I wanted to write this blog post much earlier, just after watching how the ambitious Atlético destroyed the apathetic Chelsea by 4-1 in the match for the European Super Cup in Monaco on 31st August. However, I was always busy with other less or more important things and failed to do so :( Now I have the necessary time, I am sitting in the comfortable armchair on my balcony, enjoying the warm Bulgarian sun, drinking delicious coffee, having a written skype conversation with a nice girl on non-football topics and working hard on this blog post :) And, of course, I am following the live scores from around the world! German Bundesliga games, featuring the megahit Schalke – Bayern, started 15 minutes ago. OK, let’s end this lyrical digression and focus on the job :)
I am sure that some of you have watched the above mentioned game but I am not sure whether the number of those who watched is high, taking into consideration what is the image of the match between the winners of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. Theoretically, the European Super Cup should be an extremely prestigious trophy. In fact, I think it is quite the opposite. Unfortunately, the UEFA Super Cup match, which always features many great players, is often underestimated by the teams, lacks the atmosphere of a big final and looks like an ordinary preseason friendly meeting :(
The current sad state is mainly due to the poor attitude of the Champions League winners who are usually stronger on paper than their Europa League counterparts but often play with no motivation and as a result leave the pitch defeated. Since the Super Cup is decided in one game in Monaco (since 1998), the Champions League victors suffered 9 losses and managed to win only 6 times against theoretically weaker opponents.
Chelsea and their lackluster performance against Atlético are a proof of my words. We all saw how the 2011/12 European champion, strengthened in the summer transfer window with such fantastic offensive players as Eden Hazard and Oscar, was completely demolished by the hot Spanish team. It is unbelievable but Atlético’s superstar striker Radamel Falcao was doing whatever he wanted with the helpless rivals (defensive block featuring David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanović and Ashley Cole), and scored a hat-trick, hit the crossbar and the post in the first half only! I have said this in the past but I will say it again: “Hats off to the Colombian killer!”
Of course, Atlético deserve utmost respect for their inspirational performance and Chelsea should be rightfully criticised for the terrible things they did on the pitch in that August evening. If the Champions League winners continue to approach the Super Cup in a similar manner, more and more football fans will be avoiding this match. It is not surprising that the last match was attended by 14,312 spectators only. Considering the fact that Stade Louis II has a capacity of 18,523, it means that almost 23% of the seats were empty. Having two big teams with so many star players in a match for a major European Cup with a 40-year tradition and failing to fill such a small stadium is not something that makes the UEFA marketing experts proud. Guys, how are you not able to sell 15,000 tickets for such an event?!? This is really strange for me! Your website uefa.com (I am a big fan of it and set it as a homepage on my computer) attracts around 100,000 unique visitors per day and the Super Cup match was one of the main topics in the final days of August.
Moreover, I checked the TV ratings on the website of the British newspaper The Guardian. It turned out that, in the football-crazy Great Britain, the Super Cup match featuring a very popular club from London averaged only 2.1 million viewers on ITV1 and a 9.9% audience share between 7.30pm and 10.10pm. For example, the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Real Madrid and Manchester City on Tuesday 18th September had an average of 4.7 million viewers on ITV1 and a 20.1% audience share between 7.30pm and 10.10pm. In order to show you how huge the gap between the UEFA Super Cup match and the really big games is, I will also attach the UEFA EURO 2012 quarterfinal between England and Italy as an example. On Tuesday 24th June, from 7pm to 10.45pm, the full coverage of this match had an average of 17.4 million viewers and a 62.3% audience share on BBC1.
We see that that number of the viewers who watched Chelsea – Atlético in England was not very high. And we should not forget that the interest in the UEFA Super Cup match in England and Spain was higher than elsewhere in Europe due to the fact that these two countries had their representatives playing for the trophy.
To summarize, I will say that for so many years UEFA have been struggling to shape a proper image of the European Super Cup and position the match for this trophy in the minds of the football fans as an attractive and prestigious event. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that the Super Cup match is only an occasion for the high-profile football people to meet and have a nice party in the glamorous Monaco.
I have no doubts that the governing body of European football should change its marketing strategy for the Super Cup if they want to keep the idea of the Dutch journalist Anton Witkamp alive! Awarding the match to different European cities as from next year is only the first step in the right direction.
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