Never before has the football world banded together so quickly as they did last week and it was all for one reason, to stop the Super League.
On Sunday the 18th of April, the news broke that 12 of Europe’s top clubs had joined one another to create a new midweek tournament in which the best teams in Europe would face each other more often than they would in the Champions League. On the surface it seems like a very good idea, but then when you begin to look a little closer it all starts to unravel.
The structure of this competition would involve 20 teams playing one another in a midweek league which would act as almost a step up from the Champions League. Out of the 20 teams, 15 would be permanent members meaning that even if they had had a bad season, they would still be a part of this competition. 5 other places would be available for other teams around Europe although it was never made clear as to how they would earn these positions.
The competition is the brainchild of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez who claims the competition is needed as “young people are no longer interested in football” and he believes a competition where the best plays the best constantly will pique their interest again.
When the competition was announced, the 12 teams that had signed up for the competition were Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal with PSG, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund expected to sign up in the coming days.
UEFA, FIFA and various other governing bodies were furious at the announcement and stated that any team that joined this league would be removed and banned from all other competitions due to the fact they didn’t sanction it and also that it could be harmful to the sport as a whole
The best way to explain the dangerous nature of competition is with former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera who said “I fell in love with popular football, with the football of the fans, with the dream of seeing the team of my heart compete against the greatest. If this European Super League advances, those dreams are over, the illusions of the fans of the teams that are not giants of being able to win on the field competing in the best competitions will end.”
What this league would do is remove “big club” from domestic tournaments such as the Premier League which would mean that although other teams would find it easier to win, they wouldn’t technically have played the best clubs from their country. It also would affect clubs lower down the footballing pyramid as for many of these teams, they dream of climbing up the leagues so one day they can compete against Manchester United and Liverpool, but of course if they left, they would never get to play these historic teams.
As Sunday ended, most of the football world was in chaos as no one truly understood what was going to happen next, but when Monday morning arose, the fans made themselves perfectly clear. Protests were held across the UK from fans of clubs involved in the tournament and fans from clubs who were not. All of them were saying the same thing, the owners of these clubs only cared about money and not the sport itself.
Twitter, Reddit, and radio shows were filled with fans talking about the anger and the pain they felt hearing that these owners would do something like this and that some fans even went as a far as changing teams due to the love they once had being ripped away. Hundreds of Chelsea fans even blocked the cubs own coach from entering its stadium in protest of the competition.
These testimonies were heard by the clubs and by 11pm on Tuesday, all English clubs had withdrawn from the Super League.
After this it was clear that the new competition was over with Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli even saying it was “impossible to continue with just six teams”.
What this three-day saga clearly conveys to not only the world but also to football owners is that football is for the fans. Even though joining this competition would have made the clubs a lot of money in the long run, it still wasn’t good for the sport. People watch football for its exciting competitiveness and the fact that no matter the two teams playing one another, anyone can win.
Fans are the life blood of football and if you turn on them, football will die.