by Paul Embery
Monday, 19
April 2021
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The European Super League shames the people’s game

The plan violates the spirit and ethos of the sport
by Paul Embery
Any player taking part in this league should be forbidden from representing his national side

If someone had sat down to devise a plan to unite millions of usually-partisan football fans across Europe, they would have been hard-pressed to come up with anything better. My social media feeds are filled with diehard supporters spitting tacks at the proposal for a breakaway European Super League. These include fans of the six English clubs involved in the caper. They have been joined in their fury by pretty much everyone else involved in the game, from its authorities to high-profile former players and pundits. Even presidents and prime ministers have got in on the act.

These individuals and groups see the proposal for what it is: a cynical and unashamed attempt by billionaire owners to generate ever more colossal sums of wealth for their clubs by creating a closed shop at the top of football.

Make no mistake, the plan violates the very spirit and ethos of the sport — of any sport. For all its flaws and inequities, one of the beauties of football remains that there is no ceiling on how far a team might rise or fall. There is always something to strive for, always the potential that a club scratching around in the lower reaches of the game might one day find itself pitting its wits against the highest and mightiest — or indeed the reverse.

Witness, for example, the meteoric rise of Wimbledon from non-league minnows in 1977 to FA Cup holders and top-flight outfit a little over a decade later, or my own team Wolverhampton Wanderers’ slump from Division One illustriousness to Division Four obscurity in successive seasons during that same period. Eat away at that dynamism and unpredictability, and the very essence of the game is threatened.

There are no legitimate football reasons which compel Europe’s elite clubs to create this kind of uncompetitive competition. Teams that are good enough will, under the current structure, always enjoy their fair share of opportunities to compete against the cream of other nations.

Instead, this proposal is driven by naked commercialism and the greed of those looking for a guarantee of regular lucrative pay days, regardless of whether their team’s performances on the pitch merit it, and no matter the impact on the wider game.

Their actions shame the game — the ‘people’s game’, as we like to call it. In response, nothing less than the most exemplary measures will do. Any club participating in the new league should be banned from its own domestic league, and any player taking part forbidden from representing his national side. That is what they deserve for putting money before morality.

Many fans are sick of being fleeced, of witnessing foreign oligarchs and tycoons acquiring their clubs and using them as personal playthings without regard for the wishes of those who have sustained them, often over a lifetime, with support from the terraces. There is speculation that the so-called ‘German model’ — which ensures a club’s fans maintain a controlling stake — will be implemented in British football. It cannot come soon enough.

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Robert Routledge
Robert Routledge
1 year ago

If UEFA and FIFA are so concerned about the ordinary football fan why is the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar?

Carl Goulding
Carl Goulding
1 year ago

Diversity, inclusion and corruption

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
1 year ago

Sorry to say but I’ve heard these responses so many times. When the PL was created, when the Champions League was expanded. Everyone seems to swear blind that they’ll never watch football again if this happens, then when it does, viewing figures go up anyway.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matthew Powell
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Spot on.
This is just a logical step along a well established continuum.
In reality, it’s main result would be that the money that UEFA and FIFA were ‘planning to pocket” ends up going to the clubs involved.
The effect would be on the Champions League bubble – not grass roots football.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Barton
Bertie B
Bertie B
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

I’m not a fan of football – in fact I’m frequently bemused by peoples obsession with it, please don’t try and explain it – I’ve heard them all and its still a form of mental illness in my mind. Having said that even I can see why this is differnt, a predominantly closed league where the instigators allow a few other teams to join them, is a money grab.
Banning them from other leagues would be foolish – the money would go after them to the new Super League, the best players would end up playing for teams in the new League because (as now) they would be able to offer far more money.
The solution to the football / money problem – assuming people don;t mystically overcome their collective mental illnesses and stop paying money, silly money, to see a bunch of people kick a ball round a field – has got to be national oversight, perhapes changing the transfer rules (no transfers mid season) would help a bit, but ultimatally taxing them, taxing the player saleries, controlling TV rights – let the BBC (as our broadcaster of national events and payed for by all of us) film and broadcast the matches for free, live.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

It has not been ‘the people’s game’ for some decades. As such, and one of the ‘people’, I decided as long ago as 1996 not to put any more money into English football.

John Lewis
John Lewis
1 year ago

When Leicester City, owned by a relative pauper whose personal wealth was barely $5 billion, won the Premier League it was treated as akin to David beating Goliath.

The “big six” clubs are either super-rich mans hobbies (Chelsea) or equally rich mans investments (Arsenal).

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
1 year ago
Reply to  John Lewis

I have Supported by Local Club leicester City since 1960..in “2016 these Same 6 Franchises Arsenal (Wenger opinied They’ll be out in First round,We got to QF) Spurs (No Championship since 1960/61) Chelsea Manchester United,Manchester City,Liverpool Tried to block Our entering european Competition for first time since 2000…These Greedy Franchised Clubs Owned by Arabs,Russian oligarch,American baseball owners Do Not consider fans at all.. Teams like Wolverhampton ,West Ham,Southampton who finish in TOP4 could end up the Same As Leicester,Well run &taking babysteps to increasing training ground, increase capacity etc..

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
1 year ago

What guff. Football is a business. If certain businesses wish to change their operating system, let them. The customer will either support it and the business prospers, or they won’t and the business fails.

Either way politicians should keep out.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
1 year ago

If they were playing in the back garden I’d draw the curtains.

z4rwrshs4d
z4rwrshs4d
1 year ago

If you have to go back 40 years to find an example of a small outsider winning a major trophy, then you know your case is not the strongest.
Truth is the gap between the big ones and the rest is only getting wider, Super League or not. Next step could be World League, with teams like Boca Juniors joining in.
Local competitions could become less predictable again if the big ones moved out.
If anyone regrets it’s only about the money these days, that’s understandable but a bit late, I guess.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
1 year ago
Reply to  z4rwrshs4d

Yep most I agree, FA Cup shocks in last 43 Years Wimbledon beat Liverpool, 1988 , Ipswich beat arsenal in 1978 Wigan beat Manchester city 2013…….leicester’s premiership 2016 ..could become with Teams like Everton,West ham utd,Wolverhampton challenge Scre* this 6 ..Like property developers ,Chinese Pension funds tell to Foxtrot Oscar

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
1 year ago

How people in the entertainment business organise their offering to TV companies is surely their business. If the fans don’t like it, they should stop watching it. If they cared about sport they’d support their local town team. They tend not to.

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
1 year ago

It’s not as if any of the teams selected are ever in danger of being relegated.
The truth is that the Premier League, due to a combination of Var, kneeling, endless foreign players and empty stadiums is unwatchable drivel.
The Champions League, specifically contrived to keep the “big teams” apart so they can make more money, is garbage that no-one really watches until the semi-final or final.
So why not, another meaningless round of games, played by foreign, multi-millionaire mercenaries representing teams that have been completely unanchored from their traditional locus and support.
To be honest, if the ban VAR I’ll watch it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sidney Falco
George Bruce
George Bruce
1 year ago

All six English teams are basically owned by foreigners. And no wonder with all that monetary potential.
In the UK we are more and more being run by outsiders in so many ways. What the hell has happened to us?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
1 year ago
Reply to  George Bruce

Simply Lib-lab-Cons-Green-SNP are Globalists& EU fanatics Globalists,Cheapest & most profits above morals,environmental damage..Allow sell out of uK Manufacturing to india

Stewart Slater
Stewart Slater
1 year ago

Attacking the ESL as a greedy attempt to form a monopoly ignores the fact that football is a greedy monopoly already. There is one supplier of professional football in each country, and one organiser of European tournaments. The smaller clubs survive by extracting payments which they have not earned from the larger, more successful teams. The ESL is an attempt to create increased competition and (possibly) reduce the unearned share given to the smaller clubs. Predictably, those who depend on extracting rent from the larger clubs are up in arms that football might take place without them getting a cut.
There is, to the best of my knowledge, no human right to have a football club you support, still less any right for that club to play a specific list of opponents. That you may identify as a supporter places no more onus on it to play in the competitions you prefer than your pride in shopping at Waitrose forces it to stock your favourite brand of hummus. Unless you have bought shares, the amount of money you have spent gives you no more right to direct the club than a collector of Ferraris has to choose their next F1 driver. The clubs were bought in a legitimate way by the owners and, if they choose to deploy them in a particular fashion, that is their right. Insisting that the property rights of the owners be overturned in favour of the not famously clean UEFA is an odd moral hill to die on. If you do not like the actions of the clubs, find another to support, or find another (more interesting) sport to follow.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Football is corrupted, not just in the UK but across the world, and has been for a long time – Platini, Blatter, Havelange, Even so, apart from making sure they pay their taxes, it’s not for the Government to interfere in the activities of private companies.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dougie Undersub
Colin Haller
Colin Haller
1 year ago

Congratulations, neoliberals — when everything is for sale, this is what you get.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
1 year ago

Given the likely sanctions – the clubs being kicked out of domestic leagues and UEFA competitions and their players banned from international matches, including World Cups – I really don’t see how the ESL can possibly fly. I certainly hope it doesn’t. Whatever the problems with football at present, the ESL would make matters worse, not better.

Chris Hopwood
Chris Hopwood
1 year ago

The “German model” has led to Bayern Munich winning the Bundesliga virtually every year – a one horse race!

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago

It’s now dead, so its name doesn’t matter much. But it was never the ‘European Super League’. More like the Spanish-American soccer cartel – with oily bits added.