The Africa Super League mystery

Patrice Motsepe

Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Patrice Motsepe (centre) delivers the opening address during the opening ceremony of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) tournament at Stade d'Olembé in Yaounde on January 9, 2022.
 

Photo credit: Kenzo Tribouillard AFP

What you need to know:

  • The African Super League, coming on the heels of the failed European Super League, was launched by Caf last week and is scheduled to start in the 2023-24 campaign, running from August to May.
  • As compared to the European Super League, this one will be based on sporting merit with promotion and relegation. The format will see 197 matches played, leading to a 'Super Bowl-like' final.

In Kampala

KCCA vice-chairman Aggrey Ashaba, like a number of African football stakeholders, welcomes the millions of dollars being talked about by Caf president Patrice Motsepe and his boss at Fifa, Gianni Infantino, for the new Africa Super League.

Although no one can point exactly to where the money will come from - yet, the thought of $1m to each of the 54 African federations every year, an annual $2.5m for each of the 24 clubs that will play in the Super League, and $11.6m for the winner every season just turns your head.

Yet questions of what the Super League - expected to start next year in August - means for the future of the Caf Champions League, which competitions Caf and Fifa are adamant will run alongside each other, remain.

“We all want that money,” Ashaba told NTV Uganda Sport Knights on Monday night, “but for me it’s more of financial doping.

“Have we grown our football organically, like in Europe, where you have; say, 70,000 spectators in a stadium every match day and, and several millions watching on TV?

“What exactly are we selling? Empty stadiums? Of course you will have North African clubs fill their stadiums every week, it is because they have grown their football organically and the mode of transport within their region is not as complicated as the rest of Africa.”

In a rejoinder to Daily Monitor, Ashaba added: “Of course we wait to see the finer details of the whole plan. Right now what we are discussing is from the little information we have.

“It is those rich clubs that will be further made richer because they will be in that Super League and getting that $2.5m every year… So the gap can only get bigger.”

Who gets to play in the Super League will be determined by clubs coefficient points in the preceding period.

Alternative view

Asked how best the same millions being talked about can still come into the game but without diluting the Champions League, Ashaba offered this advice.

“Retouch the existing structures within the game and attract the same finances. That way, the game organically gets stronger, the existing competitions become more attractive.

“Give the same money to the clubs and in 10 years, African football can be what the Super League wants to achieve. But like I said, we wait and see. Right now, we are only working with limited information on how the whole thing will work.”

The African Super League, coming on the heels of the failed European Super League, was launched by Caf last week and is scheduled to start in the 2023-24 campaign, running from August to May.

As compared to the European Super League, this one will be based on sporting merit with promotion and relegation. The format will see 197 matches played, leading to a 'Super Bowl-like' final.

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What they said

"The Africa Super League is a completely different proposition than what was proposed in Europe, which was a kind of a breakaway thing outside of the structures. This is done within the structure within Caf, within Fifa, within the football pyramid structure.," Gianni Infantino, Fifa president.

My objective is to get money for football infrastructure, for players, club owners, stakeholders. We are talking about anything between $250m to $300m every year," Patrice Motsepe, Caf president.

"This is going to change the face of African football as we know it in terms of investment, exposure and marketing overall," Barbara Gonzalez, Simba SC CEO.

Numbers

$250-300m - Projected annual revenues by the Super League

$100m - Total prize money per year

$11.6m - Money paid out to Super League winner

$2.5m - Amount each of the 24 participating clubs will get per year

$1m - Amount to each member association annually

24 - Clubs to play in the Super League


Potential Super League benefits

  • More money available to clubs, Caf and member associations
  •  Wider TV broadcasting, thus right exposure for African players and higher transfer fees
  • More football played
  • More money to youth and women football
  • Incentive for infrastructural development

Concerns emerging from the Super League

  • Future of Caf Champions league uncertain as it will play second fiddle
  • Gap between richer and powerful clubs and the weak likely to increase further
  • Calendar (fixtures) going to be a headache for clubs, especially with complicated transport and visa systems on the continent
  • An eye could be taken off of domestic leagues

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