European Super League-End Of Football As We Know It

European Super League-The End Of Football As We Know It?

Most of the footballing news in the last few days has all been about the new, proposed European Super League. And no wonder really. Although something like this has been threatened for some time, it still came as a bit of a bombshell nonetheless. The title of this post of “European Super League-The End Of Football As We Know It?” has, as you will have noticed a “?” at the end of it. The reason for that?

But before you continue reading, in case you don’t know what the European Super League is, have a look at this link HERE.

European Super League-The End Of Football As We Know It

For all intents and purposes the simple answer to the introduction of a European Super League is a nightmare scenario. So much outpouring of disdain, disgust and rejection of the suggestion since the announcement. And from so many. Fan groups have shown their opposition to the idea. And rightly so. Because after all, football is about the fans. It’s the fans game. And to us fans, it always has been our game and always will be. I’ve been banging this particular drum on here many times. But, now with the introduction of a European Super League, football is being taken away from us fans. Again.

Of that there is no doubt. But here’s the answer and the reason for the “?” at the end of the post title. Is treating the fans like the least important component of the beautiful game, in this instance, the first time the fans have been treated with such contempt?

I don’t have a Sky Sports package. I refuse to get one. And, to be honest, I don’t know if Sky are one of the protestors to the proposed European Super League? Maybe they’re not. But if they are and they are making a case of protesting on behalf of the fans, whose game it is anyway, isn’t this a case of “pot, kettle, black?”

Or should the introduction of a European Super League be labelled as the “End Of Football As We Know It-Mark II” or Mark III even?

The End Of Football As We Know It

European Super League-End Of Football As We Know It
European Super League-End Of Football As We Know It

As I say, I don’t have a Sky package but I did hear Gary Neville’s heartfelt condemnation of the European Super League. And he spoke with great passion and clarity. As did Jamie Carragher I am told later on in the evening on Sky Sports. All well and good. And, the Leeds players wore t-shirts for their warm up in support of the fans. Isn’t this all a bit hypocritical though?

If the pandemic hadn’t have struck we would have had last night’s game played with a large following of Liverpool fans in the away end. So many fans would have had to finish work early, or take the day off work. Maybe even get stuck in the traffic on the way to the game. Get back home late facing only a few hours sleep before having to get up for work on a Tuesday morning.

With that backdrop, how hypocritical were those t-shirts with the message, “Football Is For The Fans?”

Leeds as a club and the Leeds players, you do realise the game was at 8pm on a Monday night? And for that privilege, the club and the players get extra money no doubt. What do the match going fans get? Where are the protests on behalf of the fans for such horrible kick-off times? Yes, OK there weren’t any fans at the match last night due to the pandemic. But there would have been. And there have been horrible kick-off times for some time. I can’t ever remember a club or its players protesting on behalf of the fans. Or did I miss something?

The End Of Football As We Know It – Earlier Versions

As I said above, I have been mentioning this topic for some time. Here’s a few snippets from a blog post I made back in September 2017:

As an example, the BBC are just as bad, but on a smaller scale. Not so long ago – 2015/16 season – Liverpool were drawn away to Exeter in the FA Cup 3rd Round. Well that’s not so bad for a Saturday 3pm kick-off. Oh, hang on, the game wasn’t played then. It was moved to the Friday night, 8th January.

As Liverpool fans frantically checked the travel itineraries, what did they find? Well, the last train leaving Exeter for Liverpool was scheduled for just before 9pm. Fancy watching the first half only anyone? To rub salt in the wounds, this train journey included 3 changes. Not to worry though, it would only take 10 hours and 45 minutes to get home!! Just in time to grab a breakfast bacon buttie at a Lime Street cafe before finally heading home.

The Clubs And The Players Aren’t Blameless

Of course the TV companies would not be able to suggest….sorry, TELL us about these ridiculous kick off times if our clubs weren’t complicit. I remember only too well our first moans about a silly kick off time. It was in the 1994/95 League Cup Final against Bolton. Two teams from the North West of England were to play at Wembley in London….late on a Sunday afternoon!!

Fortunately we won (the Steve McManaman Final) 2-0, so it softened the blow of the horrible journey back. You could only feel sorry for the Bolton fans though. The trip home was awful. Still, we thought, we’d put up with it if it was to be one-off. How wrong we were. I seem to recall that Roy Evans (Liverpool manager at the time) making some gesture comment at the time on behalf of the fans. Too little, too late.”

The Mounted Policeman’s Wisdom

Another occasion that sticks in the mind was when we played Sheffield Wednesday in 1994. The season after the standing Kop was knocked down. In The Kop’s place was a temporary, 4,000 seater stand. We were fortunate in that we were lucky enough to be one of the 4,000 to get a season ticket.

Waiting to get in against Sheffield Wednesday for some reason was more problematic than normal. We could hear YNWA anthem being played so we knew kick-off was close. But still thousands outside waiting to get in.

One fan in a display of common sense shouted to the policeman on horseback (they had them in those days), “Hey mate, why don’t you radio in and ask them to delay the kick-off as there’s so many still trying to get in.”

The policeman in an ever so sympathetic way (not!!) replied: “You’re season ticket holders aren’t you. They’ve had your money. Do you think that they’re bothered about you.”

True or not do you think? Maybe that is one extreme but I think it’s fair to say, the fans are always the last in line when the consideration cake is being divvied up.

Indeed, as can be seen, the treatment of match going football fans has been a problem for some time. Not only by the TV companies, but also, our own clubs have taken the proverbial. And for all the protestations by the players, they didn’t mind the extra money TV packages incorporating silly kick-off times gave them did they?

European Super League – Will It Actually Happen?

When the news was announced and the founder clubs named, straightaway I thought that this isn’t a breakaway of the best teams in Europe. No Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund? No, as everyone knows, in the main, it is a breakaway of the richest clubs. With the exception of PSG currently. Given the seemingly strong attraction to money PSG have, I do wonder why they aren’t in the original 12.

If it was about the best and most successful clubs down the years, then again, would you include Manchester City or Chelsea? Aren’t Everton a better consideration based on overall history or achievements? But it’s not about the most successful clubs though is it.

The Bayern Munich situation is interesting though isn’t it. Like all Bundesliga clubs, Bayern are 51% fan owned. So, the controlling interests lie with the fans. Is this the real reason that Bayern are not one of the founder member clubs? Have the fan members done what all other fan groups would do and that is see the European Super League for what it is and refused to join? I can’t imagine Bayern not being invited. When the fallout continues, a statement from Bayern will be one of the most interesting to tune into I would imagine.

Again based on successful big clubs, what about Benfica and Porto? Or Ajax? There may be others I’ve missed, but you get the gist.

So, will the European Super League happen? Or is it a protest or a threat by these 12 clubs to try and squeeze more money out of UEFA? If that is the case and the ESL doesn’t happen, then how would this benefit the fans? You know the ones I mean. Those important people that so many of the indignant voices are (supposedly) speaking on behalf of.

European Super League – Watch This Space

Apart from Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid President and the European Super League Chairman elect (or is he actually the ESL President as well already?), there hasn’t been any voices coming forward yet from the 12 speaking out in support of the ESL. Well, none that I’ve heard anyway. No comment from John Henry, one of the supposed Vice Chairman. Nor from the other Vice Chairmen, Joel Glazier or Stan Kroenke. Is it a coincidence that these are all Americans?

Perez says that the European Super League will save football. How so? He says that his club, Real Madrid, are losing money. Again, how so? Isn’t it significant that his comments are focused on money. And not fans, clubs in the whole sport generally, nor players. But there again, the omission of players in this sort of statement is expected as it is because of the players (and their agents) clubs are losing money.

Players, their agents and ex-players will all say that of course they will take the money if offered to them. So, where does Perez think the bulk of all the extra money swishing around in the JP Morgan (American bankers) financially backed ESL will end up? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know the answer to that. The mega rich players becoming even richer. How is that saving football?

If Perez thinks he has problems balancing the books for Real Madrid, maybe he should take the reins of (take your pick) any of the clubs in the Spanish lower leagues. Or, any of our lower league clubs here in the UK.

European Super League – Is This Really The Answer?

Let’s take a closer look at Perez’s announcement that the European Super League will save football. Or, more specifically, let’s take a look at alternatives within the current structure. Some of this will horrify the players and their agents.

Here’s a thought. Why don’t the powers that be introduce a players wage cap? Not only that, why not put a cap on agents earnings? Pay them a fixed amount per transfer. Or, a fixed hourly rate. You know the sort of thing many of us have to do. Spend time on a particular job, record your hours, submit your hours for approval for payment at a fixed hourly rate, then get paid. Simple, effective and realistic. Why should the agents earn millions out of a player’s transfer? Why should a player be paid over and above a certain amount of an already luxury wage?

That last paragraph shows where the biggest drain on finances within the game is going. Why isn’t that being addressed? Why are the big clubs even thinking about chasing even more money to fuel already inflated bank accounts and egos?

Just imagine, with all the already existing TV money pouring in and players wages and agents fees are capped, where that extra money could go? Try, feeding it down to smaller clubs for instance? It can be structured in such a way as well. Rather than simply transfer monies to smaller clubs, why don’t the big clubs set up and finance proper football academies for smaller clubs?

Circulate Money Within The Game On Our Own Doorsteps

Keep the money within the game, within our own communities. What with the affect of the pandemic and Brexit, shouldn’t we be looking at taking care of what is closest to us right on our own doorsteps anyway? Ultimately, won’t the bigger clubs benefit anyway? Star players emerging out of smaller clubs academies being snapped up by the bigger clubs for transfer fees that provide a good income for the smaller clubs, but are not over inflated even for the big clubs.

Loan out U23 players from the big clubs to local, smaller clubs.

Of course overseas transfers can still happen, but that as well can be structured.

Another thing to consider is the proper use of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. Rumours were rife, are still rife, that certain clubs have blatantly broken the rules but “got away with it” on technicalities.

These are only ideas off the top of my head. There are many more suggestions of course. But the main point I’m making is that there is plenty that we can do within the current rules, regulations and constraints of the current systems etc that we can improve on before we even need to consider chasing even more money to be yet again distributed disproportionately.

European Super League – Let’s All Make A Stand

Yes, there’s been a lot of outcry about the proposed European Super League. Much widespread condemnation from many quarters. But let’s all do our bit. The fans have already had their say in many instances. Either through fan group statements, or the removal of banners from the stands (I don’t get that one myself as it harms the players mostly who have not taken us into this current situation), or flags and banners outside grounds, or comments on Social Media.

The fans are always the ones who suffer the most irrespective of the decision. So, let some of the other football parties show how much they really care. What about it then, players, agents, ex-players, the media generally, the TV companies specifically. Yes, let’s stop the introduction of a European Super League but let’s not just leave it at that. Why only stick on a sticking plaster when a bit of much needed surgery is required?

Let’s hope this is a wake up call for everyone involved in football and if there is such a fall out along the lines of something like a think tank to consider the wider remedies needed within the game, fan groups are an integral component of such a set up.

Thanks for reading my latest blog post. I did get a bit carried away, but I’ve let off a bit of steam along the way.

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