its charm if you have Bayern Munich pitted against the likes of Liverpool and Real Madrid all the time. Would we rather have a competition where more minnows around Europe have the chance to make it big, or one where we see the so called giants battle for it all the time?
Fans around the world have shown their disapproval and condemned the move, and the Super League has crumbled before it could materialize into anything concrete. However, as fans of the beautiful game, I think we have the right to ask certain questions, like: Does this mean there will never be such a league in the future? Will there be reforms in place to ensure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again? Why do the billionaires have so much control? Are UEFA and FIFA doing the same thing, albeit seeming to be all ethical and just?
Things need to change. Football is for the fans, and fan experience and support should be the at the pinnacle of the sport. Giving all the controls to the few at the top? That’s just wrong.