European football clubs in talks to create a ‘Super League,’ putting UEFA and national leagues in jeopardy

A major shakeup of European football might be coming

Lesson #
November 12, 2018

Some of Europe's top football clubs, including Manchester United and Bayern Munich, are in talks to create a "Super League" that would feature more head-to-head matchups of the continent's best teams, but which may put the existing structure of European football in jeopardy. Based on early reports, it was not clear if the clubs would consider leaving their national leagues or if the Super League would replace the UEFA Championship. Plus, learn the English phrase "at the expense of."


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Transcript

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A major shakeup of European football might be coming

Eleven of Europe’s top football teams are considering forming a Super League, casting doubt on the future of Europe’s national leagues and the UEFA Championship.

Hi everyone, welcome back to Plain English—Monday edition for November 12, 2018. This is episode 102, so you can find the transcript online at PlainEnglish.com/102. We have a lot of new listeners, so if you haven’t seen the episode transcripts, I think you’ll really like them. Not only does it have every word I say on the program, but it also has instant translations of about a hundred words every episode. We have translations from English to Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Italian, and Japanese. PlainEnglish.com/102. Check it out.

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European Super League may endanger current club format

Some of Europe’s top football teams are secretly negotiating to create a European Super League, comprised of the best football clubs in Europe, according to a dramatic report published in Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper. The report was based on a leak from an inside source, known as John—obviously not his real name. This John is the manager of the web site Football Leaks, which is like the Wikileaks of the footballing world.

If true, this could be a dramatic re-organization of the biggest football market in the world, and a big change to how some of the world’s most valuable sports franchises play their games. According to the report—and this is all based on an unauthorized leak at this point, so it’s not for sure—but according to the report, the new super league would consist of eleven of Europe’s top football clubs, plus five “invited guests.” The eleven founding clubs would not be subject to relegation—the common practice in Europe by which a losing team is dropped from the top league. That would not be a feature of the new league, as the eleven founding teams would be guaranteed a spot for twenty years. The league would also invite five guest teams at the beginning; they would not have the same guarantees.

The leaked reports said that the league could be operational by 2021. It’s not clear right now how this new Super League might fit into the fabric of the existing way football is played in Europe. Right now, all of Europe’s biggest teams play in national leagues. For example, Manchester United plays in the English Premier League. Real Madrid plays in La Liga, the league in Spain. FC Bayern plays in the Bundesliga, German’s national league, and so on. Each league has its season, in which the teams play mostly within their own countries. In addition, the best teams across all Europe play in a tournament called the UEFA Champions League tournament—essentially the highest football prize in Europe.

But the result of this setup is that the very best teams don’t play each other all that often. In La Liga, for example, there are two excellent teams—Real Madrid and Barcelona. But the rest of the league is not as good. So the best two teams are spending most of the year playing comparatively worse teams, and only in the UEFA Champions League tournament do they get matched up against truly equal competition.

How would the new Super League fit into this format? It’s not clear right now exactly what would happen. Would the new Super League replace the UEFA Champions League tournament? Would those teams just opt out of that tournament, leaving it for the less competitive teams in Europe? Would they stay in their country leagues, leave their country leagues entirely, or try to play a limited schedule within their own countries to concentrate on their Super League matchups? These are all open questions—but one thing is for sure: there would have to be some big changes in European football if this happens.

Is this a good thing or not? Let me offer my truly neutral point of view—and I mean neutral, since I don’t follow soccer—or, as I’m calling it in this episode, football. The advantage to a European Super League would be that the very best clubs would play each other more often. That means the competition would be more even, and fans would see more competitive games, more evenly-matched games, where the world’s very best stars compete against each other more frequently.

The downside to a Super League would be that individual country competitions may be diluted if the top teams play in them less frequently, or leave them entirely. Diluted means, they’d be less strong. Watered-down. What would the English Premier League be if Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City all left the league, or played in fewer games? Remember this is all based on leaks, so we don’t know what the teams want to do with respect to their individual leagues. But regardless, you have to imagine that the individual country leagues would lose some of their vitality if their best clubs’ most important games were not within the league, but outside of it, in an exclusive club.

It’s hard for me to say whether I think this is a good idea or not. You have to imagine that this is driven by a desire for big, global television contracts for the proposed Super League, and it would come at the expense of the national leagues. More frequent head-to-head matchups of the continent’s best clubs mean higher television ratings and more sellout games—both of which would be good for football at the very highest level. The question now is, Is the world lacking for good football matchups as it is? Would it be worth it to risk damaging the individual country leagues just to squeeze out some more big marquee matchups? Remember, the more the big teams play each other, the less special each individual matchup would be.

The teams that are considering leaving, according to the leaks, are the Premier League teams I mentioned a second ago, plus Italy’s AC Milan and Juventus, Spain’s Real Madrid and Barcelona, Germany’s Bayern Munich, and France’s Paris St.-Jermain.

The leaked report in Der Spiegel is from this one individual, who says he is not a hacker. The German newspaper shared the information it reviewed with the Reuters news agency, London’s Sunday Times, and Spain’s El Mundo. Overall, 80 journalists from 15 news agencies reviewed the documents provided by the confidential source.


Like I said, I’m not really a football fan, so I’m not sure what to think about all this. I kind of think they have a pretty good thing going right now; it would be quite risky to change everything now. It might be a case where the best clubs with the highest-paid stars continue to get richer, while the other teams struggle to maintain their relevance. But let me know what you think—especially if you read the Der Spiegel report or follow European football. My email address is [email protected] and you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter with the user name PlainEnglishPod.

It’s time to say hello to a few listeners. Elsa is listening from Taiwan and studying for the IELTS exam—I bet you have lots of company in this audience. That’s an important test and we wish you the best of luck. Leandro is a pilot in Brazil and he commutes an hour and a half to get to work in Sao Paulo—ouch! Good thing he has some good English entertainment to keep him company on Mondays and Thursdays, right? He said he listens to a lot of podcasts, which is great to hear. Mario from Fortaleza, Brazil, recently finished his Ph.D. in water treatment and management. Rodrigo is a doctor from Sao Paulo, Paulina is in HR (human resources) in the Mexican state of Aguascalientes. Big hello and thanks to all of your for listening.

One more listener is probably by now in New Zealand—wow! That would be Malgorzata from Warsaw, Poland. She wrote me a lovely note saying she listens all the time and just really likes the pace of the program, and repeats things out loud after I say them. That’s a good way to gain some confidence with your speech. Malgorzata is going to New Zealand for work and she will be installing a big landscape exhibition there. So thank you for your kind note and good luck in New Zealand.

¿Hablas español?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into Spanish. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

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Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

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Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

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你说中国话?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parlez-vous français?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Você fala português?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

日本語は話せますか?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parli italiano?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sen Türkçe konuşmayı biliyor musun?

The transcripts of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Turkish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Mówisz po polsku?

The transcript of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Polish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

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