The European Super League seems dead in the water. Chelsea are reportedly looking to pull out, as are Manchester City, with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona set to follow suit. Meanwhile at Manchester United, Ed Woodward has resigned after the ferocious backlash this idea has received from fans. A plan that was put together over several years by the richest clubs in the world has been decimated in just two days by the football community. The clubs simply didn’t expect this level of backlash from fans, while the media, pundits and broadcasters all united to condemn this scheme for exactly what it is - an attack on the very principles of our game.
It is no coincidence that the initial announcement was made late at night, in the midst of a pandemic that has prevented fans from attending games. The owners wanted to do this with as little fuss as possible, yes there would be slight unrest, but fans would ‘get over it’.
The kingpin of this whole organisation, and a man who has proved himself to be one of the worst people in football, Florentino Perez even commented:
"Whenever there is a change, there are always people who oppose it. We are doing this to save football at this critical moment,"
"Young people are no longer interested in football. Why not? Because there are a lot of poor quality games and they are not interested, they have other platforms on which to distract themselves."
He is so far removed from what fans want, it comes as no surprise this was his brainchild. But amidst the greed and the arrogance, we saw unity. In a year where more people have struggled in this country than ever before, in a year where jobs have been lost and football has been one of the only things to put a smile on people’s faces. No matter who you support, the whole country, in fact, the whole continent was against this.
Fans still have a voice. Fans still matter. The Chelsea protests outside Stamford Bridge meant something. Their message came loud and clear. Jordan Henderson organised a meeting between the Premier League captains and messages from players and managers came out condemning this idea. Posts on social media from all corners of the world proved that this is still our game. Owners are simply custodians of our clubs, they do not get to rip apart communities and remove competitiveness from our sport.
Somehow, out of these murky waters, we can feel prouder than ever before of our fellow fans. We have our rivalries, but removing them entirely to form a ‘closed shop’ of Europe’s elite was a step too far. But what comes next? Ed Woodward’s resignation at Manchester United is a clear sign that times have changed, and they must continue to do so.
The Government seems to be getting behind the German plan of 50+1 majority fan ownership, but in truth, how on earth can these owners remain in charge of these clubs after this blatant betrayal? After these clubs turned their back on their own fans, surely they cannot remain in charge.
Graeme Souness on Sky spoke of ‘the tip of the iceberg’ ahead of Chelsea v Brighton, and he could well be right. The Glazers cannot stay, FSG cannot stay, even Roman Abramovic, cannot stay. The fans cannot let up the pressure on these owners just because they have done a last minute U-turn.
These owners are downright liars. They wanted to ruin football. Fans can never ever forget that and the community have proved this week they have the power to make a difference. In taking the biggest risk the English game has ever seen, these owners have lost the respect of the fans, and in turn, could well have lost control of their clubs.
Football is nothing without fans.