In co-operating in founding the European Super League, English football’s “Big Six” have committed a disgusting, despicable act.
They have disregarded the wishes of the fans, the spirit of the sport and the very foundations upon which the game is built, purely to satiate their own greed and self-interest.
This is not what the people want, writes Gab Sutton.
The people want unpredictability: the Champions League is successful because of relatively low-budget clubs like Benfica, Celtic, Ajax, Nottingham Forest, Steaua București, Red Star Belgrade, Porto, Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid over the years thriving against the odds.
Greatest article ever written, give this man an award #NoToEuropeanSuperLeague pic.twitter.com/tceCHMLcJF
— David Watson (@DavidWiggy21789) April 19, 2021
By having a closed shop, with €3.5 billion given to founder clubs, these stories are not possible in the ESL, which massively limits the competitions appeal.
Not only that, with the “Big Six” gaining sums of money well above what is due to the rest of the English top flight, the division will cease to be competitive.
For that reason, the Premier League must gain a backbone and kick out Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea.
With talk of players who participate in the ESL being banned from international competition, it looks as though the PL will have the mandate to take tough action against those breaking away.
In that scenario, those clubs are unlikely to accept operating in a lower league and could cease to compete domestically.
That prospect prompts a clear sense of anger among fans of elite clubs.
Liverpool supporters conveyed their feelings by unfurling a banner implying the death of the club, with the picture liked over 20,000 times.
Chelsea fans, meanwhile, will protest outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday and negative reactions are all over social media.
— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) April 19, 2021
Widespread anger will turn to apathy if the ESL goes ahead and that is expected, given that the owners of the clubs were anticipating bad PR when the news was announced.
In fact, an unnamed chairman commented that the primary aim was to increase revenue and that the wider interests of football are “secondary”.
Those words represent a hollow kind of change from elite clubs telling fans how important they are, whilst coincidentally asking them for money for tickets and merchandise, but they also had a numbing effect.
Whereas before, fans could turn a blind eye to the greed in the game, the issues are now so stark, so obvious, so hurtful, they are impossible to ignore.
That, though, might not be exclusively a bad thing.
The issues we are facing now are not new, rather the scale at which they are seen and felt is.
This gives fans a platform to fight back in a way we have never done collectively before, because the wealthy do not truly control football, they merely perpetuate the illusion of control.
The real power belongs to the people and if we, as supporters, vote with our feet, there is no money in the ESL: there would be no ticket revenue and no viewing figures, meaning TV companies could not afford to show the competition while sponsors would have to protect their image by backing out.
🚨 Chelsea fans will protest outside Stamford Bridge tomorrow, in opposition to the proposed Super League.
Well done to everyone to attends. Make our voices heard. pic.twitter.com/4JHwBeB8kg
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) April 19, 2021
In boycotting the ESL, fans who are disillusioned with their club can not only take power away from the wealthy but give power to those who need and deserve it.
Swap the ‘S’ for an ‘F’ and you have three wonderfully unpredictable divisions which have so much appeal.
The EFL provides swansongs for international legends like Wes Hoolahan, but also produces the future stars of this country like Max Aarons and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.
It is tantalizingly unpredictable, evidenced by League Two’s bottom side Grimsby outplaying third-placed Bolton last Saturday, or Burton going from being eight points adrift of League One survival in January to safe by mid-April.
The EFL gives us top managerial talents like Daniel Farke, Michael Appleton and Michael Duff, as well as box-office veterans like Neil Warnock and Mick McCarthy, while John Coleman’s Accrington Stanley continue to thrive in League One by plucking gems from the non-league market.
This is a world in which Lincoln City could achieve second-tier football for the first time in 60 years, a world in which low-budgeted Barnsley can press teams into submission and one in which Bolton could be 19th as recently as January, before shooting up League Two to become prime promotion contenders.
The constant chaos of the EFL is a joy to follow and lower down the pyramid, there is even more to appreciate.
Volunteers who chip in for love, owners who remember fans names, managers who chat to natives in bars for which queues are of reasonable length, standing areas within centimetres of the pitch, where you can smell the grass, hear the grunts, sing and shout without reproach and be immersed in the game at an affordable price.
👋 Good morning!
Just a completely unrelated reminder that your local lower league clubs need your support now more than ever. #LOFC #OnlyOneOrient pic.twitter.com/d7yNwWWSO8
— Leyton Orient (@leytonorientfc) April 19, 2021
Those kinds of experiences are wonderful but, until now, not enough people have enjoyed them.
As horrible as it is to see the “Big Six” disregard their fans and go after their own interests, the advantage is that it could see the wonderful world of lower league football be discovered on a broader level than ever before.
Let’s redistribute the wealth. Let’s take back our power. Let’s work together to make English football stronger, healthier and more fit for working people than ever before.
After all, we have something the elite will never have: something worth playing for.