In light of recent events regarding a European Super League being formed, fans have reacted on a scale we have not witnessed before. Fans of clubs from all over the world, joint in the belief that we may be witnessing the end of football as we know it.
Before I begin, my initial reaction and fairly heated thoughts I hold towards this proposal are expressed on a short podcast here:
This article will, hopefully, look to further express my opinion in more of an articulated way, including points which I was not able to put across on the afore-mentioned podcast.
The Americanisation, corporatisation and ultimate bastardisation of football at the top level has been an issue among football fans for years, but as of the 18th of April 2021, this has become more of an issue than ever before. The European Super League is an elitist set-up with only the vested interest of those at it’s helm in mind, a vessel for not only further monopolisation of the sport, but an added bonus to line the pockets of those in charge of each of the involved clubs. The audacity of those at the top, to believe they could continue to compete in their respective domestic competitions, while raking in the extra money and the extras that come with that, is indicative of the arrogance emanated by the likes of Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez, Manchester United’s Joel Glazer and Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke.
The reason I refer to these developments as Americanisation relates to the format of the league system. In the American ‘Major League Soccer,’ teams are unable to be relegated, they pay to enter the league, and once they’re in that’s where they stay. The fundamental idea of promotion and relegation is what makes football so exciting – both for the neutral and fans of clubs who are not involved in this elite bracket. Where is the fun in competition is there is no jeopardy? Where is the sense of passion if there is no risk, the feeling of necessity if there is no fear? Another American-associated reference would be that to the idea of a ‘world series’ in which only select clubs compete. To put a label on something that suggests a sort of competitive edge, when there is no real competitiveness. A league consisting of chosen members, taking away the dream and belief of a smaller club, is not one that anyone looks at with any sort of admiration.
Twelve of what have conspicuously been described as ‘Europe’s Elite,’ despite 4 of them having never won a single European trophy, have been hand-picked through means by which we can only speculate. For Arsenal – who’s last UEFA Champions League game was a 10-2 aggregate hammering to Bayern Munich in 2017, they have never won a European Trophy. Tottenham Hotspur were recently knocked out of Europe’s second tier of competition, the UEFA Europa League, by a team who’s manager was in prison during the second leg. Juventus are about to fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in over 10 years. This cannot be allowed to be framed as anything other than a desperate grab for power, when the big clubs have felt themselves slipping, they’ve established a safety barrier.
Another competition that will have found itself ravaged by the new announcement is the FA Cup. A tournament fabled for it’s magic, the underdog stories, the uncertainty of results in each and every round of the competition. For this tournament to no longer take place with the biggest clubs involved somewhat subtracts from this ‘magic.’ You’ll no longer get that magic moment of League One Bradford City putting 4 past Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, or Championship Crystal Palace defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford thanks to a screamer from Darren Ambrose. The magical moments will be ripped away from the fans who deserve them most.Embed from Getty Images
Football being a global game is both it’s biggest benefit and it’s biggest drawback. Florentino Perez used the globalisation of football in a statement to back up the plans to form the Super League, suggesting that it was a benefit to the fans around the world that they will get to see their teams face off against the world’s best. While this may be true for the Manchester United fan sitting at home in Mumbai, watching them play on his TV, the fan from Salford who’s been home and away for 20 years will now be unable to do so due to each game taking place in another country every other week. The every day match going fan now becomes secondary to the fan who pays the TV money and buys all the club merchandise. Gone are the days where the fans who goes to support his club home and away, week in week out, is actually valued by his club. You, as a fan, are simply a means to an end.
John Nicholson of Football365 put it better than I ever could: “Unhappy fans of the breakaway clubs will have to stay away, support another club, or just go along with it. Sorry if that seems harsh, but this is a revolution your club dreamed up without thinking about you. They have changed your world without asking you. You might not be pleased about it, but what are you going to do to stop it? There’s nothing you can do. They don’t need you, don’t care about you. They have more fans elsewhere who like the idea of big games against big clubs to satisfy. And that’s the perhaps unpalatable truth. Millions and millions want this. It’s just not the traditional fan base.”
A link to the quoted article by John Nicholson here: https://www.football365.com/news/big-six-european-super-league-john-nicholson
The one issue I have personally regarding this Super League is that there will of course be the suggestion to boycott. Morally, I agree, and have even backed the idea myself on socials. However, it could easily prove to be an irresistible temptation. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side facing Barcelona at the Nou Camp – a spectacle not many could really resist. I’d beg the question; morally, it wouldn’t be right, morally, it would go against every point I’ve made in this article, but can we really resist the temptation? After all, Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden.
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