OLIVER HOLT: The Premier League sent their attack dogs but failed in their pathetic propaganda

If you’ve never seen Tracey Crouch and Mao Tse-Tung as ideological bedfellows before, the Premier League invites you to think again.

The impression given to the eager Premier League hit squad was that, although Crouch would look and act like a highly competent, widely respected, unusually principled Member of Parliament and former Sports Minister, who had just put forth a series of compelling proposals that emerged from a fan-led review in English football, she was in fact a secret agent of the Comintern, the spawn of Satan and an existential threat to life on Earth.

Christian Purslow, the CEO of Aston Villa, wagged his finger and said we should watch out for plans for an independent regulator, a gold share for fans and a transfer tax. Baroness Brady, the CEO of West Ham United, said of the proposals: “Last I looked we didn’t live in Russia, China or North Korea.”

The Premier League sent their attack dogs to fight the regulation (Photo: Aston Villa chief Christian Purslow)

And it was Angus Kinnear, the chief executive of Leeds United, who won first prize for Stupid by comparing the planned reforms to Mao’s agrarian policies, which claimed tens of millions of victims. A half-baked TED Talk about the Chinese history of an over-enthusiastic marketing man whose expertise lies in thrashing Coke cans seemed like a curious way for the Premier League to make their case.

All these interventions yielded was a hardening of the position against the Premier League. Put all this clumsy, laughable, pathetic propaganda together and we’re looking at a textbook example of what the writer Martin Amis once called “species anxiety.”

They are afraid because regulation and a transfer tax promise a fairer share of broadcast revenues between the Premier League and the Football League. They fear that regulation would stop clubs from betraying their fans by, for example, joining a European Super League or moving to a new stadium without fans’ consent or changing the club’s crest. They are afraid because there is stricter testing on property. They are afraid because for the first time there will be limits to their greed.

West Ham chief Karren Brady (above) compared regulations to living in North Korea or Russia

West Ham chief Karren Brady (above) compared regulations to living in North Korea or Russia

Kinnear won first prize for Stupid with his analysis

Mao Tse-Tung was a Chinese dictator

Leeds chief Angus Kinnear (left) compared plans to Mao Tse-Tung’s policies (right)

Those fears came to light again during Friday’s emergency Premier League meeting, when the clubs pledged to oppose the proposed reforms. Crouch’s proposals were apparently described as ’emotional’, meaning condescending and subversive. But I’m glad there’s emotion in the proposals. The attempt to save English football from club owners who only care about enriching themselves is worth getting emotional about.

Forget the idea, propagated by Purslow et al., that no sports league in the world gives away more than the Premier League. That’s sophism. It ignores the fact that highly successful American leagues like the NFL are based on a level of revenue-sharing and talent-sharing, through the concept system, that would mark them out to the likes of Brady and Kinnear as de facto disciples of Kim Jong- un. Heaven forbid we ever mention the idea of ​​a salary cap against them.

The Premier League is trying to maintain that they are better qualified to run the top flight than a regulatory council and if they hadn’t spent the last two years concentrating power in the hands of the Big Six then kill the rest of English football by joining the European Super League, dragging their heels when the lower leagues begged for help during the pandemic, and if they hadn’t bathed their hands in Saudi blood money I might have been more sympathetic to their argument . As they are, I don’t have any.

Premier League strongly opposes Tracey Crouch's reform proposals

Premier League strongly opposes Tracey Crouch’s reform proposals

By the way, there will be no apology for the emotional language here. I watched BBC sports editor Dan Roan’s excellent interview with Premier League chief executive Richard Masters last week and heard him ask Masters if he was happy that one of his clubs – Newcastle United – is owned by a fund chaired by a crown prince who, according to Western intelligence, ordered the murder of a journalist. “I need to feel comfortable with it eventually,” Masters said. Which was fun.

We can add that to the things we should not forget. Remember, the owners of our leading clubs once tried to destroy English football with Project Big Picture. Then they tried again by joining the European Super League. They begged for forgiveness the first time and said it would never happen again. Then they begged for forgiveness a second time and said it would never happen again. And now they seem surprised at the idea that no one trusts them and no one believes them anymore.

Without regulation, sooner or later greed will force the owners of Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea to make another attempt to take all the money for themselves and give up the rest of the English game. Without regulation, they will fall back on the model most trusted by US owners in particular, namely closed retail competition without relegation. They can’t do that with regulations. Greed is built into these club owners. They need to be saved from themselves.

Richard Masters' insistence that he is

Richard Masters’ insistence that he is “comfortable” with Newcastle’s ownership is something else we should not forget about those in charge of the Premier League

They might even be right to warn that no one knows exactly what the makeup of a regulatory council would look like. But what they don’t understand is that most people think it can’t get any worse than the status quo. What we have at the moment is a system that has twice brought English football to the brink of disaster. Is it really any wonder that some checks and balances seem like a good thing?

Purslow is a skilled administrator and communicator, but when he spoke about how to be careful not to kill the ‘golden goose’, he may have been talking about exactly what the Premier League has put at stake for English football.

They have built up a fantastic competition. It is hugely financially successful. It makes for fantastic entertainment. It features many of the best players in the world. And yet that’s not enough for United, Liverpool and some of the rest. It’s never enough.

Daniel Levy (L) and John Henry (R) were not wheeled out to defend the top flight as they are the enemies of English football

Daniel Levy (L) and John Henry (R) were not wheeled out to defend the top flight as they are the enemies of English football

Perhaps that’s why when the Premier League sent out the attack dogs last week, there was no sign of Ed Woodward, John W Henry, Daniel Levy, Josh Kroenke or any of the other architects of the plans to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of some clubs.

These people are the enemies of English football, not Tracey Crouch. Crouch and the proposals emerging from her review represent the way forward for our game and the attacks on her have so far only served to expose the emptiness of Premier League thinking. In the midst of all their riches, they are bankrupt.

Let’s leave them to Mao Tse-Tung and North Korea and let others continue with the task of protecting the Premier League and the rest of the pyramid from the predators within. Now is the time to adopt Crouch’s most important proposals before it is too late.


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There can be no sympathy for David de Gea after the goalkeeper's howl at Arsenal

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