April 19th, 2021 will forever be known as the day when football rivalries were set to one side and for once, fans, pundits, politicians and royalty, united as one to try and save football as we know and love it…
Who would’ve thought that British football would end up somewhat resembling a party from the Great Gatsby, where only the richest people received personal invitations to the glamourous parties, and the poor? Well, it doesn’t matter about them because they haven’t got as much money, so why would we invite them?
It sounds crazy, but this is sadly the reality of the elitist mentality of football club owners across Europe right now.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – simultaneously jeopardised the future of English football when they accepted their invitations to the ‘European Super League’, alongside AC Milan, Atlético de Madrid, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC and Real Madrid CF, while Super League Chairmen are still deciding which other clubs have enough stored cash to bag themselves one of the remaining three invites. Though, after the widespread backlash the Super League has received, I’m not sure any club in the world will be jumping at the chance to accept the invite should they be *un*lucky enough to get one.
It appears that the history associated with each of the ‘Big 6’ clubs has been picked up and thrown down the drain in exchange for an enormous £3.5 billion they’ll receive for being labelled ‘Founding Clubs’ of the League.
Norway Manager, Ståle Solbakken, summed it up perfectly when he said, “in recent years, Juventus have been knocked out by Lyon, Porto and Ajax in the Champions League. Why should they be in such a tournament then? Tottenham and Arsenal are currently probably not, among the 20-30 best teams in Europe“.
The harsh reality is, this isn’t called the ‘Super League’ because it’s made up of the best teams in Europe, because if it was, Leicester and West Ham would be in and amongst the teams involved, based on performances this year. Instead, this is nothing less than excessively rich, American businessmen turning a sport enriched with history into pure entertainment that will generate revenue to feed their already overflowing pockets.
It is a complete lack of understanding of the sporting culture in the country.
This feels all the more distasteful after the world has faced some of the most financially testing times in history, where lower-division teams have furloughed staff and players and grassroots sports teams have had all money sucked out of them.
Those non-league teams who dream of playing against the big clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool, will not only have them shattered, but will also have the money from broadcasting that carries them through the season, taken away, leaving them scrambling for survival.
Those clubs who strive for promotion to the Premier League will no longer have that dream to compete against the best teams in the country, to aim for.
The nerve-wracking point at the end of the season where our eyes are firmly fixated on the race for the top four and the relegation battle will be meaningless – because once you’re in the Super League, you don’t have to worry about relegation.
As Leeds Manager, Marcelo Bielsa, said in his post-match interview tonight, “It shouldn’t surprise us. In all walks of life the powerful look after their own and don’t worry about the rest of us.” Sadly, he speaks nothing but the truth.
For me, I have no interest in watching Manchester United play weekly games against the likes of Madrid or Juventus. Those ‘European nights’ will turn from something that every fan cherished and labelled as some of the best nights of their life, to just another game in an overhaul of fixtures. I live for the underdogs putting on their shirts, playing for the badge and showing that they are good enough to beat some of the biggest teams in the world.
Amidst all of the drama surrounding this, one thing is clear. Those responsible for this break away league have not taken into consideration the feelings of football fans across the world who will be impacted by this decision. What happened to ‘football is nothing without the fans’? – it may turn out that all of those involved in the Super League will realise that sooner or later (should it go ahead).
As the chaos continues to unfold over the coming days, I hope to see more players, managers and pundits speaking out on this issue in an attempt to stop the proposal going through. Only time will tell whether we’ll be waving goodbye to the adored Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup – but I hope that won’t be the case.
With that, I’ll leave you with a quote from one of Manchester United’s leading voices.
“Dreams can’t be bought” – Bruno Fernandes
And how right he is!