European Super League: What would a breakaway elite competition look like?

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A new top flight for the continent's biggest teams has been the subject of regular rumours but what format it might adopt remains up for debate

The current system of national football leagues has been in place for decades, and has set the foundation of today's huge global game.

But as football continues to grow wealthier and wealthier, becoming a multi-billion dollar industry at the top level, there are some who would like to see that system fundamentally changed.

There has been regular rumours in recent years around the idea of a European Super League, which could bring the top clubs on the continent together.

It would mean the end of competitive football as we know it, and Goal has all the information you need to know about what it might entail.


WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE?


Lionel Messi Barcelona

The European Super League is the common name given to a potential future breakaway league formed by Europe's top clubs.

The idea has been floated on a regular basis over the past few years as the gulf between the clubs regularly contending in the latter stages of the Champions League and those they compete with week in, week out in domestic leagues has grown.

According to a report in Marca earlier this year, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain in particular are pushing for a new structure centred around a European top flight.

Those clubs have been dominant in their respective leagues in recent years, winning 18 of 20 titles between them over the past five seasons.

In addition to the lure of greater competition, the Super League's proponents see far more significant financial rewards on offer if the best clubs in the world were to play on a more regular basis.

By at least partially withdrawing from national competition and creating a league containing all of the world's best players in line with the NFL or the NBA, the clubs involved could benefit from huge television rights deals.

The NFL, for example, currently makes $4.95 billion a year out of its US rights deals alone, which dwarfs the $1.57bn a year the Champions League broadcast agreements bring in globally.

That is despite the fact that football has far greater appeal all over the world, with far more viewers watching the Champions League final than the Super Bowl each year.


WHICH TEAMS WOULD BE IN A EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE?


Marco Verratti Neymar PSG Anderlecht Champions League 31102017

No one can say for sure which clubs would be involved due to the lack of any formal discussions to this point.

But the Super League would not be particularly super without Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, Juventus, Bayern Munich and the 'big six' from the Premier League - Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal.

On top of that, you can probably add Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Napoli, Roma, Inter, Milan, Monaco and Borussia Dortmund.

That's 19 clubs, so around the figure you'd be looking for in a standard league. How far the Super League went beyond that - and whether or not it dipped into smaller leagues for teams - would depend on the structure decided upon.


ARE THE CLUBS IN FAVOUR OF A SUPER LEAGUE?


Paulo Dybala Juventus

As mentioned, the clubs that have reportedly been pushing for a Super League are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and PSG.

It should be stated that none of those clubs have come out and confirmed their interest publicly as of yet, and certain club executives have expressed opposition to it.

But the most notable feature of that group is the absence of any clubs from the Premier League.

The reason for that is that England's top flight is already doing very, very well when it comes to television money. The Premier League will make $3.7bn per year in its current rights deal, which is still less than the NFL but a lot closer than the Champions League.

A more direct comparison, though, is with other European leagues and that is where the Premier League's riches stand out to an even greater extent.

In La Liga, the system is more tilted in favour of the big clubs because the value of each team's games is taken into account when the total pot is split up.

But despite that advantage Real Madrid and Barcelona will only receive around $170 million each this season, according to AS, which would put them in seventh place at best in the Premier League's earnings table.

The figures are even lower elsewhere: Kicker projected Bayern Munich's TV earnings at $114m in 2017-18 while Juventus are at around $135m a year, per Calcio Finanza.

Even when their Champions League earnings are added in, it's easy to see why the riches that could be on offer in a European Super League are tempting.


WILL A SUPER LEAGUE EVER BECOME A REALITY?


Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich

The introduction of a European Super League would be a huge, fundamental change to the way top-level football is organised and would be enormously controversial if it was ever even publicly proposed.

National leagues and associations would fight it, many fans would be in opposition and a long, drawn-out process would inevitably follow.

Then there is the issue of whether UEFA would be involved or if the clubs would simply band together and go it alone, causing all kinds of issues in terms of the interrelationship between the Super League and other competitions.

It's hard to see it happening any time soon, then, but there are certain factors that could accelerate the process.

One example lies in Catalonia apparent break for independence, which creates questions around Barcelona's future in La Liga if they no longer play in a Spanish city.

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