The European Super League. What a reaction that created. How articulate was Gary Neville on Sky Sports yesterday in the midst of his anger?
It seems that the world of football and outside of football are against this daring elitism… until a Manchester United fan on the BBC Northern Ireland news showed the sad and inevitable chink, “I am sorry but I will support them wherever they are playing.” That might be the most honest response. We’ll come back to it.
MONEY RUNNING THE GAME IS NOT NEW
Sadly, this didn’t happen overnight. Money has been ruining the game for decades. I remember my father pointing a finger at United trying to buy the League back in 1972 when they spent a fortune on Ian Storey-Moore. Comedian Mike Yarwood put it better - “We didn’t need Ian Moore, we needed nine more.”
Chelsea and more recently City have been accused of buying success. Who can doubt that it has helped. Not me. Money has pretty much limited the potential winners of the Premier League to three teams. It is why we were so excited when Leicester City won it without all the money in 2016. Having said that there was an injection of money into Leicester after 2009 when they were two divisions down.
Let us make no mistake that the big money in football argument was lost decades ago. Leicester City was a blip. I long for the 70s when a QPR or Burnley or Derby could have given it a good go but in 2021 for most teams to compete for Premiership titles they need big money investment.
FOOTBALL IS ONLY A MICROCOSM OF CAPITALISM THAT NEEDS TO BE MORE ACCOUNTABLE
This is no different than what is happening in our wider society. Super Markets have been putting butchers and bakers and candlestick makers out of business for 50 years.
As Bob Dylan sang “Money doesn’t talk it swears.” The Mafia don’t use guns any more they use the Stock Exchange. The rich have been getting richer and the poor poorer for a long time.
The Bible has warned against such greed for millennia. I am simply amazed that a Super League and not Super Markets caused the most reaction!
IT IS NO LONGER AN ENGLISH GAME
Most of the talk in the past 24 hours has been very England-centric. It has all been about the damage done to the long history of the game and the tier system and finances dripping down to the grass roots.
I agree with all that and the damage that will be done BUT the owners of our big soccer clubs do not come from or live in England. It is not only the system that they do not get; it is the tradition.
The European Super League seems to me to be very much a model taken from all American Sport. American Football, Baseball, Ice Hockey and Basketball, even Soccer are based on Super Leagues. It is a different tradition and very much a different economic model. That is what the owners are used to and honed by.
They also see that the TV viewing numbers are bigger than the numbers at stadiums. If they lost the local Manchester fan base who all went off to support Stockport County they could get millions more in China or wherever. It is a world game, not an English game.
Finally, on this one. The Premier League is the only interesting league in the world. Ask Rangers and Celtic fans about a European Super League and how they would love it. Italy, Spain and France too. They didn’t have the same fascination and competition as the English Premiership. Then if English teams don’t enter how will they entice the top players to England. That is a dilemma!
THE FANS NEED TO PUT THEIR ACTIONS WHERE THEIR MOUTHS ARE
The fans have spouted enough opposition. The action will be much more difficult. Will these angry disgusted fans, myself included, follow through or end up like our Northern Irish United supporter and cave in to whatever?
It is very difficult to change allegiances after 50 years of grief and joy, reading and memory collecting. When that club is in your own city, even harder.
Yet, fans need to act. Is that boycotting? Maybe not watching on TV and stop buying shirts. Or literally changing clubs. It will very difficult.
THE PLAYERS AND MANAGERS HAVE DECISIONS TO MAKE TOO
We haven’t yet heard from players and managers. Certainly they have been thrown into it and it is not their fault. There are all kinds of wild suggestions about them being banned from World Cups etc.
Whatever, they have decisions to make. When it is your financial future and career that is tricky but maybe showing the intention of not re-signing after contracts end would make a point. Would they then be willing to take a pay cut and play for Everton, West Ham or Leeds? Players and managers are being unfairly tested too.
It will be interesting to see what happens. I suggest that this needs more thought than just whether this Super League goes ahead or not. Soccer needs to look at itself and into its soul and ask some questions that have been ignored for too long but have now rumbled up and exploded in the sport’s face.
Me too. The League Cup on Sunday has lost its shine, the Premier league too and as for that European thing… Can I really at 59 after… 52 years… fall deeply in love with another club. I have also, for over 50 years, followed Plymouth Argyle though!