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English clubs Super League U-turn is too little, too late

Here’s the thing – nobody wanted a European Super League outside of the owners of the mega-clubs involved. Nobody asked for it, and nobody was consulted about it. So when the English clubs retracted their intentions to join, in the fans’ eyes it was too little, too late.

The damage has been done. Although how much damage we’re yet to see.

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As soon as the plans to join the league were made public, once the cat was out of the bag, that was it. Each respective club had declared that money was their prime motivating factor.

Not tradition, not the players. Not history, and certainly not the fans. Nope, the lure of the riches on offer was enough for each club to publicly secure their place as a “founding member” of what Boris Johnson described as “a cartel”.

“Sport is not a sport when the success is guaranteed, and when the relation between the effort and reward don’t exist. It’s not a sport when it doesn’t matter if you lose. It’s not fair if teams fight at the top and cannot qualify.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola on the questionable lack of competition and equality in the proposed Super League.

We’d never really bought into the idea that foreign owners somehow discovered an affinity for our clubs. But such a blatant declaration of priorities as this, was a stab in the heart for football fans everywhere.

Condemnation from all sides

The announcements came as a shock to us all, but for fans it was seismic. Initially players and managers of the clubs involved said little, but eventually began to voice their disgust at the idea.

“Pure greed” – Gary Neville was visibly angry after the plans for the European Super League were announced.

The anger from most fans was at the arrogance and greed of the clubs involved. The arrogance that they’d placed themselves in a closed club of teams. Teams that can never be relegated or removed from this pedestal they’d placed themselves on.

As UEFA and FIFA made it clear that any clubs involved might also be kicked out of their respective competitions, players had their say. In effect, they’d be taken out of the Champions League, the World Cup, and the Euros entirely against their will.

English clubs withdraw from the Super League idea

Fans have a very clear way of letting owners know how they feel. Normally it’s about transfer policy or a poor manager. But in the face of a very real threat to these clubs’ existence, fans had to take stronger action.

The protests up and down the country spoke loud and clear. And as players and prominent figures in the game added their voices to the condemnation, the English clubs involved in the Super League pulled out one-by-one.

“We know it will take time to restore your faith in what we are trying to achieve here at Arsenal but let us be clear that the decision to be part of the Super League was driven by our desire to protect Arsenal, the club you love, and to support the game you love through greater solidarity and financial stability.”

An Arsenal club statement attempting to explain why they wanted to be part of the Super League in the first place.

Irreparable damage to the bond between club and fans

It’s difficult to understand how deep a wound this whole fiasco has inflicted. As a Manchester United fan myself, I was genuinely upset at the news. My club, involved in this plastic competition and ignoring over a hundred years of history? It’s disgusting that the owners even contemplated it.

What it has done is highlight how deeply fans feel about their clubs. While we all acknowledge that it’s a business, there’s still a soul that needs to be preserved, whatever the cost.

The owners can spin all the publicity they like about “regrets” and “errors of judgment”. It’s all rubbish. There’s no erasing a statement of intent as big as ignoring a club’s history for money. That’s unforgivable, and irreversible.

The only solution, the only way of fixing this, is for the owners of each club to sell up and move on. That’s the right thing to do now, although they clearly have no concept of that.

For the millions of fans of all the clubs involved, getting rid of these parasites from their clubs will be the biggest challenge yet.

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© Mike Barclay at The Football Diary 2020