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football

People Power: the 48 hour long demonstration against the SuperLeague

“Who knows, perhaps we should even make football games shorter!”

“Sixteen to twenty four year olds are no longer interested in the game!”

We are saving football.”

-President of Real Madrid and former Super League dictator, Florentino Perez

During a pandemic, where so many people across the world are grieving, losing their jobs and income and struggling to get out of bed each day, football has been something that has provided a distraction. Football has been a lifeline to so many. It gives them the opportunity to forget about the current stresses of everyday life, and focus entirely on the match. Whether the team wins, loses or draws- people are invested in and love the team that they support.

The game has faced many controversies with the introduction of VAR during the past two seasons but nothing could have compared to what the money hungry, greedy, out of touch President of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, had in store. What he unleashed on the 18th of April 2021, would be a ground-breaking attack on the very roots on our game, and the heritage, history and foundations of the top clubs around the world.

The rumours started rumbling during Premier League football’s usual ‘Super Sunday’ Manchester United vs Burnley game. Granted, that game doesn’t sound very ‘super’ but you can guarantee that every fan would not change the structure of the premier league for the world, if it was ever under threat. Little did every fan know that soon, the foundations of the game as we know it would be under attack.

At around 4pm on Sunday, rumours of the Super League being announced tonight started brewing from various journalists. The rumours were dismissed by many at first, as the idea of a ‘Super League’ has been floated before in the footballing world and it has always arrived to no avail. Slowly but surely, it became more prominent, and the journalists become louder and louder. There were reports that the biggest clubs in Europe had already signed up to this competition, and there was no backing out. The contracts, according to journalists, were legally binding. All football fans, players and managers watched on in horror and tried to gather any information that they could.

Finally, at 11:30pm, The Super League, a greedy, profit-m0tivated, sham of a project was announced. Twelve football clubs, including six English teams, had committed themselves to joining this new league and it would start as soon as summer 2021. The teams involved including the ‘big 6’ of the Premier League along with big Spanish and Italian clubs. They would play each other every single week. The website was launched. Every club had signed an official agreement. There was no going back. ‘The SuperLeague WILL be going ahead’ reported Sky Sports News, with some reporters in clear dismay and shock. Everyone watched with their mouths agape as the very structure of modern day football was thrown into question.

The Super League said that they would give fans excitement every week through giving the fans ‘big games’ every week, but what they failed to consider is that big games are not games if they’re played every week. They’re just games, and all of the significance of them die. Further reports gave light to the horrifying fact that the billionaire owners of these football clubs would all become vice-chairs of the new Super-League. Not only would this give them the opportunity to influence and be in control of games (corruption) they would also generate even more income to line their pockets with, as if they ever needed it.

The world of football was understandably rocked to its core. In reaction to the announcement of the Super-League, there were suddenly reports flying around by the most trust-worthy journalists that the Premier League was set to excel all of the English clubs from the league if they joined this new profit motivated disgrace of a league. The top clubs in Europe started leaving UEFA, and it was reported that these clubs would never be allowed to play in the Champions League, the biggest European competition and what players grow up dreaming of winning, ever again.

As will be mentioned later, we cannot deny that the footballing institutions such as UEFA are heavily flawed. The sad truth is the dawn of the Super-League announcement became a battle between rich corrupt billionaires for power. While playing their games however, they did not realise that they were putting the very soul of football at risk. They were also setting on fire every memory that every fan had associated with their club. If their club was kicked out of the league, what would the memories of the league matter? If their club was never allowed to play in the Champions League ever again, what would the historic nights in Europe mean in the story of history? All of their significance was being destroyed and stamped on by their out of touch billionaire owners.

The fact that they chose to announce this during a worldwide pandemic when so many people rely on football should show explicitly how out of touch everyone involved in creating this sham was. They are billionaires, and this idea has been brought about during Zoom-Calls in their massive mansions. Make no mistake, they did and do not have a clue about everyday life or about what people want from the sport. It escalated further when more and more comments started to emerge. It was reported that one owner who had signed up to the scheme judged the current fans as ‘Legacy Fans’ and it was time for the game ‘to evolve, to change.’ Effectively, those who wanted to protect the heritage of their club were now being treated as an inconvenient label by a billionaire.

If you have not got the gist already, the Super League was created with one motive in mind: to create more money for the richest. There was talks of the Super-League to be shown on expensive networks where of course the owners of the top clubs would gain even more income than they did under the current system. All the clubs would receive £3 billion between them just for joining, which they defended to ‘help the cover of the costs of the pandemic’ and to build up ‘each clubs infrastructure.’

Think about that for a moment. In a world where so many people are losing their jobs, in a footballing world where so many smaller clubs are struggling to keep afloat, rich billionaires defended their decision to sign up to a greed motivated football project by citing the pandemic. That is an absolute disgrace.

For a while, the rich ripping every football structure that we love apart seemed inevitable. The mood of despair was heightened by the head of the SuperLeague, Florentino Perez’s relentless, unforgiving comments. Not only did he ACTUALLY say every quote I have wrote at the beginning of this post, he also said that every club had signed up to the scheme. It was legally binding and there was ‘no going back.’ Some fans on social media started to have doubts about whether it was really possible to stop this billionaire’s maddening scheme from destroying football.

The billionaires did not expect the huge public revolt that arrived from the SuperLeague announcement. Reports later came out that they never expected such a strong reaction from the football fans. In their world, they thought they could transform using the technique of what is called ‘Disneyization’. By having big matches on television and streaming platforms every week, people would constantly be happy and satisfied. It’s like giving people continuous fast food and that’s the only thing they eat. Because the people are satisfied, the clubs would not stop growing and the billionaires in the league positions would only get richer. They did not anticipate this, because they do not understand football- they do not understand that the very soul of the game is experiencing the highs, but also the lows too. Competition is what keeps the game thriving. The billionaires disconnected from the game did and do not understand that. The fans do.

Every fan was united together to try and stop this from happening. The social media revolt was like nothing ever seen as almost every fan went against their club. A YouGov poll revealed that 79% of people in England opposed the newly created league. Less than twenty four hours after it was announced, before the next premier league game, Liverpool and Leeds fans alike descended with protest banners slamming the owners of Liverpool, FSG, and the contract they had signed. It was later revealed by Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp’s admission that he had found out about the plans at the exact same time that the rest of the world had. As manager of a football club, he had not been consulted on these groundbreaking plans. Neither had the players. Instead, it had been signed off by an out of touch billionaire without a second thought to any of them. It is beyond the pale that the manager of the club was not even told about the upcoming plans to change the entire structure of the way football worked.

As the voices of the fans got louder, virtually and physically, many celebrities and football pundits started to jump onboard. The two most famous pundits in England, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, gave impassioned rants on Sky Sports flagship show Monday Night Football, using their platforms to say exactly what every fan wanted to hear.

“I think supporters up and down this country can stop this. This cannot be allowed to happen.” – Jamie Carragher

“it is an attack on every single football fan in this country. They (the owners) are scavengers. They need booted out their clubs and out of this country.” – Gary Neville

Klopp and Liverpool player James Milner also bravely came out before and after the game expressing their disgrace at the newly proposed plans.

“I don’t like it and I hope it does not happen.”- James Milner

“My opinion didn’t change, I heard about it yesterday.”- Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool Football Club manager, when asked about the SuperLeague.

Although SuperLeague dictator Perez defended himself by saying the contracts were binding Monday night, with an attitude similar to Donald Trump in the early days of his campaigning, action seemed inevitable when the power of the fans led to royalty and politicians shedding their (alleged) disgust on the situation.

The final straw that would break the camel’s back would be when current Premier League players came out in opposition throughout the day. This was demonstrated on social media, but it was also verbally demonstrated by two Manchester United players, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, directly to the chief executive of Man United, Ed Woodward. According to reports they exclaimed the disgust at the SuperLeague proposals in spectacular fashion. Teams eventually got cold-feet as Chelsea fans descended outside Stamford Bridge to protest the plans, and once the first teams pulled out, all the English clubs fell like a pack of pathetic, disgraced dominos. Cheers from the protesting fans erupted outside Stamford Bridge when their club announced their intention of withdrawal. As I sit writing, the SuperLeague plans, after 48 hours of hysteria, are dead in the water.

This is not a win for the billionaires. They could never have even see this coming, as they will never understand football. It is a win for the fans of the game. Without the fans revolt and disgust at the plans, the players may not have had the confidence to protest online, to go to their Chief Executive and question him, to organise a coordinated protest against the plans like Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson did with all of the clubs players. Without the fans, there was a huge possibility all the history of football clubs would have been wiped by billionaires in an instant.The clubs could have been disgraced from the Champions League and kicked out of their national league. What the fans kept close to their hearts and as happy memories, emotions and experiences would have meant nothing within an instant, all due to the money grabbing instincts of the revolting owners. Instead, the voices of the fans coming together should prove to everyone that change can be initiated, and we have stopped these plans in their tracks. Every banner, every tweet in protest, every conversation that has happened in the homes of families today matters. Make no mistake: the players, the managers and the fans are all the soul of these football clubs. The owners that agreed to the SuperLeague plans without consulting anyone apart from their bank accounts do not deserve to be associated with such wonderful institutions. They are leeches, parasites, and a stain on the footballing institutions within Europe.

This is the current mood within the fanbases of the top clubs. Instead of being happy that their clubs withdrew their SuperLeague plans on Tuesday night, their instant response was to call for the booting out of the capitalist owners. For the first time, even football pundits and football legends have gone out against the owners, some on live television. No fan of the football clubs that have breached the trust of their devoted followers will rest until these parasites are long gone out of the football clubs. We are not disgusted, but now are eyes are fully to the fact that power will always be with the people, even in the footballing world, regardless of what the rich billionaire owners spit at us. It is a galvanised effort among the fans to stop this in its tracks, and everyone should be proud.

The fight is not over. This will not be a moment that is a flash in the pan- it will have lasting effects in the footballing world. It is not a secret that leading football organisations, UEFA and FIFA, are corrupt to the core and are motivated only by profit, not by fan satisfaction. Perez, the man who started this mess was not right about many things, but he was right about one thing: UEFA are anything but transparent in their decision making and their morals are entirely led by money. They are proposing a new model of the European Champions League that represents the elitism that they are desperately trying to cling onto, with some positions in the Champions League being awarded to the ‘top clubs’ automatically, regardless if they qualify fairly or not. FIFA are also holding the next World Cup in Qatar, where over 6500 workers have died building the stadiums that FIFA are going to generate huge income from, not to mention the workers that do survive are paid well below what they should be.

As I write this blog post, the fight is also not over within the biggest English football clubs, especially those built on working class roots. Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United are all dealing with club owners that are corrupt to their core. The time has come for all of the owners to get out of these clubs that have so much working class heritage, which they couldn’t have represented any less if they had tried. To showcase what I mean, let’s take a look at FSG’s reign at Liverpool Football Club.

In their time as owners, they have made sure that the prices of football match tickets are hiked to disgusting amounts. This means that a lot of residents in the local community haven’t been able to afford to go to games anymore, freeing up seats for some fans that couldn’t care less about the match and instead sit eating their pizza and drinking their Coca Cola. The owners don’t care though, as it’s more money for them. FSG have also attempted to trademark the name ‘Liverpool Football Club’ to generate more financial gain for them. In March 2020, they also attempted to put all of the LFC employees on furlough. We’re talking about billionaires running away from paying ordinary workers their wages, to try and save their money. They were only stopped and were forced to U-turn because of the significant fan revolt.

Surprisingly, many big fan channels and some fans accepted these acts as ‘PR gone wrong.’ The joining of the Super-League, without even consulting the manager and the players of their club before signing the contract however, is the last straw for every fan.

These parasites need to be driven out of Liverpool Football Club. We’ve seen how loud the voice of the fan can be when we all come together, and we need to keep going. All the fans need to protest until the rotten owners at every club walk out, as they are not welcome. This was once a country where football was played by the working class in the docklands and in the streets. It was built in the beating heart of cities. We’ve had owners in this league that have exploited it for far too long. That way, England may be on the road to reforming football within this country, once and for all.

This leads me onto my final point. We need to give fans more of a say as to how their football clubs are run. We need to lobby the UK government into accepting the 50-1 rule for every English football club, which is adopted by German football clubs in the Bundesliga, so the fans voice can become elevated. The 50-1 means that all clubs are half owned by the fans themselves, and they have a say in any big decisions. Is it really a coincidence that the clubs that all rejected invitations to the Super-League, such as Bayern Munich and Dortmund, were German? As fans of football, we must not stop shouting for further reform in football. This should only be the start of the conversation.

During a traumatic and shocking forty eight hours, all football fans mobilised and stood together. They managed to make the Super-League collapse, in the face of rich capitalist men, hungry for profit. I hope this has shown to many that if we all collectively come together, our voices are a lot stronger than we think. Yes, the UK government may have had an influence in the English clubs decision to pull out, but they would not have taken any action if the fan revolt wasn’t so great. The idea of generating profit without caring for the common people is right up the Conservative Party’s street, after all! We all should remember that collectively, in all walks of life, our voices are all stronger together. Nothing is ever legally binding if it comes from a rich person’s mouth (sorry Perez!) we can initiate change and we can fight back.

Thank you for reading this blog post.