Super League collapse must be the beginning of change


HOW could you not have a smile on your face after what transpired? A handful of billionaires on the backfoot from football's biggest force – the fans – was a sight to behold as their well-crafted plans for a European Super League (ESL) blew up in their faces in the space of 48 hours.

A number of clubs putting out a press release late into Sunday night week last announced that 12 of Europe's biggest clubs were carrying out on a threat they had banging on about for over two decades and forming their own league.

If it was designed to embarrass UEFA ahead of their own reformed Champions League plans (which could be also be scrapped if the reaction to it is anything to go by), the clubs themselves were left humiliated following an overwhelmingly negative response.

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher's takedown of the ESL on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football was stunning television. As a Liverpool fan, their game against Leeds than night was very much secondary. Something much bigger was at stake.

The idea that these clubs believed they could break away and create a league fuelled simply by greed and without any semblance of integrity or competition was outrageous.

As soon as UEFA, FIFA and domestic football announced that clubs and players could be expelled, the first serious blow was struck, and the pressure was relentless from then on in.

Supporters’ groups of the 'Big Six' in England took down banners from their stadiums, protested outside their club grounds and called their local MPs. When Chelsea and Manchester City buckled, it was the beginning of the end and the rest fell like dominoes.

So does that mean it is all over and done with? No. UEFA, FIFA, BT, Sky and the FA have all been complicit in the hyper-commercialisation of the game, taking it from terrestrial television to behind a paywall. Even us fans, who for so long turned a blind eye as long as the club we supported were winning, had a role to play in all of this.

Now we can be the biggest drive for change going forward. They now know that we have the real power. It will be the first battle of many to come, and the first one is to hit them where they will have to pay attention: their pockets.

*You can read Stuart's full column every Tuesday in our print edition.

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