There is a story in football circles that when a Premier League club was bought by an overseas investor in the late 2000s the new owners were unaware of the concept of relegation. Within a couple of seasons their new club had suffered just that - relegation.
When news broke yesterday of yet another attempt to launch a European Super League I was reminded of this story. It was no surprise to me that Liverpool and Manchester United were yet again driving this concept in England. I think this is less down to the fact that they are the two most successful clubs, and the most supported globally. For me, the common denominator is that they both have American owners.
The difference in the style of ownership is stark and clear to see. In one city the owners are probably regarded as liberators that have returned a club to its full glory. In the other, the very opposite is probably the view held by many supporters. And while on the pitch their competition is fierce, off the field, their co-operation is clear to see.
The establishment of a European Super League could be a further Americanization of European football. While details are still emerging, one thing this new league could do is remove the threat of relegation. This would effectively "close" the league and make it operate more like the NFL, MLB, MBA or MLS.
This is the crucial difference between US and European sports leagues and shifts the bargaining power from players and supporters towards owners. The European super league would likely become an monopsony (own buyer of talent) and not punish entrants with the threat of relegation. The recently failed 'Project Big Picture', whilst not eliminating relegation, had argued that it should be reduced to just 2 teams in season in the EPL.
Take Luton Town for example. Since 2004-05 the club has enjoyed 4 promotions but has also experienced 3 relegations. The table to the right explains this.
At the start of the 2005/06 season Luton played in the 2nd highest tier of English Football (The Championship). The club then experienced three successive relegations, to League One, League Two, and in 2008/09 the Conference Premier Division (outside of the Football League).
However, over the course of the past decade, the club has managed to make it back to the second tier of English football, just one tier away from the English Premier League. The revenue and resources that are on offer from reaching the Premier League are motivation enough to keep clubs like Luton Town dreaming.
I am sure this was as strong as ever during the years 2009-2013 when the club wasn't even playing in the Football League.
If Luton ever reach the ELP, what a turn around that will be. A European Super League - without promotion or relegation - would limit the possibilities of most clubs. While great for the lucky few, it would kill the dream for most. That's not European football and it never has been.