When UEFA is seen to be championing the people, when FIFA becomes a bastion of morality, that’s when you start to realise you’re playing on the wrong team.
When Portsmouth, Peterborough and Plymouth fans stand shoulder-to-shoulder with PSG, you simply must know you’ve got it all wrong.
When fans, pundits, former players, current players, managers and football clubs across the globe stand together in complete solidarity against your plan, you know (surely you really must know?) that you have been given a chance to direct, guide and shape football, and you have blown it spectacularly.
Battle lines have been drawn, unlikely allegiances forged. The Super League is coming and I couldn’t be more in favour. English football needs it. Make it happen.
An arbitrarily-chosen, self-appointed elite ‘dirty dozen‘ – including six Premier League teams – have launched a tactical strike against the football world order, against FIFA and UEFA.
The Super League will provide the biggest footballing shake-up since the beautiful game was conceived, and it’s about to get very ugly, very quickly.
The basic premise: 15 teams (12 confirmed) will form a self-regulated, self-seeking breakaway league, independent of FIFA and UEFA jurisdiction, financed by a reported £4.3billion package by US bank Morgan Stanley.
These founding clubs will remain permanent fixtures in the Super League, without fear of relegation or upstarts rising to join them. It will be a closed shop, designed to rake in billions of every currency in the global TV market, without fear of ‘competition’ getting in the way.
The mutineers will be joined by several ‘qualifier’ teams who will be permitted to dine at the top table on occasions, but not drag up a chair. And once again, I say, I cannot wait.
UEFA has struck back with ferocity. President Aleksandr Ceferin has condemned the project with unprecedented venom, threatening to ban all teams and players involved from featuring in its domestic leagues, such as the Premier League and La Liga.
In addition, players would be barred from representing their countries for international tournaments such as this year’s rescheduled Euro 2020 and next year’s 2022 World Cup.
Of course, this is where the tectonic plates of the football landscape rub against each other as the Super League coalition teams plan to remain part of the domestic leagues in which they currently reside. Something, someone has to give.
And truly, for a third time, I believe it is time to say goodbye. This is the opportunity that everybody, on all sides of the battlefield, has been waiting for. Everybody can win from this, but only with a clean break.
The laughably tagged Premier League big six comprises of Europa League semi-finalists Manchester United, Liverpool clutching their one Premier League trophy in 30 years, Chelsea and Man City, who boast the same number of top division titles as third-tier Sunderland. There’s also Tottenham Hotspur (who have failed to win a league title since 1961) and ninth-placed Arsenal, who relied on a 97th-minute winner to equalise against 19th-placed Fulham at home on Sunday.
They each had the audacity to refer to themselves as a self-professed ‘leading European football club’ in their announcement statements.
We have suffered enough chatter around Project Big Picture – the power grab in exchange for COVID-19 relief cash to save football clubs in the English football pyramid – and various iterations of European Super Leagues. Enough is enough. It is time to leave, and it could be the most welcome moment for modern-day English football.
The ‘big six’ diverged from footballing reality a long time ago. They should be allowed to walk out the door, and we – the fans, the media, the people who love the game – should celebrate their exit, on the condition that all bridges are thoroughly scorched, that no automatic re-entry is possible. Once they are gone, they are gone.
The Premier League would lose some of its quality, some of its long-cultivated sheen, but it would gain a once in a generation shot at regaining control, encouraging genuine competition and maintaining integrity. It would be a chance to reform and restore football back to the people who support it, who love it, who – as match day income-free bank balances can attest to – truly sustain it.
We didn’t fall in love with the game in its current guise. Football is not a courtroom battle. It is not played on spreadsheets. It is not a closed shop. It is not about money, faux-engagement, empty hashtags, sentiment-free slogans, official paint sponsors, multi-club portfolios, empire-building, cheese rooms, and so on. This is not football.
Football is about the walk through town, finding that spot, that perfect spot nestled in the heart of a Venn diagram between ‘close enough to the stadium’ and ‘far enough to beat the traffic’.
Football is about away days, discovering exotic service stations, Tibshelf, Woodall and Wetherby. Discovering that Wimpy still exists. It’s that time you watched a poor bloke’s entire array of hot dog toppings base-jump to the cobbles, and remembering it for 10 years longer than you have a reasonable right to.
Football is about losing. A lot. Because all of those grim days, those defeats, those bleak moments make the occasional flickers of joy all the sweeter when they come.
Football is not knowing anything about the guy who stands next to you other than which team blew his acca in the early kick-off and that distinctive, liberal tang of Old Spice when he grabs you after a last-minute winner.
Football is about that hope, that undying hope that one day, the club you follow will not be be a constant source of despair. That one day, things will get better. That one day, your team will walk up those steps at Wembley, pull off a 5000/1 Premier League title win and sneak a place in Europe, rewarding you with a trip to an Eastern European town you’ve only heard of from bottles of your favourite pilsner.
Football is about the possibility of Grimsby – 92nd of 92 in the English football pyramid – reaching the pinnacle. Unlikely? Incredibly so. Hypothetically possible? Yes. Of course.
Without competition, what is football? It becomes a soap opera, it becomes a box set TV series, a meaningless shadow. A place where the lows aren’t low enough to truly appreciate the highs, and when the heights are hit, well, nobody really cares, because ‘somebody had to win it’.
Football wasn’t close to being perfect before this week. It was covered in blemishes, grey areas, dark patches and defects, but ripping away competitiveness is a step beyond a line many fans will not cross.
Let the competition-bottlers leave and let the grand old blend of proud clubs rule once again.
Let Leicester, West Ham, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Everton, Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, Sunderland and any number of teams have a shot at lifting trophies on a playing field that is significantly more level than it is today.
I don’t want “The Best Clubs. The Best Players. Every Week.” as the slogan reads. I want football to become a competition, a game again, not an enterprise or a cash cow.
Ironically, in the Super League’s quest to kill competition, their absence would lay the foundations for a competitive reformation that could breathe new life into the Premier League, and into football itself.
English football has a second chance to rebalance, reset and rewire itself for a brighter, more competitive future. Let’s take it. Let them leave.
For the full breakdown of what games are coming up check out our Premier League fixtures.