Should football and Motorsport ever cross paths?
To a distant observer, football and motorsport must appear fairly similar. Both typically high paced, competitive and – at a high level – high budget.
Superstar names come from the elite series – F1, MotoGP, Nascar, WRC etc. in motorsport, and the Premiership, Serie A, Bundesliga etc. over on the pitch.
Both are seeing rapid growth in female participation after decades of male dominance at the sharp end, and both can boast massive live spectator turnouts.
But is there really that much of a crossover?
We see link-ups occasionally, Chelsea and Sauber recently became friends for example, but they’re often short lived. For some reason, the partnership is usually fairly awkward.
The fans of each discipline are equally passionate and many are fans of both a motorsport team and a football team, some only love one, but rarely are people accepting of a link-up between ‘their’ team and a team in the other sport.
I doubt many Sauber fans became Chelsea fans just because of that relationship – nor vice versa.
One series, however, existed to push this perceived similarity of an audience as far as possible – the Superleague Formula (SF).
The premise appeared simple. Identical carbon fibre-tubbed, slick-tyred race cars (which were, to be fair, quite quick, with 750bhp V12 engines screaming and bodywork much closer to F1 than your typical everyday race car down at Cadwell Park). The lap times were not incredibly impressive, though – at Monza ten years ago the F1 crowd was treated to lap times around 1:23, whereas the fastest lap for a Superleague Formula car at the same track that yearwas 1:36.444.
The ultimate speed was not as impressive as the names on the car either – familiar football clubs like AC Milan, Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven – who were used to being much closer to the pinnacle of their sport.
The first season, 2008, was won by a fairly unknown football team, Beijing Guoan, a car driven by Italian Davide Rigon. It would appear that the big names in football were not necessarily going to be the big names in SF.
This didn’t seem to impress fans, and neither did the fact the cars were run by teams with no real connection to the football club it was representing. The drivers were usually from a completely different country, for a start.
The series lasted for a few years, and featured some fairly familiar names such as Bourdais, Doornbos and Karthikeyan, but died off when nobody really cared any more. In 2011, football teams started to disassociate themselves with the race teams and a lot of the cars were run as ‘countries’ rather than football clubs. It didn’t survive beyond 2011.
Was this a stretch too far? Too abstract a link? Well in both 2009 and 2010 Spurs finished 2nd in the championship standings, which I’m reliably informed is fairly typical.
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