Connect with us

Sports

European Super League creation was obviously driven by money, but complaints are too little, too late, too lame

Published

on

European Super League creation was obviously driven by money, but complaints are too little, too late, too lame

In 2008, a wealthy, soccer-loving gentleman by the name of Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan — better known now as simply Sheikh Mansour — invested a small portion of his vast fortune to purchase a mediocre English soccer club known as Manchester City.

Man City cost Sheikh Mansour about $293 million, which might seem like a lot, but given that his family is worth an estimated $1 trillion and his portion of that is estimated at $17 billion, it was a little more than tip money. Let’s put it this way: Sheik Mansour owns a boat worth roughly twice what he paid for City.

MORE: The European Super League, explained: What it all means

With the Sheik’s wealth at its disposal, Manchester City was transformed from a team that had won two England first division titles since its founding in 1880 and never qualified for the modern version of UEFA Champions League to one that claimed the Premier League title four times from 2012 to 2019 and qualified for Champions League 10 consecutive times.

So complaining about money’s influence on European soccer is about as late as declaring that rock ‘n roll will corrupt our youth.

The announcement Sunday of the Super League’s formation — an annual competition that effectively would supersede the UEFA Champions League — certainly promised a revolutionary change in the dynamics of European soccer. Those fretting it as an abdication of the “sporting merit” principle, however, missed the whole movie. Sporting merit has not been the guiding principle in the European game for more than two decades. Perhaps it once mattered; if so, it was before any of it was regularly televised in America.

“Sporting merit” now represents merely the annual rearranging of deck chairs that involves — in England’s Premier League, for instance — the promotion of three teams from its Championship competition to the EPL and the demotion of three others to the Championship.

Many fans of the European game long have fetishized the concept of promotion and relegation. Some Americans even have refused to accept Major League Soccer as this nation’s domestic league because it does not involve itself in such a process. Everyone gets their entertainment a little differently, but watching teams celebrating a 17th-place finish in the Premier League because it means “staying up” always has seemed absurd.

With the exception of Leicester City’s astonishing run from promotion in 2014 to longshot Premier League champions in 2016, the promotion/relegation concept has had little impact on the competition for the league title. Since 1996, every Premier League champion save that one was claimed by one of the six English clubs that chose to become founding members of the Super League. In Spain, every La Liga title going back to 2005 has been won by either FC Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid, the three Spanish clubs that jumped on to the Super League train. Super Leaguers AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus have won every Serie A title in Italy going back to 2001.

Where’s all the “sporting merit” in that?

Money has dictated everything that’s transpired in the modern era of world soccer. Every sport avoiding the implementation of a salary cap chooses to be foremost a competition of who can spend the most money wisely. That’s what the U.S. has in baseball, where teams in cities that do not generate abundant local broadcast revenue have far less involvement in championship competition. And it’s what has ruled all the top European soccer leagues for the past 20-plus years.

Real Madrid’s original collection of Galacticos — Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Claude Makelele — was assembled through the club’s combination of wealth and brand appeal. Luis Figo, one of the most prominent members of that group, joined Real for a world-record $72 million transfer fee. He left Real’s fiercest rival, Barcelona. And yet there he was on Monday, bitterly complaining about the “greedy and callous” maneuver to start the Super League.

Sheikh Mansour was neither the only nor the first new Premier League owner to completely alter the chemistry of the club he purchased. Roman Abramovich, who primarily made his billions in the oil business, purchased Chelsea FC in 2003 and invested immediately in the acquisition of such players as Makelele, Joe Cole and Hernan Crespo. Chelsea finished second that season, won the league a year later and has added another four EPL titles and one Champons League trophy. 

Although Bayern Munich stood firm against the Super League concept at its formation, let’s not pretend that it hasn’t benefited almost obscenely from its stature and wealth. Although its front office has exhibited some keen soccer sense when locating Alphonso Davies with the Vancouver Whitecaps and reimagining him into a ferocious left back, Bayern has won eight consecutive Bundesliga titles in part by convincing the best players on other German teams to join the heavyweights. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, forward Robert Lewandowski and midfielders Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka all began their careers with less glamorous German clubs.

The best soccer players in the world are both rewarded and punished by the system. As Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos said in November, when the Super League was mentioned as a possibility, “We are just puppets of FIFA and UEFA. If there was a players’ union, we would not be playing the Nations League, or Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia. … They don’t think about the players. The Nations League and the Club World Cup are competitions to make as much money as possible at the expense of the players.”

The Super League will expand the demands on the game’s best performers. The top domestic leagues in Europe generally play 38 games. Champions League, for those that reach the final, is a 10-game commitment. And then there are the various domestic cup competitions. Then there are the quadrennial month-long World Cup and Euro tournaments, and the lengthy qualifying procedures for each. Super League will take that Champions League demand and essentially double it.

Everyone will get paid, though. If Super League proves to be as profitable as its founders expect, the best players will continue to strive for positions with the clubs involved. And it is possible that holdouts such as Bayern and Borussia Dortmund will find the allure impossible to disregard.

It is not easy to invent prestige, but the involvement of the established best clubs and best players in the world indicates that the process will not be prolonged. The examples of college football’s BCS championship game and College Football Playoff demonstrate that a championship that even hints at legitimacy will be embraced by those who revere the sport involved.

Hey, if Manchester City can spend its way to the top of the European game, there’s every reason to believe that City and the other Super League founders can buy the affection of the world’s soccer fans.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sports

What channel is UFC 262 on tonight? How to watch, buy Oliveira vs. Chandler on pay-per-view

Published

on

Oliveira vs. Chandler purse, salaries: How much money will they make at UFC 262?

It’s strap season for Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira.

After spending the majority of his career with Bellator MMA, the three-time lightweight champ has an opportunity to capture the vacant UFC lightweight championship on Saturday against Oliveira.

MORE: Sign up to watch the UFC 262 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+

Chandler has a hungry and ready opponent in the No. 3-ranked Oliveira: Looking for his first UFC title, the veteran enters this fight on an eight-fight win streak, his last bout a unanimous decision win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256.

Here’s what you need to know about Saturday night’s UFC event.

What channel is UFC 262?

  • Early prelims: UFC Fight Pass
  • Prelims: ESPN/WatchESPN
  • Main card: ESPN+ (pay-per-view)

The main card of UFC 262 will air exclusively on ESPN+, with early prelims kicking off the show on UFC Fight Pass, moving to ESPN for the prelims.

As with all UFC PPVs and ESPN, the show will air exclusively on ESPN+ at a PPV cost.

What time does Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler start?

  • Early prelims: 6 p.m. ET
  • Prelims: 8 p.m. ET
  • Main card: 10 p.m. ET

The early prelims and preliminaries are expected to start at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET, respectively. The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET. Oliveira and Chandler are expected to make their ring walks around midnight. 

How much does UFC 262 cost on PPV?

  • Date: Saturday, May 15
  • Network: ESPN+

The main card will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN+, meaning you need an ESPN+ subscription to catch the fight. On top of the subscription, there is a price for the event:

  • For current yearly subscribers, the price is $69.99 on the ESPN+ app.
  • Current monthly subscribers can get UFC 262 and an upgraded bundle at a discounted rate of $84.99. They can also purchase the event itself for $69.99.
  • New subscribers will be able to pick up a yearly recurring subscription and the PPV for $89.98, which is a savings of more than 30 percent.

Click here to learn about the different pricing and bundling options with the ESPN+ platform.

UFC 262 fight card

Early prelims

  • Gina Mazany vs. Priscila Cachoeira, women’s flyweights
  • Kevin Aguilar vs. Tucker Lutz, featherweights
  • Christos Giagos vs. Sean Soriano, lightweights

Prelims

  • ​Lando Vannata vs. Mike Grundy, featherweights
  • Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko, women’s flyweights
  • Jordan Wright vs. Jamie Pickett, middleweight
  • Ronaldo Souza vs. André Muniz, middleweights

Main card

  • Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler for vacant UFC lightweight championship
  • Matt Schnell vs. Rogério Bontorin, bantamweights
  • Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush, lightweights
  • Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araújo, women’s flyweights
  • Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza, featherweights

Continue Reading

Sports

What time is UFC 262 today? PPV schedule, main card start time for Oliveira vs. Chandler

Published

on

What time is UFC 262 today? PPV schedule, main card start time for Oliveira vs. Chandler

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement from UFC has left a massive void in the UFC’s lightweight division — one that Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler will seek to fill on Saturday.

The division’s Nos. 3- and 4-ranked fighters, respectively, will face off at the Toyota Center in Houston to become just the third non-interim lightweight champion since Conor McGregor took it from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in 2016.

Both Oliveira (30-8-1, eight KOs) and Chandler (22-5, 10 KOs) are coming off multiple wins, setting up a new era-establishing fight for the lightweight division. Will Oliveira earn the belt 11 years after first fighting under the UFC banner? Or will Chandler, fighting for only the second time under UFC since transferring from Bellator, take it?

We can’t wait to find out. With that, here’s everything you need to know to watch UFC 262, including the expected start time for the main event.

MORE: Sign up to watch the UFC 262 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+

What time does UFC 262 start today?

  • Early prelims: 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT
  • Prelims: 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT
  • PPV main card: 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
  • Oliveira vs. Chandler: 12:15 a.m. ET (approx.) / 9:15 p.m. PT (approx.)

The main card for UFC 262 is projected to start at 10 p.m. ET. Depending on how long the four prior fights on the card last, Oliveira and Chandler will make their ring walks at roughly 12:15 a.m. ET.

What channel is UFC 262 on?

The early preliminaries and first half of the prelims will stream on ESPN+; the second half of the preliminaries will move to ESPN. After that, the main card can only be watched via PPV on ESPN+.

Click here to learn more about ESPN+ pricing and bundling options.

UFC 262 card

Main card

  • Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler (lightweight championship)
  • Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush (lightweight)
  • Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araujo (women’s flyweight)
  • Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza (featherweight)
  • Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin (bantamweight)

Prelims

  • Jacare Souza vs. Andre Muniz (middleweight)
  • Lando Vannata vs. Mike Grundy (featherweight)
  • Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko (women’s flyweight)
  • Jordan Wright vs. Jamie Pickett (middleweight)

Early prelims

  • Gina Mazany vs. Priscila Cachoeira (women’s flyweight)
  • Kevin Aguilar vs. Tucker Lutz (featherweight)
  • Christos Giacos vs. Sean Soriano (flyweight)

Continue Reading

Sports

What time is the Preakness today? Post time, TV channel, horses & more to watch 2021 race

Published

on

What time is the Preakness today? Post time, TV channel, horses & more to watch 2021 race

The second jewel of the Triple Crown is up for grabs on Saturday.

The 2021 Preakness Stakes, which will run at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, will help determine whether Medina Spirit can become the first horse since Justify in 2018 to win the Triple Crown. Even if the horse does win Saturday’s race, however, that lofty accomplishment might not be guaranteed.

LIVE: Follow for updates from the 2021 Preakness Stakes

That’s because Medina Spirit returned a test positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone after its win at the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Pimlico decided to let the horse race on Saturday but, if a second test confirms the first, then Churchill Downs will invalidate Medina Spirit’s Derby win and grant runner-up Mandaloun the retroactive victory. The retesting results aren’t expected for several weeks.

Mandaloun is not part of Saturday’s race at the Preakness Stakes.

Just another tantalizing tidbit for bettors and sports fans alike ahead of Saturday’s race, which will include 10 horses and jockeys — including prohibitive morning-line favorite Medina Spirit (9/5 odds).

With that, here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 Preakness Stakes, including the post time and how to watch the event.

MORE: Watch the Preakness Stakes live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

What time is the Preakness Stakes today?

  • Date: Saturday, May 15
  • Post time: 6:50 p.m. ET
  • TV coverage: NBC

NBC Sports will cover the Preakness Stakes starting at 2 p.m. ET and transfer coverage to NBC at 5 p.m. The race has a scheduled post time of 6:50 p.m. ET at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

What channel is the Preakness Stakes on?

NBC has full broadcast rights for each of the Triple Crown races, including the Preakness Stakes. Viewers can also stream the race on NBC via fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.

PREAKNESS STAKES: Full draw and odds for 2021 race

Preakness Stakes horses 2021

Post position Horse Odds
1 Ram 30/1
2 Keepmeinmind 15/1
3 Medina Spirit 9/5
4 Crowded Trade 10/1
5 Midnight Bourbon 5/1
6 Rombauer 12/1
7 France Go De Ina 20/1
8 Unbridled Honor 15/1
9 Risk Taking 15/1
10 Concert Tour 5/2

Continue Reading

Trending