18th April 2021 will be a day that will be remembered by football fans everywhere. It was the day where 12 greedy businessmen running Europe’s top clubs announced that they were planning on breaking away and creating their own ‘Super League’.
Headed up by Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez as the supposed President of this new ‘Super League’ as news began to shockingly filter through on Sunday afternoon before being officially confirmed past 11pm that very night, football fans, pundits, journalists, the government, managers & players across the country in England quickly united to bring down the plans that were leaving shockwaves throughout football.
Fans took to social media and the streets outside the stadiums of the English clubs that were involved (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham) before the voices of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher passionately fuelled the fire on Sky’s Monday Night Football ahead of Leeds vs Liverpool.
The other 14 Premier League clubs condemned the actions of the other six clubs, Luke Shaw & Harry Maguire were reported to have confronted Manchester United’s vice-chairman Ed Woodward after hearing of the plans on Monday morning, Marcus Rashford & Kevin De Bruyne evidently aired their thoughts on Twitter while Crystal Palace owner Steve Parish led a passionate speech on Sky and Man City manager Pep Guardiola deemed the Super League to ‘not be a sport’.
Perez’s interview on Sunday night where he claimed that the ‘Super League’ was to save football seemed to push football fans everywhere over the edge, as they desperately tried to apply enough pressure on the clubs involved and make them see that the ESL would change football globally for the worst and make it a ‘closed shop’.
Fighting for a title with no relegation and nothing else to be gained from the league was always an idea that sits well with no football fan, with things already falling to pieces 48 hours after the plans were formally announced by clubs.
Manchester City & Chelsea were the first ones to buckle, while Barcelona & Atletico Madrid quickly followed as the tide began to turn across the waters in Spain. Manchester United & Arsenal were then reported to have stepped away from the idea as an emergency meeting was called by the 12 clubs, before Woodward brought forward his decision to step away from his role at Old Trafford.
For now, the battle may be won but the war that the owners declared on football is far from over.
This is only the beginning of the owners attempting to fill their pockets with more cash and leave the rest of the footballing world behind, owners that are not fit for purpose and don’t care about the supporters whose hearts have been broken in the process.
Football fans never forget the good times or the bad, and they certainly won’t forget an act like this. This is an unforgivable act which will see the owners eventually pushed from their football clubs in time, no amount of PR can repair the damage that they have caused themselves long-term.
An independent regulator to help protect football clubs needs to be set up, to make sure that the owners & chairman taking over are ‘fit and proper’ with their intentions clear. Perez and his other group of chairmen have tried to franchise and ‘Americanise’ football clubs, the lifeblood of their communities for over 100 years, football clubs that were created by the poor and taken over by the rich with one purpose clear: Money.
These owners in the last 48 hours have proven that they don’t care about the fans, a thought that has been at the back of supporters’ minds for some time.
If the Super League had passed through, then there would have been no turning back. Football united everywhere to bring it to a stop as soon as the news began to break. Every person that tweeted, spoke passionately about it on podcasts, turned up outside football grounds to protest, they helped bring it to an end before the idea had been able to get off the ground.
The initial battle may be won, but the war is still not over for as long as the owners remain in their football clubs. They will try this again, attempt to distance themselves from the supporters and the communities that have helped to make them what they are.
These clubs need punishing for as long as their owners are in charge of them. It would be unfair to punish a club under new ownership. Put these clubs under a transfer embargo, relegate them, deduct points from them, ban them from European competitions. Punish the billionaires that run them and never let them near a football club again. They mismanage them, run up millions and millions of debt then tried to take the easy way out by changing football forever. We won’t stand for it.
The 50+1 model that Germany uses would be the perfect way to go if it could be enforced. This would be the best way of ensuring that fans continue to feel a part of their club by owning 51% shares and making sure that external investors aren’t responsible for the majority of crucial decisions made off the field.
These football clubs would be nothing without the working class, the dock workers and the normal men who set them up over 100 years ago. They built them up, and as the interest grew, the businessmen took over with one thought on their mind: Money.
There are good chairmen in football, such as Crystal Palace’s Steve Parish who lives and breathes his club, then there are the likes of the Glazers and FSG at Liverpool. The ones who want to make football a business.
Football is a sport, it is the sport of this country and the sport of the world. It’s a universal language that the majority of people you come across can speak. It’s the sport of the working class, it’s not run like a business in the way the NBA or NFL is. Their half-time shows, corporate seats and expensive food don’t belong in football as we know it.
The last 48 hours will go down in history amongst the fans of football in this country. Perez was right, football was saved, it was saved the right way, the way that will preserve it for years to come. But change is still needed. Less money for ticket prices, less money for streaming services, cut out the racism on social media, a more united world of football.
Never underestimate the power of football fans when they join forces, no matter what team they support.