June 5th, 2030: The final of the Budweiser European Super League. After toppling Juventus in the semi-finals in Qatar, Liverpool travel to Xinjiang, China to face off against Manchester Devils in the final. We are nearing the end of a month of playoffs, where 14 out of the 18 initial league sides qualified.
Throughout this period Liverpool manager Steven Gerrard has been bemoaning his team’s lack of preparation for this fixture, due to their 7 games in the past 18 days, including a lucrative playoff qualifier against Inter Miami.
Interest in the league has dropped spectacularly since its inaugural season, with most unwilling to fork out the extra £40 a month for access to ‘Sky Sports ESL’. 65,000 people reportedly tuned in at 10am to watch Liverpool’s semi-final, making it the 12th most watched programme at that time, marginally behind a rerun of Emmerdale on ITV 4.
Liverpool skipper Kylian Mbappe refused to comment on this when put to him at their pre-match press conference, instead stating ‘we are grateful for the fan’s support, and we are focused on the match ahead.’
The pre-match interview had also been disrupted by rumours that the London Spurs have been relegated, in a first for the league. This came after a unanimous vote by the ‘Super 6’ (Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United).
The decision was caused by worries about the revenue Spurs would bring into the league, after having finished bottom of the pile for the fifth consecutive season. The ‘Super 6’ will now vote on Spurs’ replacement, with the Cristiano Ronaldo coached ‘Rest of the World All Stars’ the front-runners for the berth.
This comes just days after Manchester Blue’s Erling Haaland was forced to deny allegations that his side had been denied re-entry into the English Premier League, after Manchester Blues had reportedly asked to re-join. Speaking at the launch of their fourth kit in New York he stated that they were ‘focused on the match ahead, and grateful for the fan’s support.’
Their desire to re-join won’t come as a great shock to many. The Premier League has enjoyed a boost of popularity since the break-away European Super League was formed. A Jack Grealish-led Aston Villa won their first league title for 49 years, watched by 13 million on BBC One. They topped the division on 76 points, one ahead of pre-season favourites Leicester on 75, with Leeds and Nottingham Forest making up the top 4.
Premier League teams have given a record of amount of playing time to local homegrown players this season, and six separate clubs have broken their previous best for consecutive sold-out home fixtures.
Contrast this to a recent survey where it was revealed 78% of Liverpool fans feel ‘alienated’ from their club, after a fan-led campaign to hold more than a solitary game at Anfield this season was deemed ‘financially unfeasible’ by the owners.
Coincidentally this was the exact term used by Sky Sports when revealing that they would not enter the bidding for the following season’s television rights. The novelty of the best sides playing each other has quickly worn off, and the prospect of exactly the same match-ups for all of eternity has forced the majority of the football-watching public to direct their attention elsewhere.
The real question is what the ESL clubs will do next after the expiration of the agreed European calendar at the end of next season.