Fans unite to condemn the ‘Super League’ power grab
Sunday, 18th Apr 2021 22:53 by Tim Whelan
The plans to set up a self-styled European Super League are being opposed from all sides, including the fans of the six English clubs involved. Supporters groups representing fans of these clubs have put their names to a letter to the European Club Association signed by fans groups from all over Europe.
The proposal for the breakaway league is understood to come from 12 of the continent’s richest clubs, with no fewer than half of them being English. This is of course the self-styled ‘big six’ of Liverpool, the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea. Big in financial terms rather than playing merit of course, with the two North London clubs currently 7th and 9th in the table.
The others include Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid, but surprisingly there is no mention of Bayern or Paris St. Germain so far. When the idea was last mooted in the autumn the clubs involved said they needed to make good the losses they have suffered during the pandemic, although Real’s massive debts haven’t stopped them making a record-breaking bid for the services of Alfie Haaland.
And of course Covid has affected clubs at all levels of the game, and outside the top divisions of the major leagues they haven’t got the benefit of lucrative TV deals to compensate for the loss of income through the gate. So it’s no surprise this blatant power grab has run into opposition from everybody else who is involved in football.
UEFA, the FA, the Premier League and football authorities in Spain and Italy issued a joint statement. They said they "remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project. We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough."
And the Premier League's chief executive Richard Masters has written to all 20 clubs in England's top division to state that "this venture cannot be launched without English clubs and we call upon any club contemplating associating themselves or joining this venture to walk away immediately before irreparable damage is done".
The football authorities have made it clear that any clubs joining this league would be barred from all existing European and domestic competitions, and their players would not be able to play for their countries in the World Cup or the European Championship. Which might be a little bit harsh on those who were under contract at the time their clubs chose to join this league.
Gary Neville has also spoken out against this proposal in an emotional outburst on Sky Sports today. "I'm not against the modernisation of football competitions, we have the Premier League, the Champions League, but I think to bring forward proposals in the midst of COVID and the economic crisis for all clubs is an absolute scandal.”
Our very own Andrea Radrizzani tweeted “well said Gary” this evening, and he will know how damaging this could be to Leeds, just as we’ve got back into the existing big time of the Premier League. His ideas on taking the club forward involve getting into Europe in a year or two, so he won’t want the route to join the continent’s elite to be ripped up just before we can get there.
And even Boris Johnson has got in on the act. He said on Twitter “Plans for a European super league would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action. The proposals would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country. The clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps."
Ideas for a breakaway league crop up every few years or so, and always time they happen when UEFA is considering a revamp of it’s existing competitions. If I was a cynic I would think that this is just a bluff by the big clubs to force UEFA to guarantee them more matches and therefore more income from a revised Champions League.
Which is exactly what UEFA itself is proposing, with plans for an expanded and restructured Champions League due to be announced tomorrow. This is believed to involve an increase from 32 to 36 teams in the Champions League, with the group stage becoming a single table rather than the current groups of four clubs.
This would involve 100 extra matches and four new “exclusive game weeks” running from Tuesday to Thursday, so there would be further damage to existing domestic cup competitions. And there would even be guaranteed participation for certain clubs based on their past performance, even if they failed to qualify through their performances in their domestic leagues.
Even these official proposals are unacceptable to the majority of fans, as they involve a further concentration of wealth in the hands of a few clubs at the expense of the rest. So the Football Supporters Association (FSA) has issued a statement condemning both UEFA’s ideas and the possible breakaway.
“The FSA is totally opposed to the proposals which seek to create a breakaway ‘European Superleague’. The motivation behind this so-called superleague is not furthering sporting merit or nurturing the world’s game – it is motivated by nothing but cynical greed.”
This competition is being created behind our backs by billionaire club owners who have zero regard for the game’s traditions and continue to treat football as their personal fiefdom. The FSA, and no doubt supporters across the continent, will continue to fight against its creation.”
“The FSA has long-opposed the concept of a European Super League, but UEFA’s alternative plans represent a massive threat to lower league finances, domestic cup competitions, weekend football, and will all but lock out new entrants to European competition.”
And the fans of the 14 clubs on the European Club Association (ECA) board (the clique of the wealthiest clubs, who are pushing for these reforms to European club competitions) have sent them a joint letter, saying “We are the fans of today and we do not want more European games. We want strong, competitive domestic leagues, an equal opportunity to qualify for Europe based on sporting merit, and fairer sharing of the game’s wealth.”
“Your plans to restructure the Champions League by increasing the number of games, introducing qualification based on past achievements, and monopolising commercial rights present a serious threat to the entire game. Such a blatant power grab would be indefensible at the best of times, but at the height of a global pandemic, it is nothing more than crisis profiteering—not to mention a stark contrast to the solidarity displayed by fans.”
And it’s clear that these supporters’ groups are very much in tune with fans across the continent, as social media is awash with fans condemning the breakaway. I’ve got Facebook friends who have
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