Doing nothing is not an option, the response to the Super League

If football sweeps the Super League and its plotters under the carpet, it will weaken and the six and their plans will return. The choice is stark. Doing nothing is not an option.

Paul The Esk 29/04/2021 11comments  |  Jump to last

Harold Wilson famously said “a week is a long time in politics” whilst Chamberlain said “there is no use looking beyond the next fortnight”.

A week ago, you could be forgiven for assuming that the untrustworthy six would be facing a very long and difficult week not only in the court of public opinion but in the Premier League corridors of power. Disturbingly, that has not proved to be the case. It is disturbing because the failure to act, the failure to bring these miscreants to account, has a significant impact on the future of the game.

A failure to act further emboldens those just with self-interest at heart. A failure to act brings into doubt the integrity of the Premier League, its strength of management, and indeed brings you to question the motive and purpose of the other fourteen member clubs.

In Everton’s excellent statement on the Monday morning prior to the hastily arranged Premier League meeting, the statement concluded as such “to remember the privileged position they hold – not only as custodians of their clubs but also custodians of the game. The responsibility they carry should be taken seriously. We urge them all to consider what they wish their legacy to be.”

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Whilst that was quite correctly directed at the owners and directors of the six, those same words apply to the fourteen plus the Premier League board and management. Failure to respond appropriately and swiftly brings into question their legacy, their custodian role.

Let’s make no pretence; the six sought to destroy completely any sporting integrity left in professional football. The plan (such as it was) sought to separate once and for all, the six from the rest by providing such a commercial and income advantage that could never be bridged. It sought to cut off the threat (as the six saw it) of the likes of Leicester City, Everton and West Ham United (based on this season’s results) breaking up this self-absorbed cartel.

Had the Super League gone ahead, it is impossible to understate the incalculable damage it would have done to the domestic game. In nature, the apex predator maintains the food chain below it, maintaining a balance built over millions of years. The removal of the apex predator destroys everything below it. So it is (albeit over a somewhat shorter time period) in professional football. Despite the absurd imbalance of resources and the desperate need for great reform, the pyramid structure survives. The Super League would have destroyed the Premier League as the apex operator.

Because of the enormous financial advantages the six would have awarded themselves, the Premier League would cease to be a competitive environment. Because the six were guaranteed participation in the Super League, how much value would there be in others trying to qualify for significantly damaged UEFA competitions? How much value would there be in other club owners continuing to provide investment in stadiums, in new players, in management, in academies to produce tomorrow’s crop of new players? For what purpose? To win the 7th place trophy?

It just wouldn’t happen. Other club owners would reduce their investment plans because there would be nothing worthwhile striving for. Broadcasters would take the same view; rights values would fall. Sponsors and commercial partners would see the Premier League losing its apex position with a corresponding drop in interest and thus value. The Super League would have a devastating impact on the Premier League and then in turn the whole pyramid below it.

Outside of the Premier League, clubs have barely survived the impact of the pandemic. They are effectively on life support, functioning and still producing a great product on the pitch, but unable to survive without external resources to assist them. This would be wiped out in a world that accommodated the Super League.

This is what the six were plotting. They had, indeed have, no interest in the long term survival (let alone advancement) of the wider professional game, of the pyramid that extends all the way to grassroots football.

That is the ultimate act of bad faith. What they were planning would lead to the destruction of professional football in England and many other leagues across Europe. Those six owners would know that; their advisors would know that; and so would their bankers. Not one had the courage to recognise the damage their actions would have created; not one called a stop to this madness driven purely by personal greed.

This is why punishment is required. This is why Klopp is entirely wrong in saying it is time to move on. This is why Ceferin is wrong to call the English clubs that pulled out “great” – “you have to have some greatness to say I was wrong” he is quoted as saying. What utter nonsense. He should be saying you nearly destroyed our game by your deliberate actions and you will be punished for it.

Punishment is required but so is accountability. Make each club explain their actions. Usually any of the six will jump at the chance of publicity. Make them do what Tiger Woods did on his road to redemption. Face the press, face the world, face your own fans and explain why you did what you planned, why you did it in the full knowledge you were destroying our game.

Then, having received your punishment (I still believe relegation is appropriate), having your moment in which you must justify your actions, you have to commit to a new world – a world where football is properly governed at every level. A world where it would not be possible to behave in this way. One of true accountability. One where fans were not only listened to but actually held some control in terms of veto (as I have written previously).

Then, if you (as the owner of one of these six) don’t like the new environment, sell your club. No-one is forcing you to stay in football. Sell it to someone who perhaps understands the values of football and understands its importance culturally and societally, particularly in the UK.

In my opinion, this is the message that should be going out from every Premier League club and the League itself. Day and night until people understand what the impact would have been. Tell the sporting world of what they proposed to do, the damage they would have brought, the punishment they must accept, and the governance changes that make football better in the future.

If football doesn’t do this, it if sweeps the Super League and its plotters under the carpet, football will weaken and the six and their plans will return. If they do, football fans all over will not forgive you – those with the power to make changes (as well as the six) for allowing it to happen. The choice is stark. Doing nothing is not an option.

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Reader Comments (11)

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Jerome Shields
1 Posted 29/04/2021 at 07:39:55
Paul I totally agree with everything you say. This would be the right and appropriate action.

But this will never be the case. The reason why the breakaway six did try to form a European Super League was they thought they could due the feedback and attitudes of those who they dealt with in the Premiership, Champions League and Ueafa. What they misjudged in England was the fan reaction and the prospect of political retaliation.

So the cracks will be papered over. You might get some token changes in the Chairman and Vice Chairman role in the Premiership. ln the Champions League the changes proposed by Man U will be the template and what can be pushed through in relation to that. This will be to the financial detriment of challenging Clubs in the Premiership. Ueafa will move in behind the money. A European Super League by the back door.

The only real fall out will be for the breakaway European Super League Clubs who needed the breakaway league to sustain their financial sustainability.

Actually as a Evertonian I am surprised you did not smell a rat, when the Daily Mail identified Bill as the poster boy for the good of the Premiership with a two page spread. As for Moshiri he might have regained his confidence enough to chance the next Everton AGM.

As for the Fans and Politicians the whole lot will join forces to counter any attempted changes.

Barry Rathbone
2 Posted 29/04/2021 at 07:52:29
Operation "carpet sweep" going on as we speak.

There will be a token gesture penalty but the status quo is a money spinner for the authorities and all that irked them was a threat to their dough which has now evaporated. We are in "nothing to see here" territory right now, forward thinking among the footballing mafia doesn't exist

Rob Halligan
3 Posted 29/04/2021 at 08:14:08
Relegation will never happen. Twenty points deduction this season, thirty points deduction from the start of next season, five years European ban and £100M fine should be sufficient for these septic six clubs.

Though maybe double all that for Spurs for having the audacity to think they were entitled to be classed as one of Europeans power horses!!

Brent Stephens
4 Posted 29/04/2021 at 08:39:41
Paul “...punishment (I still believe relegation is appropriate)”.

Paul, I still wonder and worry about the timing and implications of relegation. If you relegate them, you presumably have an appeals process. Appeals would presumably be internal; and then externally through the courts at (possibly) various levels.

By the time that is all complete, we’re into next season, I guess. If at that point the greedy six finally win their appeal, how do you unpick the actions you’ve taken? The three extra clubs promoted from the Championship would have to have their results voided and be “de-promoted”? With allocations of money for promoted clubs now reversed? With implications for contracts signed by players who had recently signed on for those clubs? Premier League clubs who’d played them would have to have their results voided? Arrangements would need to be made for the greedy six to now play catch-up games with the season well under way? Financial claims for any related loss of revenues?

I don’t know I’m just guessing but immediate relegation seems a can of worms.

Tony Everan
5 Posted 29/04/2021 at 12:31:35
The silence is deafening, there is a virtual media blackout on the biggest issue that has faced sport in this country ever.

The “Now it’s time to move on “ message is a raging insult to the other fourteen clubs.

This will be a can kicked down the road, and then into the long grass, if we’re not careful. There it will stay until the greedy clubs bring it back, amended, like some foul , unwanted planning application.

Next time the PR will be on point by masters of the craft. They will try to get what the want by world class crafted deception.

Unless the government and footballing powers act unequivocally to maintain the integrity of the UK football pyramid and outlaw legally any cartel-like anticompetitive practices.

I hope for the best but fear for the worst as there will be intense lobbying of all positions of power by these greedy clubs. Their tentacles will be everywhere.

I fear there will be a sordid and unacceptable compromise that will do the same damage. And furthermore this compromise will be a creeping disease and won’t rest until it has taken over the body.

The future of competitive football as we know it is still at huge risk. It will take unrelenting resolve by the government to protect it. Nothing less than legislative protection will suffice.

Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 29/04/2021 at 13:08:34
Lots of different threads on this so will try not to get too repetitive.

Fines that they can absorb and a big does of "nothing to see here" as they set about targeting reformation of the Champions League to push their agenda through having pretty much gotten off the hook.

The FA & UEFA are seen to have wielded their seeming power, the 12 still get to push through an agenda of some kind.

Brian Murray
7 Posted 29/04/2021 at 13:17:46
Still waiting for it to announced that the shiesters next derby is v tranmere !! Domote em big time
Mike Doyle
8 Posted 29/04/2021 at 13:40:11
I’ve thought from the outset that
1] UEFA/FIFA will do absolutely nothing.
2] the EPL will wait until the end of the season before imposing modest points deductions & modest fines. This will leave 2-3 of the 6 in the Champions League next season. The others may miss out on the Europa League and the 3rd competition being introduced - but I suspect they will regard this as a blessing in disguise as these competitions are of little interest to them.
3] No chance of relegation as this risks impacting the value of the TV rights deals on which all 20 clubs depend.

I’d hope that Rob H’s suggestion of all 6 starting next season with a points deduction would happen - but I can’t see it (sadly)

Ian Burns
9 Posted 29/04/2021 at 14:15:33
As many people have said - including myself - on other threads, any drastic action will not be taken and in truth will be detrimental to the PL, including the 14 who had their say immediately after the ESL announcement.

The PL is only a national competition here in England - to the rest of the world paying for their media subscriptions, the PL is a truly international product and they want to see the so-called big 6 as much as possible.

No big 6 in the PL - could mean Ancelotti saying that's your lottie. It could mean Moshiri taking a second look at his investment, as I have said on other threads be careful what we wish for.

That is NOT to say punishment, including relegation, is not justified - I am simply saying for good reason, it won't happen.

David Ellis
10 Posted 30/04/2021 at 05:14:29
What is required is legislation. Fortunately the English Clubs are a big enough part of this that the UK Govt has the power on its own to fix it. I would like legislation to declare certain businesses as "Community Businesses" which would restrict the power of their owners to do what they like (and this would include football clubs and perhaps some other institutions whilst we're at it).

Secondly - to make the PL more competitive the legislation needs to mandate how the UEFA competitions money is shared within the English/Welsh football pryamid - i.e. take more of the money off the CL clubs. This long term will hopefully break the whole concept of a Big 6 and their power will dilute. These clubs are only commercially successful because they win a lot and they win a lot because they have the money to do it. Reduce the money and the cycle will unwind.

It needs a structural fix - not a one off fine or even a one off relegation. And it needs legislation to do it.

Steve Carter
11 Posted 02/05/2021 at 00:36:32
Paul, thank you for your article. I am always amazed by your knowledge and analysis. I have a question : if the removal of the apex predator destroys everything below it, and assuming that is the case not only in England, how going forward as time goes by do these super league teams restock their teams with players of equal ability to those that they had when the ‘thing’ first started? In Australian Rules, for example, AFL teams are made up of players who are picked up as 17-18 year olds from “draft camps” under a somewhat complicated arrangement “draft picking” arrangement and older players are traded between clubs in an annual “draft”. Each team has a “feeder club” in the state league in which players who aren’t picked in the AFL side that week play. It is rare for a “mature age” player to be “drafted” from a state league team. The Americans have their college football and basketball systems, which are well funded, enormously popular, and of high quality from which the NFL and NBA teams draft players, and the step up isn’t that great, or at least I assume it isn’t. If, as you say, and with which I don’t take issue, the arse drops out of the EPL and domestic leagues in Europe, how are the dirty 6 et al going to manage the articulation of talent to the required level - very different situation to AFL and US?

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