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Doing nothing is not an option, the response to the Super League

Opinion

If football sweeps the Super League and its plotters under the carpet, it will weaken and the six and their plans will return. The choice is stark. Doing nothing is not an option.

Harold Wilson famously said “a week is a long time in politics” whilst Chamberlain said “there is no use looking beyond the next fortnight”.

A week ago, you could be forgiven for assuming that the untrustworthy six would be facing a very long and difficult week not only in the court of public opinion but in the Premier League corridors of power. Disturbingly, that has not proved to be the case. It is disturbing because the failure to act, the failure to bring these miscreants to account, has a significant impact on the future of the game.

A failure to act further emboldens those just with self-interest at heart. A failure to act brings into doubt the integrity of the Premier League, its strength of management, and indeed brings you to question the motive and purpose of the other fourteen member clubs.

In Everton’s excellent statement on the Monday morning prior to the hastily arranged Premier League meeting, the statement concluded as such “to remember the privileged position they hold – not only as custodians of their clubs but also custodians of the game. The responsibility they carry should be taken seriously. We urge them all to consider what they wish their legacy to be.”

Whilst that was quite correctly directed at the owners and directors of the six, those same words apply to the fourteen plus the Premier League board and management. Failure to respond appropriately and swiftly brings into question their legacy, their custodian role.

Let’s make no pretence; the six sought to destroy completely any sporting integrity left in professional football. The plan (such as it was) sought to separate once and for all, the six from the rest by providing such a commercial and income advantage that could never be bridged. It sought to cut off the threat (as the six saw it) of the likes of Leicester City, Everton and West Ham United (based on this season’s results) breaking up this self-absorbed cartel.

Had the Super League gone ahead, it is impossible to understate the incalculable damage it would have done to the domestic game. In nature, the apex predator maintains the food chain below it, maintaining a balance built over millions of years. The removal of the apex predator destroys everything below it. So it is (albeit over a somewhat shorter time period) in professional football. Despite the absurd imbalance of resources and the desperate need for great reform, the pyramid structure survives. The Super League would have destroyed the Premier League as the apex operator.

Because of the enormous financial advantages the six would have awarded themselves, the Premier League would cease to be a competitive environment. Because the six were guaranteed participation in the Super League, how much value would there be in others trying to qualify for significantly damaged UEFA competitions? How much value would there be in other club owners continuing to provide investment in stadiums, in new players, in management, in academies to produce tomorrow’s crop of new players? For what purpose? To win the 7th place trophy?

It just wouldn’t happen. Other club owners would reduce their investment plans because there would be nothing worthwhile striving for. Broadcasters would take the same view; rights values would fall. Sponsors and commercial partners would see the Premier League losing its apex position with a corresponding drop in interest and thus value. The Super League would have a devastating impact on the Premier League and then in turn the whole pyramid below it.

Outside of the Premier League, clubs have barely survived the impact of the pandemic. They are effectively on life support, functioning and still producing a great product on the pitch, but unable to survive without external resources to assist them. This would be wiped out in a world that accommodated the Super League.

This is what the six were plotting. They had, indeed have, no interest in the long term survival (let alone advancement) of the wider professional game, of the pyramid that extends all the way to grassroots football.

That is the ultimate act of bad faith. What they were planning would lead to the destruction of professional football in England and many other leagues across Europe. Those six owners would know that; their advisors would know that; and so would their bankers. Not one had the courage to recognise the damage their actions would have created; not one called a stop to this madness driven purely by personal greed.

This is why punishment is required. This is why Klopp is entirely wrong in saying it is time to move on. This is why Ceferin is wrong to call the English clubs that pulled out “great” – “you have to have some greatness to say I was wrong” he is quoted as saying. What utter nonsense. He should be saying you nearly destroyed our game by your deliberate actions and you will be punished for it.

Punishment is required but so is accountability. Make each club explain their actions. Usually any of the six will jump at the chance of publicity. Make them do what Tiger Woods did on his road to redemption. Face the press, face the world, face your own fans and explain why you did what you planned, why you did it in the full knowledge you were destroying our game.

Then, having received your punishment (I still believe relegation is appropriate), having your moment in which you must justify your actions, you have to commit to a new world – a world where football is properly governed at every level. A world where it would not be possible to behave in this way. One of true accountability. One where fans were not only listened to but actually held some control in terms of veto (as I have written previously).

Then, if you (as the owner of one of these six) don’t like the new environment, sell your club. No-one is forcing you to stay in football. Sell it to someone who perhaps understands the values of football and understands its importance culturally and societally, particularly in the UK.

In my opinion, this is the message that should be going out from every Premier League club and the League itself. Day and night until people understand what the impact would have been. Tell the sporting world of what they proposed to do, the damage they would have brought, the punishment they must accept, and the governance changes that make football better in the future.

If football doesn’t do this, it if sweeps the Super League and its plotters under the carpet, football will weaken and the six and their plans will return. If they do, football fans all over will not forgive you – those with the power to make changes (as well as the six) for allowing it to happen. The choice is stark. Doing nothing is not an option.

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 Posted
29/04/2021 at
07:39:55

Paul I totally agree with everything you say. This would be the right and appropriate action.

But this will never be the case. The reason why the breakaway six did try to form a European Super League was they thought they could due the feedback and attitudes of those who they dealt with in the Premiership, Champions League and Ueafa. What they misjudged in England was the fan reaction and the prospect of political retaliation.

So the cracks will be papered over. You might get some token changes in the Chairman and Vice Chairman role in the Premiership. ln the Champions League the changes proposed by Man U will be the template and what can be pushed through in relation to that. This will be to the financial detriment of challenging Clubs in the Premiership. Ueafa will move in behind the money. A European Super League by the back door.

The only real fall out will be for the breakaway European Super League Clubs who needed the breakaway league to sustain their financial sustainability.

Actually as a Evertonian I am surprised you did not smell a rat, when the Daily Mail identified Bill as the poster boy for the good of the Premiership with a two page spread. As for Moshiri he might have regained his confidence enough to chance the next Everton AGM.

As for the Fans and Politicians the whole lot will join forces to counter any attempted changes.

 Posted
29/04/2021 at
07:52:29

Operation “carpet sweep” going on as we speak.

There will be a token gesture penalty but the status quo is a money spinner for the authorities and all that irked them was a threat to their dough which has now evaporated. We are in “nothing to see here” territory right now, forward thinking among the footballing mafia doesn’t exist

 Posted
29/04/2021 at
08:14:08

Relegation will never happen. Twenty points deduction this season, thirty points deduction from the start of next season, five years European ban and £100M fine should be sufficient for these septic six clubs.

Though maybe double all that for Spurs for having the audacity to think they were entitled to be classed as one of Europeans power horses!!

 Posted
29/04/2021 at
08:39:41

Paul “…punishment (I still believe relegation is appropriate)”.

Paul, I still wonder and worry about the timing and implications of relegation. If you relegate them, you presumably have an appeals process. Appeals would presumably be internal; and then externally through the courts at (possibly) various levels.

By the time that is all complete, we’re into next season, I guess. If at that point the greedy six finally win their appeal, how do you unpick the actions you’ve taken? The three extra clubs promoted from the Championship would have to have their results voided and be “de-promoted”? With allocations of money for promoted clubs now reversed? With implications for contracts signed by players who had recently signed on for those clubs? Premier League clubs who’d played them would have to have their results voided? Arrangements would need to be made for the greedy six to now play catch-up games with the season well under way? Financial claims for any related loss of revenues?

I don’t know I’m just guessing but immediate relegation seems a can of worms.

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