The emerging story of a proposed European Super League, featuring some of the richest football clubs across Europe, has been a huge international story that has dominated both front and back pages. However, for us here in Tameside, it’s also a really important local story as two of the clubs involved are Manchester City and Manchester United.
The exact details of the league and the possible consequences for the breakaway clubs – and the game more broadly – are still somewhat unclear. What is clear, though, is that this move has not gone down well. And it’s very understandable why. These proposals aren’t about football as a sport, they’re about football as a business. To put it bluntly, it’s about greed.
These teams aren’t necessarily the best clubs in the world – Arsenal are barely in the top half of the Premier League at time of writing – they are getting together because of money. They have large international fanbases and some of the most famous players in the world, so they bring in huge amounts in merchandising and TV rights. They were purchased by their owners as lucrative business opportunities, not as football clubs with histories stretching back generations and deep roots in their communities.
Put plainly, from a purely business perspective, their owners can make a lot more from a big game with Barcelona or AC Milan than they can with a mid-week FA cup tie with Burnley or Accrington Stanley. They can sell more tickets and make millions in TV rights. But that’s not what football is about. The joy of football comes partly from the drama and unpredictability of the game. A league where certain teams can never get relegated loses this completely and is instead quite nakedly an attempt to squeeze as much money as possible out of the game.
Depending on how the FA, the Premier League, UEFA and others react, this could have huge implications for the game at all levels in England. And it matters for our community right here in Tameside – these are our clubs and these proposals run the risk of pulling apart the sport right down to the grassroots level.
As a Man City fan, I am disappointed that they have gone down this road and hope that the owners – and those of the other clubs – reconsider this. Football is about so much more than just the money that can be made, it’s about the love of the game and the special link between the clubs and the communities that founded and nurtured them. The clubs involved in the Super League would do well to remember this.