It’s frustrating to read only people who ‘hate’ football could come up with a plan as heinous at the European Super League when it’s much more simple than that.

Jonathan Liew in the Guardian
Jonathan Liew in the Guardian

I respect and enjoy Jonathan Liew as a writer. I love how he covers issues others won’t go near and I value his take on things. I was surprised, however, to see the emotion that led his piece on the formation of a European Super League.

That’s not to criticise emotion in posts, without it I’d have little else, but I guess it wasn’t what I’ve come to expect from him and it was the jump off point for what follows.

The goal of revamping the European Cup into the Champions League was to make it harder for less ‘glamorous’ sides to take up valuable screen time while seeing more of the big teams.

I live in Belfast. Each season my local team won the league, there was a chance of playing a big European superpower in the European Cup. It was so exciting. Another team here, Glentoran, played Marseille at the height of their powers and it brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Irish League club and the working class community it sits at the heart of. Now, if the Glens win the league (ha), they have to play two rounds just to get to qualifying. Then, they have to play another five games to make the group stages.

Finish fourth in England? In you go, sir.

No team from the two leagues in Ireland, north and south, have ever made the group stages in the Champions League. Dundalk making the Group Stages of the Europa League last season was nothing short of a miracle and the following year the Super League was announced to make sure that would never happen again.

How much money has this all kept from those clubs and their communities? How would football have developed here if it had regular injections of cash like that when small amounts make a massive difference at this level? What players could have been developed? How might that have helped Ireland, the Republic of or Northern, on the national front when it came to qualifying for major tournaments? What would that have done for the image of the country, especially in the north, around the world? How many tourist pounds didn’t come? How many new jobs weren’t created?

The chances of Cork City ever drawing 1-1, in Cork, against a side like Bayern Munich as they did in the 91/92 season is basically zero. Athlone Town played AC Milan in 75/76 and drew 0-0, Linfield only went out of the European Cup against Manchester City on away goals in the 70s. Rangers, Valencia, Roma, Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, Spurs, and PSG, are some of the clubs that used to play here in European competition between the 60s and the 80s. Now, it’s teams like Tartan Oresov, HB Torshavn, and Liepaja.

Legends that parents will never tell their children about because they never got to be created. UEFA took the money for itself and it’s favoured few.

Their decisions have been damaging football, towns, cities and countries around Europe for some time.

Now we are supposed to feel sorry for them and indignant at the clubs for their European Super League plans?

The clubs are merely doing what UEFA and FIFA taught them. I mean, it’s quite the threat to not let players from offending clubs compete in the Qatar World Cup.

Won’t somebody think of the children?

Yes, hypocrisy has been rife.

How dare you do to me what I did to them?

Some of the hot takes from journalists I respect have been, well, rather odd. The shelter-shock of declaring ‘only someone who hates football could come up with a European Super League’ makes about as much sense as claiming ‘only someone who hates shopping could come up with Amazon’.

It’s hyperbole to play to the masses’ outrage and fuel the fire while keeping you distracted from the issue at hand. Look over here, focus on the ‘real’ villains, the clubs and those nasty, foreign owners, coming over here, taking our football clubs. Don’t pay attention to the governments that waved every stage of the whole corporate takeover of European football through.

In fact, keep voting for them, they’re doing great.

Pay no heed to the oligarchs behind the curtain, buying players and trophies and World Cups and seats in the House of Lords.

Capitalists don’t have to hate what they destroy. They just want the money from it. The destruction is an irrelevant by-product. When they’ve squeezed the asset dry, they leave its broken pieces on the ground and move on to their next thing.

You’ve seen this happen to countless clubs who’ve had the misfortune to fall from the top table because owners didn’t know enough about football to keep them competitive for too long. You know this is what they do. They loot and plunder, pillaging resources as they go. Then they walk away and whatever fans are left start to pick up the pieces, if they can.

Why do so many act like there was some sort of limit, a line they wouldn’t cross because, well, this is football. It’s sacred, isn’t it? Surely they won’t do it to *our* clubs?

It’s a business to be milked just like everything else on this planet. We have more people than we care to admit who literally value money above the lives and welfare of human beings. They do it in business, education, healthcare, prisons, care for the vulnerable, the homeless, the addicted and afflicted, the veterans and the desperate.

The Amazon rainforest shrinks to keep Jeff Bezos’s Amazon growing.

Why should football be so special?

If you really want to stop this all from happening, you need to change the world we live in.

There’s little else that will stop very rich men in the pursuit of more wealth.