European Super League – Reaction and Our Thoughts

17 days after it should have been announced, April 18th saw six English clubs finally make the move that has been threatened for years. They’re offski, apparently, and there isn’t a thing we can do about it. 

Yesterday, news broke that Arsenal Man Utd, Man City, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool plan to form a new European Super League, along with a handful of other clubs proclaiming themselves to be the best in Europe. The six, not even the best six teams in England right now, expect to bugger off and play Barcelona, Real Madrid and (oddly, given how crap they’ve been of late) AC Milan every week. Cheers then.

Obviously, the move has been widely criticised across the football spectrum, with Gary Neville (artificially funding Salford City in the EFL and taking a living from Sky, who started this off in 1992) getting a round of applause for his stance, whilst the more respected views of fan groups of the six have resonated far deeper. One by one, clubs have begun to put their thoughts on record, and I’m delighted to see we have too.

The Imps have released a statement lashing out at the selfish and conceited plans of the so-called big six to form part of a European Super League. I’ll drop their statement first, then add a bit of my own. In all honesty, the club’s words need no analysis from me and stand alone in their own right as a powerful reaction.

Empty stadiums don’t matter to the rogue six

Club Statement

“Our reaction to the announcement of the formation of a European Super League is one of deep sadness and dismay. For it to take place at a time when so many clubs and grassroots football are battling with the consequences of Covid-19 is reprehensible.

“Similar to our stance on Project Big Picture, we are vehemently against the concentration of power and ever-increasing wealth in the hands of just a few clubs who at a point in time believe they have the right to entrench that power and wealth forever.

“It will destroy the principles upon which the game has been played in England for more than a century and will have severe consequences on the football pyramid and beyond. We must not be fooled by empty promises of this wealth trickling down the pyramid. The falsehood of those promises was laid bare upon proper analysis of the figures contained in Project Big Picture.

“The time has come to put an end to this disgraceful money and power grab. To compromise yet again with these so-called big clubs will only delay the inevitable. We implore Government to finally take action to preserve the game in this country and for FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League to stand firm against the attempts to destroy the game as we know it. We would also hope to see the board of the EFL speak out strongly against the formation of the European Super League.

“On a positive note, it is extremely encouraging to see so many fans and the supporter groups of these big clubs speaking out in opposition to these plans. Empty stadiums have convincingly shown that fans are the lifeblood of the game. Despite claims that this is a response to the desires of fans, clearly true football fans do not want the abomination of a European Super League or an undermined and compromised domestic league structure.”

Credit Graham Burrell

In his press conference this morning, Michael Appleton also had his say on the plans.

“It can only mean bad things for the game,” said the gaffer. “But I wouldn’t do it justice by trying to give you an answer in 20 seconds or 20 minutes.

It wouldn’t be football, would it? It would be a different sport. They’d have to call it something else. It certainly wouldn’t be football.”

The Red Imps Community Trust also released a statement, adding their thoughts to the growing crescendo of angry voices.

“The Red Imps Community Trust abhor any moves to damage the football pyramid and ultimately negatively affect clubs like ours by the formation of a European Super League. Football is a game for the people and their communities and it should stay that way unaffected by any selfish ambition of those currently at a higher level.”

Strong words, and ones I am happy to read. Remember, we have Morgan Rogers on loan from Manchester City and have cultivated ties with other big clubs, such as Arsenal. It is not easy for clubs to condemn these moves and I am proud our club has stood up and had a voice, as plenty of others have had also.

One assumes no more FA Cup participation – Credit Graham Burrell

My View

I didn’t do an article on this because at the end of the day, what does my view matter? It is the same opinion as 99% of the football-loving world, and me making a statement of any kind is trying to suggest what I say carries more weight than others, which it does not. However, as part of a comment on a wider article, it delights me to have a bit of a say.

Firstly, the timing is opportunistic and hurtful. Like PBP, the ill-fated attempt to wrestle more power domestically, it has been timed so badly. Football is still flatlining, clubs are still struggling without supporters and these greedy six (I’ll refer to the six because the other mercenary bastards from Italy and Spain have their own lower leagues to answer too) have noticed something. They’ve noticed they don’t need fans. They don’t need you.

I haven’t watched a full Premier League game for years, and the first CL match I have had broadcast into my house was Wednesday because a friend wanted it on his tablet. I haven’t felt a connection with the top flight since they stopped bringing full squads to FA Cup matches, probably even since Man Utd opted out of the FA Cup. That’s me though, and I know so many of you do support a Premier League club. My mate Pete is an ST holder at Old Trafford, my mate Jason has gone to watch Liverpool since the late eighties and what they are being told today, to all intent and purpose, is they don’t matter. Those six know they don’t need supporters in stadiums, they just need viewers. You don’t matter to them, all your years of support, of buying shirts and paying for Sky doesn’t matter.

Sky cameras caught this, crumbs from the top table – Credit Graham Burrell

Sky and PL Hypocrisy

As for Sky, I note they’re condemning the move, as are the Premier League. Laughable. That’s like bankers appealing to you because a select few banks want to hog all of the bonuses. They’ve had your pants down for years and years, and now they start shouting about integrity, real fans and the like? Pull the other one lads, it has bells on. The same goes for the Premier League – they couldn’t be arsed to sort a decent bail-out for teams struggling through the pandemic, but now they want our sympathy? They might get it elsewhere, but not from me. Watching a key Sky figure and long-time Premier League player tell me how important football was to fans, whilst at the same time sacking managers at a rate of three a season and buying his way out of the National League driving up wages, made me smile. I like Gary Neville, or at least I like the Alright Fans parody of him, but his impassioned rant didn’t fool me I’m afraid. Call me a cynic, but if he really did get it, wouldn’t he have ploughed his money into Bury, where his parents were lifelong supporters? He’s almost (almost) as fake as the top six.

One of the rogue six and Lincoln – Credit Graham Burrell

Who Picks the Big Six?

Aside from the obvious arguments, what on earth gives the likes of Arsenal (9th) and Spurs (7th) the right to call themselves the big six? West Ham had higher average attendance in 2019/20 than all but two of the rogue six clubs, whilst Newcastle bested Chelsea and they’re run by a joke of a chairman. I saw someone on Twitter likening Spurs being involved to the Avengers inviting Bananaman to join in. I quite like Bananaman, but right now I don’t like Spurs, or the other five.

The whole thing is just disgusting, but the problem hasn’t just appeared. The announcement was made near midnight, why do you think that was? To sneak it by under the cover of darkness, or because the driving forces behind it are based around the world, with the Glazers and Fenway Sports Group based in America? In case you missed it, JP Morgan are financing it too, and I don’t need to tell you where they’re based, I’m sure. It’s all about those markets, it’s all about the dollars.

I’m not sure what I dislike more. The lack of promotion and relegation would make this league very much like MLS, fundamentally a cabal not a competition. I’m not sure if it is the false promises of better wealth distribution like this is some sort of heralded solution to the world’s problems. Yes, all the food in the world will flow to our table, but it means more dirty dishes for you to lick when we’re done. Great, cheers for that.

I’m not sure if it is the arrogance of the six thinking they’re better than clubs like Ajax, despite some of them never winning a European Cup or equivalent. It’s all just grotesque, horrible and so utterly predictable I wasn’t even surprised.

He’s against it – Credit Graham Burrell

It’s Happening

What has surprised me is how quickly things have moved on. All 12 clubs have quit the ECA, European Club Association, which was formed in 2008 to protect the interests of 16 member clubs, but now boasts 232 members. Andrea Agnelli was the chairman of this organisation, he’s quit too because he is also the chairman of Juventus. He was serving his interests and those of his club, rather than the 232 members left behind, 232 big clubs not deemed super enough for the super league. That’s right, the man chairing a committee that was meant to protect football has secretly been plotting to cut the bulk of them adrift at the first chance. If the six are villains (and they are), then Agnelli is the supervillain, the inside man so to speak. Ed Woodward isn’t much better, his name suggests plank and he’s had to quit his role with UEFA too. Shock. He’s a bit like Nigel Farage was to the EU I guess.

What pains me the most is Germany. I was brought up thinking they were the enemy, beating us at penalties, knocking us out of tournaments etc. Yup, Germany were the bad guys and we were the good guys, that was how I was taught to think. That’s not the case, is it? Dortmund and Bayern Munich were approached to join this zombie league, and both refused. The German structure and fan-driven model of ownership is one to cherish and it pains me they get it so, so right and we get it so, so wrong. Mind you, they do have ‘B’ teams, such as Bayern Munich II, so they’re not perfect, but in the context of this argument, I’ll cut them some slack.

Remind me again, who are the Champions of Europe? Even Paris St Germain, held up as all that is wrong with modern football when they paid £191m for Neymar, have refused to join. There’s something very wrong when the self-proclaimed European Super League won’t even feature the best two teams in Europe because they morally object, but it will include Arsenal, who last won the European Cup in the year two thousand and never, just after Manchester City and Spurs.

There’s not a lot more I can write, because better people will have more to say on platforms far bigger than mine. I just wanted to share a few thoughts because to not do so would be wrong. If you skipped right to the end and want a bit of a summary though, I can do that for you. European Super League = bad. To be fair, if you haven’t got that by now, you’re probably the chairman of Liverpool, Man Utd or Man City. Or a banker. Or something that sounds like banker.