The UK has countless historic football clubs with glorious histories and fanbases that in many cases have at least three generations of supporters.
Each football club and its supporters were shaped by the values and ethics of its first generation and its then local community, with these values then transmitted to the next generation. A single club is representing all the fights and sacrifices that those fans made in an effort just to see their local team play each week. The existence of those bonds and the emotional investment placed by the fans is what further shapes our love for the sport.
The introduction of the new European Super League by Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez would suggest that drastic changes to the footballing world as we have known it. Perez and the other 11 involved presidents used as an excuse the economic damage that was caused by the pandemic in which, many of the big clubs saw their profits cut in half for the last year.
Using this as an excuse to forfeit from UEFA’s existing Champions League format, the clubs formed their own European Super League, where they would compete with on another in an increasingly global spectacle. The initial 3.5bn euro investment in this huge competition was set to be covered by the investment group, JP Morgan, with each club receiving a 400m euro loan repayable in 23 years.
The reactions and some protests among the supporters were of course expected. They took place before the matchday games (Leeds vs Liverpool, Chelsea vs Brighton) in the form of peaceful protests. However, this was backed by a social media frenzy, where fans expressed their dissatisfaction against the newly formed league.
Posts and images stating “created by the poor, stolen by the rich” and “you have ruined our game” began to trend on social media platforms. Gary Neville emerged as a cult hero after voicing his disgust at the greed of top six clubs’ owners.
Moreover, UEFA and FIFA acted on their terms by threatening the twelve clubs with disqualification from European competitions as a necessary action.
The response was more than beautiful, with Chelsea the first team to withdraw from the European Super League, and Manchester City soon to follow. The rest of top six clubs then decided to step down, with European giants joining soon after.
As an idea The European Super League may have lasted only two days, but the realisations behind the movement will be much longer lasting.
Money will always be a threat to our game if the concentration of resources exists within only a few top European teams. Smaller teams need to be protected by the existing leagues through a range of governing structures and a greater understanding by all involved in the pyramid structure.
With more financially viable sponsorships the gap between huge football clubs and lower league teams can shrink. However, this situation has taught us that fans are still the base of the sport, and that their opinion still counts – over a century of football evolution cannot be changed by 12 individuals. Thus, for once, the money did not ruin our game.