MARTIN SAMUEL: You won. We won … but the battle doesn’t end here


You won. We won. All of us. Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, every manager who spoke up, every player who took a stand. The fans outside Stamford Bridge. The Chelsea Pitch Owners. Those who took their banners from The Kop. Those who turned down extraordinarily rare tickets to Sunday’s cup final. Even the helpful populist prime minister and his government. We won. The victory is ours.

They signed a 23-year contract and it lasted 48 hours. Dead in the water. No way back. Yet the battle does not end here. Now that they’ve revealed their endgame so naked, it must be ensured that this can never happen again. Legally binding statutes for each club, each starting with a simple message: they only play in football associations and UEFA-approved leagues, and nothing outside of them. Make it waterproof, make it binding. Make sure that these threats can never be voiced again.

Read Tottenham’s statement, released late Tuesday night, as the last four of the turncoats collapsed. “We believe that we should never stand still and that the sport should constantly review leagues and governance to ensure that the game we all love continues to evolve and excite fans around the world.”

Fans won after protests and pressure forced the Big Six to walk away from the ESL

Chelsea supporters protested on Tuesday evening before news of the club's withdrawal became known

Chelsea supporters protested on Tuesday evening before news of the club’s withdrawal became known

In other words, we reserve the right to go again. We reserve the right to attack the meritocracy, the pyramid, the essence of competition, if we smell money. So shut it down. Stamp it out. Change legislation so that English football can never be held for ransom afterwards.

As soon as one fell, the pack collapsed, we knew that would happen. A keen observer of this debacle from the highest echelons of football said he could predict the order of the fall. Manchester City first, Chelsea second, Tottenham third, then the three clubs owned by American venture capitalists in unison. He was one of them. Tottenham waited and withdrew with the red clubs. What choice did they have? How can Tottenham, the last title in 1961, be the only English members of a Super League?

City and Chelsea have always been key. They were the odd one out. Their owners didn’t have the same motivations as the Glazers, Kroenkes and Fenway Sports Group. Roman Abramovich was always different. And that also made Chelsea different. He did it for a little more than money. He was in it for the glory and the status.

And of course for soft political power and influence. We are not fools. But no one burns through so many managers and regimes and strategies and players without actually enjoying the moment when a trophy is lifted into the air and the cannons of glittering confetti blast. So early yesterday he knew he had made a mistake. A very big, very expensive mistake.

The same goes for Sheikh Mansour in Manchester City. He doesn’t have to maximize revenues at the expense of reputation. That’s why he didn’t buy a football club. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority has assets in the region of £ 594 billion. Manchester City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak has never led his club with the same principles and motives that guide the now departed Manchester United CEO.

Roman Abramovich never intended to make money from football when he bought Chelsea

Roman Abramovich never intended to make money from football when he bought Chelsea

There is an old joke about how to make a small fortune from football. You start with a big fortune. Besides Abramovich and His Royal Highness having such a great fortune, football doesn’t make a dent. As their name suggests, the Fenway Sports Group makes money from sports; The owners of Manchester City and Chelsea put their money into it. They would be considerably richer if they had not bought football clubs. This does not apply to the Glazers.

So here’s another joke. It is a sketch of Two Ronnies. Two tramps rest on the side of the road. “If I had as much money as Rockefeller,” someone said, “I would have more money than Rockefeller.” The other bum thought about this for a moment. “How is that then?” he asked. “I’d do a little window cleaning on the side.”

And that’s what Chelsea and Manchester City are to Abramovich and Mansour. They are the window cleaners on the side. Sports washing, soft power, ego, put whatever you want with the owners of these clubs, but they are not involved in English football for the same reasons as the venture capitalists on the other side of the Atlantic.

This was always the end game for Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United: the red clubs. Left to their own devices, the Blue Corner would never have come up with such a crude idea as The Super League. They didn’t need it. All the Super League brings is income, and they have it.

Once the public reaction in this country stripped the competition of all its prestige and glory, once devalued the brand, made pariahs of the owners, infected all commercial partners, alienated the supporters, it became worthless to them, actively damaging in many ways. .

The Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi is similar, and not to generate income

The Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi is similar, and not to generate income

Manchester City wants to be loved. Seriously, they do. They had to choose between UEFA and Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain on the one hand and the elites of England, Spain and Italy on the other. Convinced that all sides hated them and were afraid of being left behind again, they went with the promise of more money. It was a mistake.

They know that now because it didn’t take into account the one group of people who didn’t hate them. Their fans. And because City had angered their only friends on Earth, she knew this was a giant mistake.

Chelsea too. This was not a decision prompted by a protest that started outside Stamford Bridge late yesterday afternoon. Canceling this contract costs millions. It’s not the kind of call taken by a club president who nervously peers out of a window wondering how he’ll get his Mercedes out of the parking lot.

The decision was made by Abramovich before the demonstration began. But the fans’ voices mattered. The mighty roar that has been heard since Sunday, when the news of The Super League first got out, was a crucial factor. Yesterday was match day and Chelsea have been working on their social media sites all week for the game against Brighton. The messages below these harmless entries have told a story of extreme slander.

No one at Chelsea doubts that this association with a movement synonymous with sheer impudence – ‘extreme greed, an insatiable desire for wealth at any cost’ – has created a completely toxic environment. The club even feared that its work at the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism would be harmed. City no doubt believed the same of the good deeds being done to regenerate areas of east Manchester.

(LR) Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis, Man United co-owners Avi Glazer and Joel Glazer and Liverpool owner John W Henry met for dinner in New York in October 2017.

(LR) Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis, Man United co-owners Avi Glazer and Joel Glazer and Liverpool owner John W Henry met for dinner in New York in October 2017.

The boycotts worked up there. Memberships were returned, and even the small allocation to Sunday’s Carabao Cup final remained largely unsold. City doesn’t have the same global fan base as their fellow travelers. They need home support, they need a good reputation to build on. It is called glocalization. Go global, but stay local.

Despite all the ambitions and vision of the City Football Group – which is now widely emulated by rivals – City was not set up to live off subscriptions across all continents. They need that homely image, they need to be the deputies for Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Everything was wrong for them about this escape. City acknowledged it too late. They were the first to formally notify their former allies of their change of heart.

Ed Woodward’s resignation last night came as a shock. He is the first senior figure at one of the clubs to apparently leave on principle. Managers like Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola spoke well in the opposition. Some players like Jordan Henderson and Bruno Fernandes have that too. Leeds said it with t-shirts.

Ed Woodward's resignation as CEO of Manchester United was a shock

Ed Woodward’s resignation as CEO of Manchester United was a shock

Still, Woodward was believed to have joined the Glazer family to Americanize the English game. His belated change of heart reveals whether a man is confused, or a general who fell on his sword after the coup failed. It’s easier for the Glazers to stay far away from the rage on their Tampa estate. Woodward lives here. He has had intimidating visitors in his home. Maybe he eventually decided it wasn’t worth the annoyance. Not for a vision that wasn’t even his.

Fortunately, this resistance was not based on shady threats to a family home. There was anger, but this was fan protest at its purest. Well done. The news that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy had complained that the past 48 hours had been ‘a public relations disaster’ was the first sign that things were not going well in the houses of sheer greed.

The party line consisted of club owners who were willing to weather the storm, expected it, and almost shrugged. That was not true. They didn’t last the day. And all this was achieved by fans. Hitting the airwaves, the social media forums, calling, demonstrating, taking direct action. A tidal wave of views that couldn’t be ignored even about the oceans. Now we have to float these plans out to sea.