There has been a widespread negative reaction from football fans and others to the announcement by twelve major European clubs to form a breakaway European Super League. English teams Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham are part of the group.
It’s wrong on so many levels, and it’s hard to believe it was even thought of, but less so when you realise that at its heart is greed on the part of the teams’ owners. As I commented on social media: Behold, how the gods of football doth contend, to sacrifice the beautiful game on the twin altars of greed and self-interest.
A statement given by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden about the European Super League proposals was spot on. I quote some of it below, but you can read the whole statement here.
Football is in our national DNA. We invented it, we helped export it around the world, and it has been a central part of British life for over a century. Football clubs aren’t just businesses; they define communities across the country.
So along with almost every member of this House I suspect, I was appalled by the announcement made late last night that a handful of clubs are proposing to form their own breakaway European League. These six clubs announced this decision without any consultation with football authorities, or with the government. But worst of all, they announced it without any dialogue whatsoever with their own fans.
It was a tone-deaf proposal, but the owners of those clubs won’t have been able to ignore the near universal roar of outrage from all parts of the football community over the past 24 hours. This move goes against the very spirit of the game.
This is a sport where a team like Leicester City can ascend from League One to the Premier League title in under a decade, earning the right to go toe-to-toe against European heavyweights in the Champions League. Instead, a small handful of owners want to create a closed shop of elite clubs at the top of the game – a league based on wealth and brand recognition rather than upon merit.
Season after season, year after year, football fans demonstrate unwavering loyalty and passion by sticking by their clubs. But their loyalty is being abused by a small number of individuals who wield an incredible amount of power and influence. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that football is nothing without its fans. These owners should remember that they are only temporary custodians of their clubs, and they forget fans at their peril.