As football fans rejoice at toppling the European Super League, they must stay on their guard against the unfettered avarice that infests the boardrooms of those that plotted the ill-fated mission.
Protest turned to jubilation in west London on Tuesday night time as Chelsea fans discovered their membership was pulling out of the European Super League. Not lengthy afterwards, Manchester City confirmed they have been strolling away, sheepishly adopted by the remainder of England’s disgraced ‘Big Six’ as the rebels turned their backs and fled.
Over in Spain, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez – the beleaguered Super League chairman – sifted by means of the ruins of a mission he had disingenuously proclaimed to be ‘the saviour of football’. Barely 48 hours after it had entered the world, Perez was left cradling his stillborn with little hope of respiratory life again into the mission.
This was a spectacularly brazen power-grab from Europe’s Dirty Dozen, introduced crashing down by myriad forces: from the supporters on the streets to the keyboard warriors on social media; from the TV diatribes by Gary Neville to the misgivings by Manchester City supervisor Pep Guardiola; from the open recalcitrance of Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson to the extra delicate swipe from Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford. All performed an element, and all of it proved an excessive amount of to abdomen for bosses at Manchester City and Chelsea as they precipitated the English exodus.
As fiercely tribal as football is, this was a uncommon second of solidarity when fans of all stripes might rejoice and experience the feeling that – so typically scorned – they’d truly made a distinction.
The Super League was a mission so extremely ill-conceived that it begs the query: what have been these behind it pondering? Why now, and why with such scant regard for the forces underpinning the sport? Could they actually have been so amateurish and out of contact as to fail to anticipate the hearth and fury that might observe?
Rather than failing to learn the room, they hadn’t even even bothered to enter it in the first place. Managers have been frolicked to dry whereas house owners hunkered down, consistent with what number of of those distant billionaires have run their golf equipment since getting their palms on them.
The important motivation behind the Super League rebels was blindingly apparent: greed.
A superiority advanced at the high of the sport and the long-harboured feeling that the wealthy have been not getting their fair proportion. The US affect was evident by means of the Glazers at Manchester United, Stan Kroenke at Arsenal and John W Henry at Liverpool. These are males used to working in closed outlets, the place ‘equality’ exists but solely among the established elite. The ideas of the footballing pyramid – promotion, relegation, the wild ebb and move of fortunes – are alien to those males. They need franchises, and to hell with the relaxation.
The Super League plot deliberate to lock of their superiority in perpetuity. For all the speak of ‘solidarity payments’ for groups decrease down the pyramid, this scheme would imply everybody outdoors the 15 everlasting Super League golf equipment can be left feeding off scraps.
The malign American affect is not the solely clarification for this malfeasance, nevertheless. Real Madrid’s Perez was a really public driving power, as was Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli. Both are businessmen but might additionally – in the loosest sense – be deemed ‘football men’. The Agnelli household have owned Juve since 1923; Perez has been Real Madrid president for the higher a part of twenty years.
It is Perez who has been the bumbling face of the Super League, along with his claims that children now not cared about football, that matches wanted to be shorter, that the entire system wanted overhauling. ‘I’ll deliver you modernity’, was the message from the 74-year-old billionaire supposedly along with his finger on football’s pulse.
In actuality, Real Madrid and co-conspirators Barcelona are in monetary dire straits, determined for funds having spectacularly mismanaged their books. Their salvation was to be present in gorging themselves much more on the riches led to by the Super League.
Some have contemplated whether or not all this was only a huge ruse to power UEFA into but extra reforms, handing the largest groups extra energy and a much bigger slice of the pie. The timing and nature of this entire shambles means that was not the case. The likes of Agnelli and now-departed Man Utd vice-chairman Ed Woodward have been negotiating reforms to the Champions League with UEFA whereas concurrently cooking up their Super League plans.
UEFA defiantly pressed forward with its announcement on Monday that its flagship event would implement adjustments from the 2024-25 season, which is able to see the Champions League expanded from 32 groups to 36, primarily based on a brand new ‘Swiss model’. That transfer was seen as a concession to the larger groups as it could hand them extra video games against their fellow elite.
That clearly wasn’t sufficient, although. A breakaway Super League has been years in the making, but its initiators felt now was the time to lastly strike. The monetary ravages of Covid-19 have hastened their transfer, but it was a step they have been nonetheless nicely on the option to taking. This time in addition they had the billion-dollar funds in place by means of JP Morgan, though consistent with their newbie hour antics, have been with out a broadcaster lined up.
By most accounts, Chelsea and Man City have been reluctant to get onboard, but in the end feared lacking the boat. It was telling that they have been the first two groups to desert the sinking ship.
All of the Dirty Dozen will probably now should return, heads bowed, again to UEFA. For all its faults – and they’re myriad – UEFA has emerged wanting like the good man in all of this. It will sting for the likes of Perez and Agnelli to should grovel on their means again, as appears inevitable.
There is hypocrisy every means you flip on this entire fiasco. In the UK, Sky Sports and BT have trumpeted their opposition to the Super League, giving a platform to the likes of Neville to carry forth on its ills, and but each broadcasters proceed to cost extortionate charges for the common football fan.
Paris Saint-Germain have been held up as paragons of loyalty for refusing to show their backs on UEFA, but many identified their motives have been probably simply as a lot tied up in the vested broadcasting pursuits that PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi has in the Champions League as head of Qatari TV behemoth beIN Sports.
In some sections of the media, Manchester City proprietor Sheikh Mansour has been trumpeted for supposedly being the “unlikely saviour” of football. Given the causes behind the Abu Dhabi takeover at the membership, that is frankly laughable. City and Chelsea ought to each have an extended, onerous have a look at themselves for going alongside for the Super League journey in the first place.
Even the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson did not escape censure after criticizing the Super League plans, because it was swiftly pointed out that he had backed the Glazer household of their debt-laden takeover at Old Trafford.
There have been casualties. Ed Woodward is gone from Old Trafford, a transfer lengthy overdue for many of the United trustworthy. Liverpool proprietor Henry issued a public apology on Wednesday, expressing his disappointment for the “disruption” he has triggered in latest days.
But so long as he feels the earnings are there, Henry will keep on at Liverpool – simply as Joel Glazer will at Manchester United, and Stan Kroenke will at Arsenal. Driven by their relentless pursuit of earnings, these cash males will come once more with plans to restructure and reshape football, to the detriment of the fans and fellow groups who’ve helped construct it into what it is.
Football will pat itself on the again for having staved off this disaster, but many extra equalities and injustices stay. The menace of a European Super League nonetheless looms on the horizon, even when the present iteration has been vanquished.
“We shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project,” learn an announcement from the league issued amid the rubble on Tuesday night time.
Yes, they’ll have been burned by this expertise, but football’s cash males have not been defeated utterly.
Football fans have won the battle, but the war against the game’s rapacious greed very a lot goes on.
By Liam Tyler