There was no small irony in the fact that, while football outlined its reaction to the blatantly closed shop that is the European Super League, one of its elite members was stoppage time at home against Fulham.
Still, we can at least safely predict who will be 12th out of the self-proclaimed Big 12. And for Arsenal, let’s face it, that’s a step higher. At the moment they are the ninth best team in England alone, although that will be the eleventh best team if the players win among the matches. That’s what permeates this whole despicable episode.
The total disdain the protagonists have for the rest of the game. Especially for the fans, but for the clubs, the players, the coaches, the history and traditions; for the broader purpose, for the national team, the football pyramid, for all that football has meant for communities and society, spanning two centuries.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are the six
It’s just money to them. It’s just one big revenue stream. And by taking this step, Arsenal think they are so much better than the likes of Fulham, or Leicester, or West Ham, or Leeds, or Aston Villa. They just don’t like to have to prove it. And when the European Super League comes, they won’t.
A plastic match, watched by plastic fans, of plastic clubs. Forget the past, forget the Busby Babes, or the highs, forget Istanbul or the doubles. These could just as well be new clubs, in a new league, and newly molded, in plastic.
A competition that no one else can enter; a competition that you cannot get out of, no matter how useless you are. The end of meritocracy. That’s plastic. A plastic closed shop that only the most superficial glory hunters would find distracting. That’s why the venture capitalist owners of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool love it so much.
They know the price of everything and the value of nothing, as Oscar Wilde said. He, of course, defined cynicism. He could have described Messrs Henry, Glazer and Kroenke and their worthless acolytes. Last night’s chubby statement, full of fake football pyramid concerns, was the most cynical exercise of all.
A nauseating, selfish attempt at justification for what is essentially nothing more than a coup attempt and which, it is hoped, will be received and rejected with the scorn it deserves. They should all be kicked out of their leagues and UEFA league this season, right now, and negotiate on the outside.
Manchester United icon Gary Neville quashed proposed plan as an ‘absolute scandal’
Their players from national tournaments, their owners the pariahs of the game. What about the professionals who are in the middle of this? Do you think Thomas Tuchel signed up for this vision of pure greed?
Do you think when he arrived at Chelsea, he dreamed of winning a league that had no merit, had no history, was crafted by opportunists from the United States to suck football dry, based on a frozen moment in the time?
Like Jurgen Klopp, like Jose Mourinho, like Pep Guardiola, Tuchel is said to have been drawn to England by his competitive domestic competition, drawn by the challenge of competing against the best and best teams in Europe.
Not in a league stripped of clubs from his own country, from Paris St Germain, from any team from the east, from an emerging challenger like Atalanta or RB Leipzig, from a promising young coach, from drama, from upset, from legendary names such as Ajax, Kiev, Celtic and Benfica.
God, it sounds bland. The same cabal of co-conspirators, endlessly repeating the same boring match-ups, shown to a distant, global audience on made-up pay-per-view. Who wants to see that? You not? Do something about it.
The UEFA Champions League is under serious threat from a leading group of the best teams
It was the backlash from the common supporters that killed the 39th game proposal, and it can kill this too. Once the clubs realize how isolated they are, how unpopular this competition will be, how far it will alienate the important local fan base, they have little choice but to rethink. Still, this requires focus.
On social media there was far too much childish onemanship on Saturday. Tottenham a big club? Arsenal a member of the elite? Ha ha. It’s bigger than that. This is important. This is about the essence of sports competition. It’s not just a pile about oil money or Russian oligarchs, or 60 years without a title.
This threatens the very existence of English football, its exciting ability to change, to evolve. That makes it special. The rise of Leicester as a force. A season in the sun for West Ham. The fact that a big six makes it into a top four doesn’t create an exciting sense of danger every season.
That’s why this is the most watched competition in the world: because those on top have to be good. And in the European Super League, that simple fact will no longer hold true. Failure has no consequences; there will be no incentive to improve. A club can stagnate and it makes no difference. It’s not about excellence or raising standards.
This is a competition that rewards mediocrity, in which the protagonists don’t have to be ambitious, just greedy enough to want to get into it. Manchester City and Chelsea were the last to sign up and were considered the most reluctant. And that is probably true.
European giants Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich have opposed the proposal
If it were up to City and Chelsea, a European Super League probably wouldn’t be on the table, as it’s a proposal driven by pure greed, and those clubs have owners whose motivation goes beyond wealth. They want glory, they want prestige; and they have to be inside to get that. But it doesn’t excuse them.
The city has resisted the closed shop for years and then, at the first opportunity, signed up for a shop. No doubt they were afraid of being out when the drawbridge was lifted again. But that is not a limitation. Join the resistance.
There are always practical reasons to work together, but it cannot go both ways. The city has forfeited the right to be separated from the cabal after this. Paris St Germain turned out to have more moral fiber. Bayern Munich too. Who would have thought that?
Actually there is an idea. UEFA should now award PSG the Champions League 2020-21. Expel the other three semi-finalists, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City, all of whom have plotted against the interests of UEFA and European football. Same with the Premier League. The Big Six, all gone.
Leicester and West Ham battle for the title, Everton, Leeds and Aston Villa get on track. Cancel the Carabao Cup Final, because why would the EFL award a trophy to one of the two clubs whose greed threatens to destroy their crown jewel competition, the only reason they sit at the broadcasters’ table?
The American owners of Manchester United (LR) Joel and Avram Glazer are behind the plans
And it turns out that Leicester against Southampton was actually the FA Cup final and Leicester won. Won’t happen, but wouldn’t it be interesting if those at the top were so bold? This escape only works by not being a real escape at all.
By staying in the domestic competitions, but turning the most prestigious end of the European market into a closed shop and confiscating all the money. That’s the most disgusting. The bare right of it.
We want the best of what you have, but you can’t have anything we have. Eat cake and eat it. And take your cake and eat that too. As a group they are disgusting.
Yet chinks of light, of hope remain. It was reported in Italy on Saturday that streaming network DAZN, owned by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, which owns the rights to Serie A, was one of the main protagonists behind the European Super League.
Within hours of this breach, the following statement appeared: ‘With regard to a report by Corriere dello Sport on Sunday, these and related reports are incorrect. Neither DAZN nor Mr. Blavatnik are in any way involved or interested in entering into discussions on the creation of a Super League and no talks have taken place. ‘
Juventus president Andrea Agnelli (above) is said to have played an important role in the plan
Was DAZN nervous about the general feeling of disgust? Were they afraid of losing customers? And would a similar concern affect other potential broadcast partners?
If Sky feared rejection because of such an alliance, if Amazon or Disney had little faith in the acquisition, would they also avoid this plastic competition and its hideous inhabitants?
And where would it be? Backed by £ 4.6 million of JP Morgan money, payback time dependent on projected broadcast revenues. What if we all turned our backs, supporters and media? Be honest, most press – from newspapers to television and radio – wouldn’t be more interested in coverage of a closed shop than in following it.
So we’re in this together. And we’re not like them in that regard. Those clubs, the Premier League’s Big Six, Europe’s rousing Big 12, went into a global pandemic in which, more than ever, disparate sections of society had to work together as one.
And this is what they came up with? This horror, this antithesis of the life and soul of sports? Unfortunately it was. Unfortunately, this has been their nasty game from the start. A plague on all their homes.