Apart from the famous English Premier League, Europe also plays host to a number of other football leagues that are famous the world over. These can vary from major competitions such as the German Bundesliga or La Liga in Spain to smaller competitions between local clubs that help to make sure that grassroots football is kept alive and well.
Football leagues and TV rights
It may not seem obvious to football newcomers, but one of the main ways in which football leagues make their money isn’t through ticket sales or merchandising but through selling TV rights to their games.
Europe’s major leagues make billions of pounds every year from the sale of these rights, and even smaller leagues such as the SPFL in Scotland make a very significant amount of revenue from TV companies.
When these leagues were first established, there were fears that showing games on television would reduce the number of fans who turned up to watch games in person.
These fears have not been proven. However, the audience for football matches has changed. This is because prices have gone up, making it difficult for less well off or less committed fans to attend games.
The future of football leagues
In early 2021, a number of Europe’s major clubs announced plans to form a European Super League. Under the proposals, clubs would break away from the existing UEFA structure to play their own games of European club football.
The plan was instantly derided by fans and collapsed within days of being announced. While this type of European club competition has long been popular with leagues, teams, and their owners, it lacks crucial support from fans and governments.
The strength of the backlash around the European Super League proposals is likely to make it very difficult for clubs to launch a similar project anytime soon.
This means that clubs are likely to be confined to the existing structure, and with evidence mounting that TV rights will not continue to increase in value in the way that they have over the last few decades, this could be a problem.
Many clubs have taken on significant amounts of debt in order to keep up with their rivals and afford the skyrocketing wages that players in European leagues are able to demand. If TV revenues do not increase as expected, many football clubs could find that they have a very difficult season ahead.