Big Nev: Super League will be back again because greed in football is not new

Wednesday, 21 April, 2021 1comment  |  Jump to last
"The owners got to the top precisely by stamping on the little ones so why is everyone surprised when they want more power and more cash?" asks Everton great Neville Southall.

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Michael Cartwright
1 Posted 22/04/2021 at 18:01:27
So the Super League has ended, not with a bang but a whimper.

An unlikely alliance of fans, players, managers and politicians appears to have brought about the collapse of the project. Even the bumbling man-child of Downing Street has got in on the act. The man who, only a few weeks ago, was telling anyone who would listen that greed and capitalism were saving the world, was now complaining about cartels and clubs being the "playthings of bankers". If only Ed Woodward had gone to Eton – he might have had Boris's phone number.

But has the Super League really gone away? Not according to Real Madrid President, Florentina Perez. He says it is merely on standby. Rather than a revolution, the ESL is an evolution, the latest in a series of power grabs by a self-appointed elite.

The Premier League itself was one such power grab by the then Big Five - which ironically included Everton, but not Manchester City or Chelsea. Indeed the original blueprint for the Premier League abolished promotion and relegation.

The truth is that football clubs are no longer reliant on their traditional fan base for their income. The Spartan diehards who would sit through the pouring rain, dejectedly clutching a damp sausage roll, while watching two teams play out a turgid 0-0 draw, have been replaced by a new generation of clickbait fans. Sitting at home, immune to the vagaries of the weather, waiting for the Deliveroo man, they'll give a game 10 minutes before switching over to the delights of indoor netball from Baluchistan.

Like it or not, the TV audience for 6th place Liverpool against 9th place Arsenal will always be greater than that for 3rd place Leicester versus 5th place West Ham.
So, if you are the owner of a "Top Six" club, it is only natural that you should seek a greater share of the broadcasters' revenues.

Football was never a level playing field and the rise of the Premier League has only emphasised that. Since its inception, there have only been seven different Champions, and the FA Cup, depressingly, has only been won three times by teams outside the "Big Six" – and that is despite Spurs having won neither trophy since 1991. In the light of that, it is not surprising that Perez can say with apparent confidence that the Super League is merely on standby.

In March, in his role as Fifa's Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger resuscitated the idea of a World Cup every two years. The only way, however, to achieve this would be to "completely reorganise the calendar", and to "kick out" the "lesser competitions". What better way of doing this than by reducing the fixtures for "elite" clubs who provide the majority of the world's top players?

Wenger says "People must understand what is at stake and only have games with meaning." Does that ring any alarm bells? What possible meaning could Crystal Palace v Brighton have to someone like Arsene Wenger?

Celebrate while you can... but don't believe that the ESL has gone away.

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