What a week for football fans.
On a certain Sunday, it looked like the sport we love would be destroyed forever.
The European Super League was agreed to by all 12 clubs involved. It appeared all hope was lost. Then, the fans fought back. They protested, canvassed, and proclaimed their betrayal to the rich and greedy owners who were looking to change modern football for the benefit of their own pockets.
In the end, the fans won. We all won.
This is a brief look at the rise and fall of the Super League.
The Super League idea didn’t come out of left field. Real Madrid chairman Florentino Perez had been working on a plot to form an elite league with only the biggest clubs in the world for years. Perez actually first introduced the plan to the clubs involved back in January of this year but at that time nothing looked imminent. Fast forward to this week and all of a sudden we have reports coming out from the BBC that the Super League is all but finalized and the “big 6” Premier League clubs are fully locked in.
Let me clarify, that’s big 6 historically.
Pretty much every football fan understands that Arsenal and Tottenham don’t belong in the same breath as Real Madrid at the moment. Anyway, each of these clubs put out statements informing fans of their intention to join the league and thus break away from the traditional UEFA continental competitions. My first reaction was one of complete and utter embarrassment. As a Chelsea fan, I couldn’t believe that the owners of my beloved club would be willing to put aside 115 years of Champions League and Premier League history for the purpose of making more money.
The Super League was never built to “save football for all clubs” as Perez claimed, it was meant to destroy and diminish the success of every other team except those in the Super League.
I felt embarrassed to be a fan of a club that was willing to do such a horrible thing to the sport. I’m sure many of you felt the same way. Over time, my embarrassment turned to outrage as are more details about the ramifications of this league came out. No international competitions for the players, no relegation, no qualification based on domestic league finishes.
The Super League was set up in a way to make the most money possible without fear of revenues ever dropping. In other words, the American sporting system. It’s no coincidence that four out of the six EPL clubs in the proposed Super League have strong American influence. The Super League would’ve ruined football as we know it. Thankfully, the fans fought back.
The day following the Super League announcement was characterized by fan protests both on social media and in-person outside Premier League grounds. #SayNoToSuperLeague was trending on Twitter as more and more lovers of the game joined together to try to stop the plan. Players for Leeds United wore shirts bearing the phrase “Football is for the fans” before their match against Liverpool. Whether they could fully say it or not, the players were against the Super League just like the fans. Late in the day on Monday, there were some murmurs about one or two of the Super League clubs having second thoughts about the proposal, however, at that time, no one was willing to completely drop out.
Then came Tuesday. Prior to Chelsea’s match against Brighton, hundreds of fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge to voice their opposition to the Super League.
They were out there for hours, threatening to block the team busses from arriving at the ground. Who knows what really was going on in the mind of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, but something must have clicked when he saw how passionately his team’s fans felt about their participation in the Super League.
At long last on Tuesday afternoon, reports indicated that Chelsea were preparing to drop out of the Super League. The fans outside Stamford Bridge rejoiced as did fans of many other clubs because finally, it looked like the walls were crumbling down. Shortly thereafter, Man City dropped out followed by Man United.
By the end of the day, all 6 Premier League clubs had formally announced their decision to dissociate themselves from Perez and any current Super League plans. It was a massive win for fans everywhere as finally, the greedy, money-hungry owners of Britain’s biggest clubs bowed down to the fans.
As I write this article, more clubs from around Europe are dropping out of the Super League. I think it’s fair to say by the end of the day, the Super League plan will be completely dissolved. The fallout will be massive. Long ridiculed vice-chairman of Man United Ed Woodward has already announced he will be stepping down from his position at the end of the year.
Reports indicate that Perez and Juventus president Andrea Agnelli might also step down. UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin has stated that the clubs involved will face punishment for their actions.
We’ll never forget these last couple of days.
I hope that what has transpired this week sends a message to football owners around the world that no matter how much money is involved in this beautiful game, football will always be the sport of the fans.
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