The notion of a Super League seems to have long since been put on the back burner, but former super agent, Jon Smith, believes that the powerbrokers in Saudi Arabia might well be able to buy their influence by resurrecting it.
For anyone that wants to dismiss that as ‘pie in the sky,’ it’s worth remembering that Cristiano Ronaldo was mocked a year ago for suggesting that the Saudi Pro League would soon become one of the world’s best.
In the space of 12 months from the Portuguese’s arrival, the Pro League has now become a viable option for players.
Though many are aged 30+, there have been a few notable exceptions, and as the league continues to grow, more and more players will be considering the Middle Eastern destination as a potential stop off in their footballing career.
It does seem, however, that Saudi chiefs have a lot more business to be done in the footballing arena than just at a domestic level.
‘Are the Saudis going to be able to powerhouse themselves into football? They can do it in boxing, hosting various world championship fights and anything else that they might fancy with the kind of money they have behind them. In football, are they going to be the new instigator of a Super League because once they’ve got their own league going…’ former super agent and co-creator of the Premier League, Jon Smith, wrote in his exclusive CaughtOffside column.
‘[…] If I was UEFA and FIFA I’d be getting a little bit concerned. Let’s say the Saudi league wants to expand itself and wants to entertain a global league every year… they go to Manchester United and say here’s a billion pounds and they do that to the 10 best teams around the world – they’ve bought themselves a Super League because very few people are gonna turn that down.
‘What happens when FIFA try and say ‘right, you’re all out of football?’ Look what happened in golf. The PGA threatened everyone, stood up and made lots of noise and then LIV bought them because they could. My final point on this is that Gianna Infantino (FIFA President) has a home in Qatar. He’s also got a lovely home in Switzerland and I’m sure Qatar is a beautiful place to live, but the Middle Eastern powerhouses are the only other people that could challenge a dynamic as we’ve just described.’
The landscape of football has certainly changed immeasurably over the past few months, and there are parallels to be made from when the Premier League itself was changing the dynamics of English football.
Progress takes many forms and though there is likely to be push back, as Smith notes, all of the noise seems futile.