Eighteen months later and the European Super League may be proving itself a watershed moment for football after all - just not the one its' architects intended.

The ill-advised, ill-received and ultimately doomed attempt at creating a closed-shop continental competition to usurp the Champions League is possibly the most high profile collective failure in the history of the game. In April 2021, should you need reminding, a group of clubs led by Juventus, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, and also including Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Inter, attempted to found a new tournament intended, allegedly, to "save football at this critical moment". It was about as transparent a sales pitch as you could possibly imagine, but I've never quite been able to decide whether arrogance or delusion was its primary driver. Either way, there was a certain irony in that plenty of football fans were, and still are, disillusioned with how UEFA run European club football.

But there was little chance they would ever be fooled by a cynical cash/power grab lazily dressed up as revolution. And so they took to the streets. In the face of intense protests, the project spectacularly collapsed in the blink of an eye as club after club sheepishly backed out.

To date, only Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona remain attached to the ESL, and they could yet try to revive it if a legal challenge against UEFA and FIFA, set to be heard at the European Court of Justice on December 15, proves successful. The rebel trio's stance is that the governing bodies' opposition breaches EU competition law. But the resignation of Andrea Agnelli, a key ESL driving force, along with the entire Juventus board last week places its' resurrection in further doubt. The Juventus chief-executive stepped down amid allegations of financial irregularities, an accusation to which Serie A's Old Lady are no strangers. His departure makes Juve the latest ESL club to enter a period of upheaval. Since its inception and collapse, Chelsea have changed hands, Manchester United are up for sale, so too, it seems, are Liverpool. Barcelona's financial woes are all too well documented, and they are no doubt only enjoying a break from daily headlines until the transfer window opens once more.

Juventus, though, appear to have mired themselves in perhaps the biggest mess of all. Agnelli and his entire board of directors chose to walk amid an investigation into their financial records surrounding salary payments deferred during the Covid-19. The bombshell development coincided with a sudden plummet in Juve's financial and sporting performance - they finished fourth in Serie A last term and posted £220m in losses, the highest ever for an Italian club.

Pair this with Barcelona's ongoing strife, the owners of United and Liverpool choosing to sell up so soon after their ESL ambitions went up in smoke, and you begin to suspect that these things all happening in the wake of the project collapsing is no coincidence. These clubs can bang on about rescuing football all they like, but you'd probably have respected them more if they'd just been up front and confessed the idea was all about maximising revenue for themselves. All of them are revered among the traditional heavyweights of Europe, but it is becoming harder and harder to compete at the elite end of the club game and, like pretty much everything else in football, it can be traced back to money.

It was reported that the sheer scale of the task that is competing with Abu Dhabi-bankrolled Manchester City was a factor in Fenway Sports Group's decision to stick up the for sale sign at Anfield. Over the last decade, City's net transfer spend is a staggering £965m compared to Liverpool's £338m. They have almost matched them pound for pound in the past five years, something suspect the owners feel is unsustainable. When you consider Newcastle United now have the might of the Saudi Arabia Investment Fund at their back, you begin to realise why these clubs were so keen to pull up the ladder on European football. Newcastle have gone from battling relegation to competing for a Champions League place in less than a year, and it feels inevitable they will be challenging for the Premier League title before long.

The reality is that in order to keep pace with this, clubs must be prepared to invest inordinate amounts of money, sums which most just are not prepared to part with. Juventus, however, were. Their current crisis can be traced back to over £430m of transfer investment that hasn't yielded its desired outcome - the Champions League trophy. That's money spent even before the £86m acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo, and £38m of it went on signing and paying Aaron Ramsey, for which they got less than 50 appearances. Barcelona have also spent themselves into a blackhole, largely thanks to a wage bill that cleared £241m and eventually cost them Lionel Messi.

You'd be correct to point out that neither of the two primary clubs funded by petrostate dollars, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, neither have yet won the Champions League. But they have taken transfer spending to another level, with only the notorious basket case at Old Trafford having a higher net spend over the last 10 years. Clubs such as Juventus and Barcelona have toiled to keep pace and the ESL, although it would've of course included City and PSG, would have offered the chance to rake in as much as £400m in prize money alone, plus further untold millions in sponsorship and TV money. As the chickens now come home to roost, it's little wonder why they're so reluctant to let the idea go.