The announcement of the European Super League’s (ESL) creation has rocked the world of football.
Twelve clubs, including six from the Premier League have allowed greed and blind ambition to turn them into pale imitations of the clubs they were. How would the likes of Bill Shankly and Matt Busby react to this news? Poorly you would suspect. So what happens for these clubs now? What happens to the fans?
For a start, almost every game these clubs play this season is effectively pointless. Liverpool’s game against Leeds United, a vital match for the top four race has been rendered irrelevant. All sense of competition in the Premier League and in Europe has been rendered mute.
Gary Neville described the decision as “Disowning your club stuff” on Sky Sports. Make no mistake, if you’re a local fan it’s too late to disown your club because they’ve already disowned you. According to the BBC’s Dan Roan, executives at ESL clubs are referring to these fans and others as ‘legacy fans’. They’re instead looking for ‘fans of the future’ who are looking for their clubs to sign as many star names as possible. It’s not just the ‘legacy fans’ who will suffer as a result of this, however.
Players from these clubs will never play international football again. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, will never line up for the Three Lions again. Assuming, of course, they stay at their clubs. That would be nothing short of a travesty. This though is where these clubs are playing a very dangerous game.
It’s hard to see the best players in the world being willing to forgo an opportunity to represent their countries. From the most recent England squad, only 10 of the 23 man squad would be eligible to play. It’s a similar situation across the world’s best national teams.
The Super League’s brand is all about having the best players and best clubs in one place. If the players are banned from playing for their national teams though, it’s hard to see them staying with these clubs. This automatically destroys any appeal the league might have had and makes it even more pointless. That’s not even mentioning the possibility of them not being able to play in their own national leagues.
However, it appears the sheer arrogance of these owners will see them push past this problem and attempt to form the league regardless. UEFA are no better, however. The Champions League and its promise of places for big teams who fail to qualify are every bit as ridiculous as the ESL. This ring-fencing of football for the elite simply has to stop.
Now the time has come for football as an entity to take a stand. Not UEFA, not FIFA, not Sky Sports or any major company, but the community of the sport. These clubs believe they can reap the financial benefits of the ESL, while playing in their domestic competitions. The sheer arrogance of this, the hubris displayed is stunning.
These clubs should be ruthlessly punished, and ruthlessly so. Relegation, points docking, nothing should be taken off the table. Whether or not the ESL does go ahead, these people need to be shown there are limits.