The following entry is a record in the “Catalogue of Catastrophe” – a list of failed or troubled projects from around the world.
Organization: Super League
Project type : Establishment of a new professional sports league
Project name : Super League
Date : Apr 2021
Cost : Unknown
The public announcement of a new project can be a significant milestone. It’s an opportunity to draw media attention and generate some buzz about an upcoming product. When done well it leaves the target stakeholders intrigued and eager for launch day to come.
Sadly, this week’s launch of the new European soccer super-league earns it a nomination for the millennium’s worst launch. With fanfare, twelve of Europe’s top soccer teams announced they were forming a new league. The plan was made public on 18th Apr 2021, but sinking like the proverbial lead balloon, the idea lasted just 2 days before being kicked to the curb!
According to reporting from the BBC: “The idea was for the clubs to remain in their national leagues, but also to play each other in a new midweek European competition, which would have rivalled the Champions League. The ESL would have had 20 teams, of which 15 founding members would be permanent and never face relegation. Five other sides would qualify each year.”
Such a plan triggered concern from fans, governing bodies and even at the highest levels of European governments. One immediate concern was the teams who can’t be relegated to a lower league would result in less competition and chip away at the very heart of the merit based system upon which European soccer has been based for more than a hundred years: Teams that win rise up through the leagues. Teams who lose drop down.
The negative reaction seems to have come as a surprise to those behind the project. The billionaire owners of the teams were left embarrassed and spurned. Speaking via video to the fans of Liverpool FC, owner John Henry said
“I want to apologise to all the supporters of Liverpool football club … it should be said the project was never going to stand a chance without the support of fans … over the past 48 hours you were very clear it would not stand – we heard you. I heard you. I’m sorry … I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days. It’s something I won’t forget and shows the power the fans have today and will rightly continue to have.”
Henry is indeed right and the project should act as a reminder to all those in the executive suit: Oftentimes the most important decision makers aren’t in the room – That is the consumers.
Contributing factors as reported in the press:
Failure to engage stakeholders or anticipate their reaction. Decisions made in the vacuum of the boardroom. Lack of change management.
- Super League: Why have the plans collapsed?
- European Super League: All six Premier League teams withdraw from competition