Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1130/32411
Super League defeated
Football: no trust in billionaire owners - kick them out and reclaim the game
Socialist Party members Lenny Shail, who is a Chelsea fan and was at the Stamford Bridge protest, and Leeds fan Ian Pattison said:
The withdrawal of the six football clubs in England from the Super League - after protests and action by fans, players and other club staff - will be rightly celebrated. Fans protested in their hundreds at Leeds, and in their thousands at Chelsea.
Liverpool supporters joined the Leeds protest. And supporters of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Liverpool, Manchester City and West Ham were welcomed at the Chelsea protest.
There was reportedly uproar at a Chelsea staff meeting. And Liverpool players simultaneously voiced their opposition.
Premier League club captains were reportedly planning to meet to oppose the plans. Even the security staff at Chelsea were celebrating the news that all but signals the death of the Super League.
But the billionaire owners who attempted to rob our clubs and game are still in charge. They cannot be trusted and must be removed, along with the rest of their big business mates and structures in football.
Now, democratically elected representatives - of fans, of players and other club staff, their trade unions, the wider workers' movement, and local communities around football clubs - must come together to begin the process of reorganising football. We should have the opportunity to inspect the finance books of football clubs, especially the richest that wanted to break away.
Let's see what they really can afford. Football without the billionaire owners could decide to drastically reduce ticket prices, and allow local communities to benefit from club facilities.
And for starters, the new coefficient rule in the existing Champions League - allowing in the richest clubs based on past performance - must be scrapped. This was only introduced as a sop to the owners of the Super League clubs.
Join the Socialist Party's special online meeting on Friday 23 April at 6.30pm to discuss the fallout and what fans, supporters and workers can do next to kick capitalism out of football and reclaim the game.
Socialist Party online meeting
- with John Reid, author of Reclaim the Game
- Friday 23 April, 6:30pm
- Zoom ID: 816 2566 2720
Reclaim football from billionaire owners
Liverpool fan and Hull Socialist Party member, Matt Whale, wrote the article below before the Super League plans fell apart.
The plan to set up a new 'European Super League' has met with frustration, anger and dismay. The proposals have also met with universal disdain, and have managed to unite normally partisan fans across Europe in opposition to this new league.
The proposal is to replace the existing European competitions with a new twenty-team competition. 15 places will be permanently filled by the founding clubs, including the 'big six' in England - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Only 12 founding clubs have been named so far. An as yet unclear process, supposedly related to performance, will decide the remaining five places.
The motivation of the 12 founding clubs is unapologetically money. The biggest two clubs in Spain - Barcelona and Real Madrid - are €1 billion and €900 million in debt respectively.
Capitalists in charge of the 12 teams see the new league as a way of ensuring higher revenue, richer TV deals and a selection of 'bigger fixtures' to market the league worldwide, following the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Rich and poor
Since the 'breakaway' Premier League, and the influence of Sky and its TV money, the gap between the richest and poorest clubs has grown, and continues to grow. Football clubs are increasingly owned by venture capitalists with no loyalty to the club, the fans or the league they play in.
The likes of the Glazers who own Man United, FSG who own Liverpool and Stan Kroenke who owns Arsenal, all own franchises of other sports in the US. They see their football clubs as nothing more than part of their portfolio.
All are billionaires, and all have seen the value of the teams increase since buying the clubs. The Super League is pure greed, and an attempt to further increase profit.
While clubs in the lower leagues have had to furlough players and face bankruptcy, the richest clubs have put into action a plan that is nothing more than a money grab.
The fact that the same 15 teams would play in this Super League every season brings into question the very basic ideals of sporting merit and fair play. At the time of writing, four of the 'big six' in England sit outside of qualification spots for Europe's current 'elite' competition, the Champions League. This shows that the Super League has little to do with the most deserving, but is about the richest keeping their place.
Football's governing bodies and TV broadcasters appear to be echoing the views of the fans. But let's be clear, their issue is the money and control in football moving from themselves to the Super League clubs.
The Premier League itself was set up to ensure that more money would be concentrated in the hands of the elite clubs in England. Europe and world football governing bodies, Uefa and Fifa respectively, have been embroiled in accusations of corruption.
The 2022 World Cup has been awarded to the dictatorship in Qatar, where many construction workers have died. Add to this the farce around tickets for major European tournaments. These are just a few examples of Fifa and Uefa acting in favour of big business.
The Champions League itself was set up to protect the TV rights for the major markets. The Super League is a natural progression of the influence of money and capitalism on football. Fans should have no trust in the billionaire owners of clubs, but equally have no trust in the current leaders of the game.
There is mass opposition to the Super League and protests have already happened at grounds. Building the protests, and linking them up across the country, can defeat this Super League threat. But that alone will only temporarily hold back the march of money and capitalism in football and sport.
Football is now not affordable to many workers. Opposition to the Super League needs to be linked to other issues in football, including the price of tickets. Premier League ticket prices should be £10-£20, and free or very cheap for children.
The Super League is an attempt by the rich owners to monopolise football and increase profits. Capitalism today is short-term greed, over long-term planning and people's need.
The owners are ruthless big business people who got their wealth and influence by exploiting workforces. The likes of the Glazers and FSG see football in the same way an investor in Amazon sees their money, they want maximum profit no matter what the cost.
The Super League - fans don't want it, players don't want it, and I've yet to see anyone apart from the owners indicate this is anything other than damaging to football. The protests and campaigns are an opportunity to discuss the alternative ways football should be organised.
Fans should be in charge. No more leeching capitalists, no more finance capital. Only democratic fan-run clubs can ensure that football clubs and the sport in general remains the beautiful game.
Super League: readers of the Socialist react
The proposed Super League is a disgrace. It further entrenches the economic divide between clubs, and takes the game further away from ordinary supporters.
You can't easily change football allegiance, but I would struggle to cheer on Liverpool if this happens.
Football clubs should be owned and controlled by their supporters. They belong to the community, not to the super-rich.
James Ellis, Liverpool fan
Former players, now TV pundits, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were full of class contradictions when discussing the Super League. Both are working-class people operating in a millionaires' world, but reminded by these events of their roots. They aren't entirely removed, despite their wealth, from the mood in Bury and Bootle.
Neville was grief stricken. He apologising for not resisting the Glazers, and called them "scavengers".
Carragher called for fans to drive out owners and march on stadiums. Millions will be watching and digesting.
Matt Dobson, Cardiff fan
In the 13th edition of Reclaim the Game in March 2019, I wrote: "Yet again there is talk of a breakaway European Super League. It should be named the Corporate Greed League. A number of clubs, including... Real Madrid and five Premier League teams have discussed forming a 16-team European Super League, that could begin as soon as 2021."
Reclaim the Game outlines that the seeds of football greed were sown in 1992 with the breakaway Premier League, which my club QPR were part of. But at least the Premier League retained promotion and relegation, and some money did trickle down to the lower leagues, the football pyramid and grassroots football.
Uefa laughably criticises the Super League as an exercise in greed, but it was Uefa that encouraged and cultivated this greed by abandoning the European Cup and introducing the Champions League, which formed the framework for this breakaway.
Fan groups, footballers' union PFA, and the Football Supporters Federation must organise, including strike action.
Football belongs to the fans. We must fight to reclaim the game. Let us kick out the billionaire corporate owners from our game.
John Reid, QPR fan and author of Reclaim the Game
- Reclaim the Game, by John Reid. Visit leftbooks.co.uk or call 020 8988 8789. PO Box 1398, Enfield EN1 9GT
In The Socialist 21 April 2021:
What we think