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John Henry, Tom Werner might want to put off any upcoming trips to Liverpool

The dual owners of the Red Sox and the Liverpool Football Club are among the owners of rich European soccer teams that last night announced a new league that has millions of fans across the continent screaming for their heads.

The clubs announced a new "super league," more akin to American pro sports leagues, where there's never a chance a minor-league team can do so well it makes it to the majors, which then "relegates" a team down to the minors. Imagine if the Sox were made a AAA team, or whatever they call them now, after last year's dismal performance (or imagine if the Sox, the Yankees and the Dodgers announced a new league that excluded teams like Cleveland and St. Louis).

Europeans love this system, it seems. Dave Prentice, sports editor of the Liverpool Echo, tears into Henry and Werner today:

It has been five years since John W. Henry, Tom Werner and Mike Gordon put their names to a statement, claiming they were "troubled" by the perception that they "don’t care about our supporters, that we are greedy, and that we are attempting to extract personal profits at the club’s expense."

I hope they slept well last night.

I didn't. Nor did the hundreds of thousands of supporters they claim to represent as news broke of their involvement in a radical reshape of the entire structure of European football. ...

Henry, Werner and Gordon appear to have ripped up almost 70 years of European tradition and history without a single word of explanation why.

The Guardian explains the new system.

Shame on LFC.

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Comments

I was reading about this today and decided it sounded like a big old sh*t show. I'm glad that I neither follow nor understand European soccer.

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I started reading about this and had to pause to look up "relegation" (the term for, in our context, the Red Sox being demoted to AAA or maybe even AA after last season).

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I'm tired of our leagues rewarding teams for tanking or not punishing them for deliberately putting out subpar players to save money. Relegation at least gives every team a reason to try to be competitive and field the best team they can.

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Except for Man City is owned by Gulf State royalty, Barca and Real owned by fans, Juve by billionaire auto makers. Chelsea is owned by Russian "oil money". Inter is owned by Chinese investors. Spurs is owned by Londoners and have a big new stadium to pay for, but Henry / Werner and Wal-Mart guy Stan Kronke (Arsenal) are taking the heat.

Barca and Real have overspent and might be in debt. ManUre are a cash machine and is a publicly traded company.

A lot of people are at fault here.

The thing is that when the Sox went up for sale in 2002 there was all this talk about "The Public Trust" etc. That went away with 2004 and the subsequent W-Suburb invasion of Fenway. 07, 13, and 18 have reiterated the lack of care about a public trust.

Full disclosure - Have had a LFC sticker on my car for 13 years and have seen them 4 times here with Covid beating down a planned visit there. This is not good for overall soccer in England or in Spain and Italy. The Germans will not join, which is good because the German soccer fans appear to focus all that "energy" they have into games and not trying to invade their neighbors. A smaller version of this league is being planned to merge Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg into a league and there is talk of MLS merging with Liga MX, which is actually a good idea because it might make relegation / promotion here possible.

I love to watch teams like Fulham trying to stay up and teams like Norwich fighting to get back into the PL.

LFC (and Everton) are really the only game in town in Liverpool which is a city that has a South Boston and Roxbury 1995 make up racially and economically but votes for candidates that make some JP and Somerville politicians look like Ted Cruz. These two teams are the area's cultural focus much more than the Beatles tours.

This proposal to form a super league is like rooting for insurance companies. I hope it fails.

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They really showed the way for US sports owners to get into PL soccer and extract money by the bucket without real consequence.

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If the teams are still in their own leagues, Champions League, and players still play on national teams, then this is just another competition with its own trophy independent of any of the other things (and can be ridiculed as such).

Now, I'm reading that UEFA, all the leagues, and FIFA have all said they'll do anything they can to stop this new league including kicking these teams out of all sorts of competitions. In that case, I doubt this league goes forwards, because now these teams wouldn't be anything other than show ponies for their own closed circuit of who-cares play. But to me, that just seems like a cynical ploy by all of *those* leagues to not have their games diluted by the teams playing extra games against each other outside the current "fair and open" competition that FIFA/EUFA/etc. all profit from.

Nobody was going to look at this new "super league" and consider its trophy to be some sort of equivalent to anything meaningful...it was just another way for these teams to get viewers and butts in seats when they're not doing their normal league or Champions League or anything else. None of those teams were going to pull out of their prior commitments because they still want the chance to claim being UEFA champs or Premier League champs every year.

But if UEFA and all make this some sort of either/or then they look like the sore losers...like they can't stand the thought that Liverpool might play Real Madrid in another other than Champions League and make money from it that UEFA doesn't get a taste of. And that...that's just hypocritical bullshit when you're making a statement that your concern is over the sport being "fair and open".

I don't know how much you know about football but you're understanding here is wrong. It's not just another competition, these teams won't play in the Champions League if this league is formed. What makes football special, especially in Europe, is each country's relegation/promotion system. The system is built so that any team (regardless of money) has to fight for their right to be in the level of league they're in. As Adam said above, if MLB had promotion/relegation and the Sox played poorly one season, they might be demoted to AAA. Then hopefully the next season they can win their AAA division and be promoted back to the MLB. They could also fall off a cliff and be demoted to leagues further below AAA as well. It's the most fair system. Now to get into Champions League, you need to be one of the best teams in your country's league. In essence, the Champions League is a tournament for the best of the of the best from each European country.

The issue is that you have to fight for you right, like every other team, to be in the Champions League but in this Super League you don't have to fight for anything, you're automatically in it because you're a big wealthy club who was invited and signed this deal. So all the smaller teams whose dream is it to make it to Champions League and win it will never be in this league. So if one of these super league teams plays poorly in their country's league, it doesn't matter, they're still in the super league and their revenue is pretty much guaranteed.

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Did I understand correctly that the superleague teams are trying to prevent players from playing for their national teams also?

It would be a bummer for Champions League if those teams do not play, I love seeing small clubs mix with the big boys and try to take them down. Look at the likes of Dundalk who made a great run out of Ireland and how much money that made for their club!

Agree that a couple American owners are taking the brunt of the heat, at least in what I have read today...

If this goes through, FIFA has threatened to not let any players involved in the Super League play in the World Cup. That is where all of this will get even more messy. The Super League founders have shot back saying they will just create their own World Cup if that happens.

Also, completely agree, watching small clubs fight the giants in Champions League is like watching small schools in March Madness upset the big boys.

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Which actually would affect the U.S. Men's National Team (e.g. their top star, Pulisic, plays for Chelsea) and other countries' teams outside of Europe as well.

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Our top star plays for Juventus, but the problem would still exist for McKinnie.

What I'm not aware of is whether a team could play in both the UCL and SuperLeague. If signing up for the SuperLeague means giving up their right to play in the UCL (by schedule or something) then this is just a matter of "you can't quit, I fired you". But if the UEFA threat has any teeth, it's because these teams *could* still play in the UCL even if they're in their own SuperLeague too (maybe they wouldn't want to, who knows).

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The Super League teams would not play in UCL at all. Of course UEFA wants to keep them in their competition but that's not the real issue for anyone here. The real issue is that it creates a league (tournament) you have to buy into rather than work your way into that guarantees profits. This has massive financial ramifications for the entire European football world.

With the UCL, you make more money the farther you go in the tournament, regardless of which team you are, which is completely fair. If the SuperLeague teams are still allowed to play in their domestic leagues then the financial gap between these big Super League teams and the smaller teams will be astronomical since the Super League profits are guaranteed every year and not based on success.

Now you could have some weird system where the top 4 non-Super league teams in the PL could play in the CL, but really it would all unravel. The TV money for what would be the current Europa league would be, well like Europa league money and the Europa league would be even further devalued.

Relegation is a good system for sure and ensures a lot of competition that doesn't take place in North American leagues that use a draft system and no relegation, particularly at the bottom and middle of the table/league. However one thing that relegation doesn't solve in European soccer is the lack of salary cap or attempted parity between teams. The threat of relegation doesn't really matter if your team can buy a spot in the top 5 of the league every year like the top European teams do. Because there's no salary cap and no draft system, the richest teams can buy the best players, have the most success, and stay rich. However it costs a ton of money. Perhaps that's one of the main reasons they're considering this league - there won't be as strong an impetus for them to spend hundreds of millions on players if they don't have a threat of relegation or missing out on the Champions league.

Of course baseball also has the problem of rich teams buying success (Yankees, Red Sox) but it's not quite as easy or guaranteed as it is in Europe

Wrong!! It would interfere with the Clubs availability to play in domestic cups and that just for a start! Do your research fgs.

Remember when baseball used to be fun. Worrying about the Red Sox? Pumped for a weekend stand against the hated Yankees? Hoping to make the playoffs and feel good about it until it all comes crashing down in an inning-long shitshow?

I sure remember. But those days ended with the arrival of one John W. Henry and his crew. Outside of a hurling match I haven't set foot inside Fenway in over a decade and I haven't watched a game since Bobby Valentine faffed his way out of the playoffs. And now he wants to do the same with European soccer: run it with soulless efficiency, maximize revenues from every square inch even/especially if it means displacing lifelong fans and above all create media content so antiseptic that only the most desperately intellectual will watch it. And there's his product, a bunch of middle-aged suburban men dressed as little leaguers pining for '67 while sending in their season ticket money so they won't lose their spot. What a joke.

And don't @ me about the MLS because that's not a competitive league in any sense of the word. It's a season-long exhibition soccer show put on by the NFL owners to satisfy a bullshit obligation to a FIFA that never really cared if they made good on it.

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John Henry, along with his partners, bought the Red Sox in 2002. In 2004 they won the World Series for the first time since 1918. They have won it three more times since. Fun is about more than winning, but winning is fun. Henry may not be an ideal owner, but he followed Tom Yawkey (and the ghost of Tom Yawkey), which makes him look pretty good.

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Nothing good comes out from whatever Henry's household is controlling.