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The European Super League: an unprecedented act of vulgarity

Sports Editor Alfie Wilson on the greed inherent in the creation of the European Super League.

It’s never ideal when a writer (if I can call myself that) is lost for words. When the issue at hand, in this case the announcement of the creation of a European Super League, has been rumoured or even been likely for over 30 years, to be surprised is somewhat counter-intuitive. But much like the death of Diego Maradona last year, last night’s news was one of those times in football when one is unable to put down their phone or stop seeping in the news, despite naive efforts to believe it isn’t true.

Deplorable. Disgusting. Outrageous. Criminal. As Susie Dent chose as her word of the day on Twitter, ingordigiousness (insatiable greed). Words that everyone has said, and one begins to run out of them to adequately describe the situation, losing their potency in the process. To be honest, I don’t think words can adequately describe it, but I’ll give it a go.

In previous pieces I’ve done for Roar, I’ve hinted at my conviction that, despite supporting an EFL Club and a side who are my local side in Oxford United, it is important not to be too sanctimonious over the moral-high-ground of that act in itself, and respect others’ desire to support “elite” sides with little if any true personal attachment to them. But the time for that has passed now; for any “fan” in favour of the “top 6” clubs who have agreed to join this league (3 of them unfortunately in our dear London) is no fan at all- they are lackies (I want to use something more vulgar and 18+ but am restraining myself) of a system of insatiable greed who enjoy a completely different game to millions of fans across the country. The real fans. Who have unanimously voiced their opposition to this.

Without wishing to deviate too much from Roar’s London focus, the cold and blunt announcement from Liverpool’s official media outlets announcing their intentions was arguably most harrowing of all. A club, alongside Manchester United unparalleled in their size in English football, embodied by its own fans (by and large) as a bastion and manifestation of desired socialist values, whose motto is “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, it was absolutely soul wrenching to see them join up. Bill Shankly is turning in his grave. So too Sir Matt Busby for United. So too Bill Nicholson for Tottenham.

The Super League looks to be an attempt to emulate the American model of league systems, where the jeopardy of relegation is removed, thus totally absolving the structure of real sporting merit. This therefore raises the question of why they’re doing this. Well, obviously we all know why, to recover immense financial losses made more pressing by the pandemic and to add to their voracious appetite for money, power and to further condemn fans, but also why in the sense of the brazenness of the action. As succinctly put by Seb Stafford-Bloor on Twitter today, “It’s difficult to digest that kind of arrogance. The whole world shouting ‘no’ and a small group of individuals, absolutely convinced that they’re right, press on regardless”. Indeed. The absolute cant of them. Replace one of the letters in that last word and, in my mind, you’ve got a fitting word for them too.

As the greed and the arrogance has developed year on year at an alarming rate, I started to veer into agreeing with the crowd of English football saying “f*** em, let them go and rot, and we’ll crack on with the real football”. I never made the jump completely, still believing our structures and tradition to be too sacrosanct to change. Now the announcement has been made, rage has consumed me. Others may say “reckless” to those believing this opinion, but there comes a time where after being blackmailed and exploited for so long a group must break free not just for dignity, but general health and survival.

I’m aware this piece has perhaps lacked the structure of previous ones, and frays frantically from issue to issue in a tirade. Roar will keep you updated as the situation develops, hopefully in a more calculated manner. But when the issue is the greatest single act of crime to football since the idea to give the World Cup to Qatar (to be honest, it almost undoubtedly eclipses that for vulgarity), a rant and a lament is necessary as an ode to our beautiful game. It is a crime to not just to football and sport, but to local communities, England, Britain, Europe and the beautiful culture football represents.

More generally, there’s a question in football that can be asked for society as a whole: why must rich people keep ruining nice things?

A positive note to finish on. Football will never die so long as communities are at the heart of it. No amount of greed will change that. Us fans will win in the end.



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