Published on November 6th, 2018 | by Bill
Euro Super League and a pyramid at risk. Big 6 need to signal their solidarity with the English football family.
Release my Soul, I’ve lost control.
“No club is better than any other. In a true sport, no club should dominate for too long. Solidarity with every team in the pyramid and the English football family”.
The sort of statement that the organised fan groups of Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur should be penning, presented to their clubs to co-sign.
Owners of any of the majority of outfits on the league and non-league ladder, striving to achieve, or even survive would agree to such a statement of solidarity in an instant. What’s not to like? Yet, I can hear the rustling of raised eyebrows regarding our power 6 clubs even entertaining it.
Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck has railed against making ‘marquee’ clubs like the Blues join the “great unwashed”. Yet the filthy masses are now so far from the sink there’s a stink rising.
6: The number of clubs that have been allowed to move into a position of dominance in English football. 110: The number of other Premier League, EFL and National League clubs that make up the top tiers of our proud football pyramid. Below that, countless more levels and thousands more clubs from each corner of the country and every community, making football the true national game.
The Premier League is so called because it is the pinnacle of a comprehensive league structure. Without that it is just ‘The League’. Yet still, according to Der Spiegel’s Football Leaks revelations the richest and most powerful, who have been moulded into an already privileged elite, are alleged to want more. Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United were named as ‘founders’ of a secret proposed European Super League of 11 powerful clubs according to Football Leaks papers.
Whether a mooted European Super League would simply replace the Champions League or result in elite teams leaving their respective leagues is unclear. However, the case remains the same for English football, the Big 6 should publicly pledge their continuing solidarity with the rest of the pyramid or arrange for a quick, dirty goodbye.
Indeed, it is difficult to know what is worse, the prospect of the uber-dominant Big 5 (minus Spurs) leaving from a standalone European Super League or remaining via a Champions League replacement with even more cash and continuing to lord it over everyone. A constant stinging fear of their withdrawal? Sometimes it’s better to rip off the plaster.
As the excellent Martin Calladine of online blog the Ugly Game commented on Twitter “The current situation is already unsustainable, whether they stay or go, change is essential”. Calladine is an expert on American sports and has been pleading with football to adopt some of the competition balance regulations from the NFL instead of just hosting its matches, to no avail.
The result is overfed bullies and their European cousins who have rarely been told no.
Note that Spurs weren’t named as a breakaway club yet Tottenham are very much ensconced in the elite pack and their new 60k stadium will take them to an even higher level in the years to come.
A pledge of solidarity with the rest of the English football pyramid would have to mean an end to such greedy moves as battling to change the equal sharing of TV revenue as was seen with the overseas rights last June. So too, ensuring that more money is shared properly down the pyramid all the way to the grassroots.
Make no mistake, the future of the English football pyramid is already in danger if you listen to Accrington Stanley Chairman Andy Holt’s concerns as to the distribution of wealth. Holt is desperate to get his club as high up the leagues as quickly as possible due to the growing gulf between the higher end haves and the lower level have nots with Brexit looming. But yet, solidarity payments mean that crucial money does filter down as things stand and if the Big 6 were to break off, some clubs reliant on that would face an uncertain future.
Of course, that is not to say there are no sufficient teams in England to fill the void and drive a product that is more functional for everyone. What the clubs named in the Football Leaks papers don’t seem to realise is that they are no better than Newcastle or Leeds United or Nottingham Forest. Neither are those clubs any more worthy than any other. The value of a club is in the heart of its fans not on the balance sheet.
A signal of dedication to the health of the English football pyramid from the Big 6 would put some minds at rest but will be a massive challenge for clubs that have seemingly grown too wildly to contain.
“No club is better than any other. In a true sport, no club should dominate for too long. Solidarity with every other team in the pyramid and the English football family”.
If the Big 6 can’t stomach such a notion then like Adonis said on the classic 1988 house track, they’re too far gone, there’s no way back.
Tom Reed, writing for STAND