On a night of high drama that saw the proposed Super League topple, euphoric victory for supporter power and the pressure of the "left-behinds" was claimed but without a co-ordinated, unflinching and punitive response from the Premier League and Uefa against the rebel clubs and their naked money-grab, it won't count for much
VG Day (victory over greed) was declared yesterday as the abhorrent Super League was toppled by a combination of fan fury and the outrage felt in the boardrooms of those 14 Premier League clubs excluded from the money dam devised by the cartel dubbed the Dirty Dozen of Europe.
There was jubilation on Fulham Road outside Stamford Bridge, where protests by Chelsea fans brought it home to their owner the sheer scale of the popular disdain for the venture that he, Roman Abramovich, had hastily joined alongside five other rebel English clubs and media outlets were proclaiming a decisive victory for supporter power.
It was, indeed, quite the stirring groundswell of near unanimous opposition to a nakedly cynical proposal; testament to the power of a unified populous and the ferocity of the pride felt in the history, legacy and prestige of the English game. And it was magnificent to see Everton leading the way with the most forceful and articulate statement made by any of the jilted clubs, one gilded with the phrase “preposterous arrogance” to describe the very concept of a virtually exclusive playground for the “self-proclaimed Super Six”.
The Super League, concocted in Spain by the desperate president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, and seemingly driven from the United States by Fenway Sports Group, the Glazers and Stan Kroenke, was officially suspended in the early hours of Wednesday morning but it is, for all intents and purposes, dead for now without its six English representatives and, arguably, its biggest member in the form of Manchester United.
However, while a battle was won the war is far from over and without a co-ordinated and unflinching response from the Premier League and Uefa, nothing has changed yet. Aleksander Ceferin’s message after the first of the Judas 6 pulled the rip cord last night, where he said, “I am delighted to welcome [Manchester] City back to the European football family,” highlights the very real risk that the status quo could return very quickly unless punitive action is taken against these clubs.
As things currently stand in the wake of the proposed revamp of the Champions League that was ratified by Ceferin and his organisation yesterday, in 2024 Europe’s most high-profile tournament will reserve two spots for clubs with coefficients high enough to qualify them as one of the elite but who only finish in either a Europa League or Europa Conference League place in their domestic league. (It’s the outcome that many originally feared the rebel clubs were trying to ram through by using the Super League as a massive bargaining chip.)
Given the increased competition in England where there are six clubs who feel they have a divine right to the Champions League but only four places available, those extra places would be more likely to go to Premier League teams (at the expense of a “smaller” rival like an Everton, West Ham, or Leicester, perhaps), thereby ensuring something akin to a watered-down Super League by the backdoor.
It’s hard enough for all but the usual suspects to make it to the later, more lucrative stages of the Champions League already; blocking a route to actually qualify in the first place is a further step too far. Uefa must act in accordance with the caveat they included in these latest reforms that “potential adjustments to the format approved could still be made if necessary,” and, at the very least, remove those “VIP passes” reserved for clubs of “historic significance” to the Champions League and return more fair competition to the tournament.
Back on the domestic front, it’s unthinkable that the rebel six clubs, who flagrantly violated Rule L9 of the Premier League charter, could be allowed to simply come back into the fold as if nothing has happened. They have shown their face; massively over-reached and been humiliated but if the bald-faced but unpunished power grab that was Project Big Picture from a few months ago wasn’t evidence enough, the Super League betrayal clearly illustrated the hubris, self-entitlement and lust for more money on the part of these owners… which means they’ll try it again unless they’re brought to heel.
Their “Super Leave” from the “Super Greed” may have lessened the impulse to kick them out of the Premier League but it cannot simply close the book on a whirlwind episode in the domestic game’s modern history, with normality swiftly resuming. Because this proposal may not have been as far away from succeeding as it seems. It might only have taken the participation of, say, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and AS Roma to provide sufficient cover and momentum to the Super League plan that it could have ridden through the dissent and become horrifying reality.
And had it succeeded, it stood to cause potentially irreparable damage to the value of the domestic leagues and those clubs not party to regular participation on the billionaires’ playground. Most significantly of all for Evertonians, had the shameful six’s actions either prompted their expulsion from the Premier League or caused a growing degradation in the value of the English top flight’s broadcast deals as competition for the top places diminished, it would have threatened the viability of Everton’s Bramley-Moore Dock stadium.
The ramifications of the collapse of a project worth an estimated £1.3bn to the city of Liverpool — ironically caused in part by the club bearing its name — would be keenly felt at a time when a construction and potential infrastructure project of this kind is badly needed in the region. And the Blues’ painstakingly-laid plan to build a path back to the top echelons of football would be critically compromised.
It’s for all of these reasons that there must be real penalties imposed on these six clubs by the Premier League and Uefa, be that hefty fines, points deductions that ensure that their prize money is distributed around the other 14, or bans from the European tournaments for a long enough period to redress their coefficients and depress their bloated revenues.
The owners who initiated this damaging exercise need to be forced out by their supporters or brow-beaten into respecting the culture of the sport they have bought into... although it could be that the vaporisation of their gravy train prompts them to move on anyway.
It would be premature to declare, as Sam Wallace does in The Telegraph, that “the power-grab reforms of the wealthiest clubs and their owners … have been defeated for a generation and maybe even longer,” when a failure to exact punishment would simply embolden them for another assault on the structure of the game down the line.
Beyond that, this fiasco has presented a rare catalyst for fundamental change, to not only address the financial disparities in the game but also usher in permanent structural changes in the governance of English clubs. The Government’s commitment to a fan-led review of the ownership of teams, including exploring the adoption of the “50-plus-one” rule used in Germany that ensures each Bundesliga club is majority owned by supporters, offers a vital opportunity to achieve this, either directly or by way of pushing the clubs towards it.
Britain’s Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, vowed that, “we must make sure this never happens again,” so it’s imperative that power of the moment is harnessed and that the inevitable dissipation of the anger and hurt at what these clubs tried to do to the “left-behinds”, the world’s most popular and competitive league, and the entire football pyramid below, doesn’t lessen the drive for change.
This was a euphoric victory for ordinary fans and the English game; the fight can’t have been for nought.
Reader Comments (32)
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1 Posted 21/04/2021 at 07:43:12
Nothing will happen to them. You don't kill the golden goose and UEFA and the EPL know that.
Do things that have favoured the biggest clubs get rolled back, or basically will they continue to get their way by stealth?
Do they still get their way keeping the vast majority of overseas TV money, or is it shared more evenly for 'fair' competition?
Do they continue to push for bigger matchday squads, that keeps more players happy â€“ and avoids talent going into poorer team squads?
Does FFP get stopped? An arbitrary system that said "It's okay, Chelsea and Man City, you can spend like a bandit before hand, but it's a closed shop thereafter." It protects clubs? No, it doesn't; it protects the current privileged that no one can crash into their party.
How about Uefa â€“ are they going to push back? Or are they going to design things so more money goes to the rich clubs? With past successes providing a get-out-of-jail card for free entry to the Champions League when clubs fuck up.
It was a victory today. But don't lose sight that they get their way by stealth. The league table practically picks itself by financial turnover.
Yes, surprises happen. But can anyone actually see what the likes of Brian Clough did at Nottm Forest again? The first bit of success that an oddball team had, would be plundered quicker than you can say Ngolo Kante.
2 Posted 21/04/2021 at 07:44:59
Points deductions isn't a way forward in my view, but banning them from European football for a decent period say 5 years would have a sobering effect on future ambitions of the Greedy Dozen.
Now I understand too hefty a sanction could have a counter-productive effect and force them to take up similar positions, but the reaction needs to be swift and definite.
3 Posted 21/04/2021 at 08:08:11
4 Posted 21/04/2021 at 08:20:41
5 Posted 21/04/2021 at 08:21:56
6 Posted 21/04/2021 at 08:30:03
"We are proposing a new European competition because the existing system does not work. "Our proposal is aimed at allowing the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the full football pyramid, including helping to overcome the financial difficulties experienced by the entire football community as a result of the pandemic. "It would also provide materially enhanced solidarity payments to all football stakeholders. "Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions.
"Our proposal is aimed at allowing the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the full football pyramid, including helping to overcome the financial difficulties experienced by the entire football community as a result of the pandemic.
"It would also provide materially enhanced solidarity payments to all football stakeholders.
"Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions.
"Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community."
What these elitists want is to re-shape the game by pandering to the broadcasters to have more advertising during the games, probably by having four quarters rather than two halves, and other such ridiculous ideas.
They will try and bribe the less-rich clubs and offer some semblance of a pyramid-style league, but ultimately it will become a super league that continues to benefit the few at the expense of the many.
As far as I can see, there are two ways to address the financial issues of the game: cut costs or increase revenues. The former is seen as sporting suicide by the elite and the latter is seen as unpalatable by many people if only a few clubs take the greatest share of the TV revenues etc.
How all of this talk about a super league, in whichever guise it eventually takes, affects the likes of Everton FC and its ambitions is yet to be seen, but it may result in the club having to re-adjust its timelines and priorities, in the near term.
For business, uncertainty is the enemy, and that uncertainty has increased in the last 24 hours. I would have preferred the silly six to have gone for it and watched from the sidelines as the super league disappeared up its own backside.
Doubtless Sky and other broadcasters will declare that they have come up with a rescue package that will save the game from itself but, as the broadcasters have been the main driving force for change, it likely won't benefit the ordinary fan in any way, not even those that support the clubs with elitist tendencies.
7 Posted 21/04/2021 at 08:41:24
How we do that will have a potential massive effect on Everton's potential recovery to our rightful spot but also ensure that other ambitious clubs take the prize for their toils. The challenge is on...
8 Posted 21/04/2021 at 08:49:41
Then it's 14 trusted, honest and reliable members can go about creating a new fairer and binding charter along with fans groups, the FA and independent regulator. Then any club who wants to play in the Premier League will have to sign it.
These Greedy Six have proved that, at the moment, they are not “fit and properâ€ to be making any decisions on the future of the Premier League. Their malign, subversive and secretive actions have totally forfeited their right to have a say on how the Premier League is run in the short term. Surely that has to be a fair and direct consequence .
No-one should forget, these clubs are traitors. Anything less than this sanction is weakness in the extreme, and giving in to them.
9 Posted 21/04/2021 at 09:16:28
The Premier League is very much diminished without these 6 teams and so we need to give them a route back. However, the consequence of their actions should be the end of the VIP pass back door into this new format.
10 Posted 21/04/2021 at 09:27:16
Undoubtedly, the opportunity will be largely or wholly wasted.
11 Posted 21/04/2021 at 09:27:24
If they keep on trying â€“ and they will â€“ but only get slapped down, then they're no worse off for the trying. Regroup, wait a bit, and try again.
Hit them in the bottom line â€“ it's all they know.
12 Posted 21/04/2021 at 10:00:05
Perhaps more important that sanctions is re-structuring of the English & Welsh game so that income is more fairly distributed across the pyramid, and entrenched in legislation so that this kind of proposal is simply not permitted in future.
By fairer income distribution, I would suggest greater sharing of European revenues with the Premier League and greater sharing of Premier League revenues with the lower tiers to try and reduce the income gap between (1) the Champions League teams and the other the Premier League teams and (2) the Premier League teams and the Championship teams.
This will make the Premier League more competitive and make it easier for newly promoted teams to survive in the Premier League, and easier for relegated teams to stay in business.
If English clubs find it harder to win the Champions League in the future so be it but actually by making the Premier League fairer this will make it a more attractive product so should increase revenue further compared to the other European leagues which are hopelessly uncompetitive.
13 Posted 21/04/2021 at 10:11:08
The ESL teams had a point about the globalization of the European game. I have seen just as much passion about a Manchester United match on TV in Lusaka as I ever have here, or a level of interest in Manchester City in a hotel in Abu Dhabi as anything likely to be seen in Mancland (well, it was that amazing match against QPR).
Arabs and Africans (and I've no doubt Thais and Vietnamese) regard football support as part of their rite of passage into the global rather than local community, and I'd be delighted if this sharing of the discoveries for harmless joy we've made continues and grows.
However, what the recent debacle also shows is that there are appetites for both national and continent-wide tournaments, and currently only the UK has more than a couple of teams of quality, and even here with the weird and probably temporary phenomenon of Leicester, it's the same few teams year after year.
Since someone from Sharjah, Johannesburg or Saigon (as the locals all call it) doesn't have a local team of any standing, and since they are unlikely to have a relation who was born in Brum and supports Villa, but they do want to share the passion and fun of being a supporter, pretty much their only options are Man Utd, Barca, Liverpoool or Chelsea so they latch on to one of these.
The best solution would be to open up the choices and at the same time make much better competitions.
My rough sketch for an answer would be to have European leagues alongside the national leagues with midweek matches matched with weekend matches. Fixture congestion could be tackled by eliminating a few cups (NOT the FA Cup) and most of the internationals. All members of each of the European top divisions (with replacement) would participate and there would be a whole array of leagues with (say) 10-12 teams in each. Over the period of a few seasons, with promotion of the top three or four teams each round, these would start to form a hierarchy. By 2030 there would be two entirely parallel systems running season by season with all clubs which wished to participate (some might simply not wish to bother) operating in two different competitions.
Everything would be televised (as it already is) and matches could be sold globally. Smart European teams would seek to build fan bases in different parts of the world and seek to include supporters who could be nurtured locally, thus increasing revenue and support. I look forward to the Maputo Baggies fans celebrating Big Sam saving them from the Premier League drop, and their success in winning Division C of the European Football League by beating Grasshopper Zurich.
This would allow any top tier team which wished to to participate in European football, and while we might once again have a series of teams dominating the top European league, there would be opportunities for the likes of Brighton, Fulham and West Brom to have success in lower European divisions while being mediocre at home.
The clubs would need to maintain squads capable of participating in a two-match-a-week schedule, but something like this would greatly expand the reach of clubs across Europe to the rest of the world, and provide another level of interest for supporters.
14 Posted 21/04/2021 at 10:34:20
Liverpool clearly have no interest in the rest of us, only themselves and, judging from the early posts I saw on RAWK, many of their supporters were happy to jump on board the ESL rather than "get left behind".
Sadly, this will be swept under the carpet and the clubs welcomed back into the fold with arse-licking alacrity by the same people who were slagging them off 10 minutes ago (stand up Carra, Gary Neville, Sky Sports, Uefa etc).
If the authorities were really listening to the grass-roots fans, they'd scrap the Champions League changes in favour of a return to an open draw in which Liverpool could face Bayern Munich in the first round rather than be kept apart long enough to fill their pockets sufficiently to dominate for another season.
15 Posted 21/04/2021 at 11:01:21
A small points deduction this season (5-10 points per team), a substantial fine and huge suspended penalties for any club who does something similar in the next 5 years. Could even have a 1 window transfer ban.
16 Posted 21/04/2021 at 11:20:55
I understand the argument that "innocent" fans (and managers and players) should not be punished because of the actions of the owners. But, for example, when somebody is sent to prison, there are usually innocent family members, spouses and children, who suffer.
It would be regrettable (perhaps!) if the "innocent" fans of the grubby 6 were to suffer through sanctions imposed on the clubs. But I believe that not only the owners of these clubs knew what was going on but senior administrators.
As the guardians of their clubs, they have responsibility for the interests of their whole family â€“ any sanctions possible that harm the rest of the family might be regrettable but were avoidable. Do the crime, do the time.
17 Posted 21/04/2021 at 12:08:32
Spot-on, mate, I couldn't agree more.
18 Posted 21/04/2021 at 12:25:12
19 Posted 21/04/2021 at 12:59:28
20 Posted 21/04/2021 at 13:06:32
Then introduce a salary cap into the EPL to try and make it more competitive. And finally, tell Sky to stop sucking up to these arrogant bastards and treat all teams with the same respect and give them equal air time. Oh yes I nearly forgot lets get back to at least 7 games at 3 o'clock on a Saturday. As Sky keep agreeing with the statement - The Games Belongs To The Fans - it shouldn't be to hard for them. Should it ?
21 Posted 21/04/2021 at 13:12:41
22 Posted 21/04/2021 at 13:15:16
23 Posted 21/04/2021 at 13:18:01
Owners are the custodians of their clubs, and when they drag their clubs through the dirt then it is the clubs that suffer the consequences. That's why the fit-and-proper test for incoming owners is so important.
I'd suggest 3 steps need to be taken against these 12 teams.
1) UEFA need to remove the 2 VIP passes from the upcoming Champions League plans. These were concessions to the Super League clubs to avoid a breakaway - and it happened anyway. Stop appeasing these clubs; their bargaining power and credibility has never been lower.
2) The PL, La Liga and Serie A need to implement immediate point deductions. Not enough to relegate them - why shoot yourself in the foot financially? - but enough to ensure they don't qualify for European competition next season. 20 points should do it. They didn't want to be in the Champions League 48 hours ago... Mission accomplished.
3) The remaining 14 PL clubs should refuse to do business with the 6 for the next season. Don't let them trim their wage bills and recoup their losses by flogging their cast offs. No inflated 㿊m Iwobis or 㿀m Brewsters this summer. Let's see an informal transfer embargo that hits the owners in their pockets.
24 Posted 21/04/2021 at 15:24:16
Bull it's called out in Lyndon's article. Winning a battle doesn't win the war.
I apologise for repeating myself on multiple threads on this subject on this site, but this was a sneaky and deliberate aggressive tactic to fire the first warning shots of intent.
Fortunately the universal backlash from fan the government enabled UEFA and the Premier League to fire back a block.
But make no bones, this will come back. It might be called something different, it might compromise to a degree, but it will be back only this time UEFA will be at the table.
In some ways, the shamed 6 have achieved their first objective of the war / campaign.
25 Posted 21/04/2021 at 15:38:32
Points deductions would be an idea but you are punishing the manager, players, coaching staff and the supporters who had nothing to do with this super league, and you are punishing the innocent to get to the guilty.
Although banning these clubs from entering any European competitions is another idea, once again you are punishing the innocents to get to the guilty.
I don't now what sanctions or punishment can be put against the individuals who are responsible for this, but the one thing that they cannot hide from is the stigma and shame from what they are responsible for, and
hopefully there is some way that they can be punished, and start by naming the executives who attended the premier league meetings with the knowledge that they would be leaving the premier league the following season.
The only people who can put pressure on the owners are the supporters, and I am sure that their are supporters out there who were not happy with how their club was run before this attack on the supporters of football was started.
26 Posted 21/04/2021 at 15:54:15
27 Posted 21/04/2021 at 17:25:31
I just hope the Bog Six ( Gobshites my Dad has called them ), are not allowed to come back into the fold as though nothing has happened. Forgive and Forget ? No - Not on this occasion.
28 Posted 21/04/2021 at 23:52:18
It could be that the effects of Covid have put them under sever financial pressure and the Super League was seen as a desperate remedy. The whole thing has backfired with Clubs with lesser debt Man City and Chelsea abandoning the project first.
As well has reputational damage and a loss of power in the existing competition authorities they are in, they have maybe worsened their financial situation where confidence is everything.
It is very likely that the Authorities will want to push home their advantage, with less say than before from these Clubs. it is essential that they do , as Lyndon says. The proposed changes in the Champions League are a similar ploy
to the Super League and must be stopped.
This has to be their punishment, rather than direct sanctions, leaving them on their own appeasing their Financial backers, who will now be more difficult to talk to. Rather than at other Clubs expense.
29 Posted 22/04/2021 at 00:17:27
Voting rights and perhaps sponsorship restrictions could substitute for points deductions but the fines should definitely happen and don't be shy about it. We would like to weight the penalty as much toward the decision makers as possible but we won't be taking the crocodile tears of Shite Fan into consideration.
30 Posted 22/04/2021 at 13:39:46
"Legacy" supporters, as these owners term people like us, can be ignored. It was telling that, in one news bulletin I watched, while good honest English "legacy" supporters were roundly condemning their owners, a Chinese "fan" of Inter Milan was proclaiming what a great idea this was. He didn't want to watch Inter playing Verona when they could be playing Barca or Man Utd every week.
These sporting capitalists have destroyed grassroots cricket, so that Lancashire members never see Jos Buttler or Jimmy Anderson playing for their county (though such players still want a "loyalty" benefit). Football is no different; eventually, these owners of the Big 6 will jump away from the Premier League, they'll do it even sooner if Sky et alia try to squeeze them on broadcasting payments. Capitalism is about profit.
I'm an Evertonian who's supported them since 1953-54 when they were in the Second Division. However, despite that, I'm not the backbone of Everton: Moshiri is. I don't really count, Moshiri paid the money, he basically, through the illusion of a Board of Directors, decides everything and I either go along with his ideas or I try to stop supporting this club. When fans declare that this club belongs to them and this applies to every club, they are fooling themselves. Football clubs belong to the money men, the supporters are fairly irrelevant, I'm afraid... and remember, as Shakespeare put it: "A dog is obeyed in office."
31 Posted 24/04/2021 at 13:37:32
Boris Johnson may have climbed on board the wagon but he can't bring in laws to act retrospectively. The government now has a chance to introduce new regulations to prevent the next battle happening.
32 Posted 29/04/2021 at 12:50:06
1) Just about all clubs in the entire football league have been pursuing similar unsustainable business models for years, with the vast majority of clubs spending way too much of their turnover on player salaries. The arms race to secure promotion (or avoid relegation) exacerbates this reckless behaviour.
2) The collapse of the ESL really should trigger major changes in the way football club and league finances are organised to prevent the majority of clubs (at al levels) from continuing to rack up unsustainable debts
3) Without such changes, expect the same unsustainable business models to persist, which will continue to drive lower league clubs to the brink and create pressures on the "big clubs" to breakaway.
4) Instead of importing the concept of closed leagues from the US, the ESL clubs should have considered importing wage caps instead. This is the only way to create a financially stable football league pyramid. The US NFL teams get together and agree such a wage cap and operate well in the black. The FA/EFL and EPL clubs need to do the same. Even if the ESL clubs broke away in the future, without such controls on spending, they'd just end up in exactly the same place massive debt.
5) Perhaps another way of controlling spending is to have fan ownership. Whilst most fans are complicit in encouraging never ending spending from their club's owners (and driving their club into more debt), as soon as they themselves become majority owners, and have visibility and understanding of their club's finances, perhaps common sense on spending will prevail.
6) This might sound corny as hell, but the proposed ESL clubs need to recognise that EVERYTHING that they are, EVERYTHING that they have ever achieved, is because they have been part of the greatest football league system in the world, in the country that invented the sport. From Swindon Town to Notts Forest, from Sheffield Weds to Everton, every club plays an equal part in that system. The ESL proposal would drive a dagger through the heart of that system, and that is why I found it so abhorrent.
So to summarise, I'd like to see clubs operating in the black (as they used to long ago), competing fairly (as always), and more money flowing to the lower leagues. I guess this means a little less money for the superstars, and a bit more money for the lower league players and staff.
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