Dave Seddon’s Preston North End Press View: Lilywhites and Derby showed TRUE meaning of the game
There was plenty to hold our attention during Preston North End’s win over Derby County on Tuesday night.
Three goals, a clean sheet, a bump up the Championship table and relegation fears for Wayne Rooney’s side were the tale of the tape of Deepdale.
In the background was the impending collapse of the European Super League proposal.
During the game it was hard to resist a quick look at Twitter for the latest developments as the plans unravelled.
Before PNE kicked off against the Rams at 7pm, the rumours had started to build that one of the ‘Big Six’ English clubs in the plot was wobbling and on the verge of pulling out.
By the time North End had won 3-0 and the post-match interviews done, the ESL was a smouldering ruin.
Notice of intent to withdraw from the ESL plan had been served by the six and Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward had handed in his resignation.
Rams boss Rooney was asked for his thoughts on Woodward, having worked with him at Old Trafford.
Rooney, already sporting a frown after his side’s defeat to PNE, was unimpressed to say the least with the timing of the question.
That was the cue for his post-match press call over Zoom to end and Rooney quickly left the executive box in the Invincibles where media duties are done.
The question had to be asked of him, but so soon after a defeat, it was never going to be answered.
I’ve run events at Deepdale in line with what was going on in Manchester, Liverpool and London, in a bid to underline just how quickly the ESL plans went under the bus.
The idea for 12 clubs to form their own European Super League, bring in three other ‘founders’ and then invite five others annually, only came into the public domain on Sunday.
At first it just looked like a leverage tactic ahead of UEFA announcing plans for a revamp of the Champions League.
But pretty soon it became clear this was for real, a press release dropping into the inboxes of many reporters – mine included – on Sunday night just as Match of the Day 2 was finishing.
Two good, two bad. This was definitely bad.
The proposal sparked outrage from the first whistle to coin a football phrase.
It was the closed shop which fuelled the anger, the fact that 15 clubs were going to play in this tournament year after year without the need for qualification.
Two fingers to the rest: stuff you Everton, stuff you Leicester, stuff you West Ham, stuff you Aston Villa – stuff everyone in fact.
However a good season anyone else had, it would be invite only to the big boys’ cosy kickaround.
There would be no relegation from the ESL. If a side finished bottom, so what? Come back the next season and let’s do it again.
This is professional elite sport, where winning and losing is the foundation on which it is built.
Franchise sport might work in the United States but it doesn’t in Europe.
You’d be asking players who have been trying to win games and avoid defeat since they were little kids, to take no notice of losing.
How the executives of the ’dirty dozen’ thought they could push this idea through, goodness only knows.
You can only imagine they were so blinded by money that they left all common sense outside the meeting room and ploughed on driven by greed.
Was there no one telling them this was a bad idea or did they not want to listen?
The apology statements and videos which came in the wake of the collapse, generally alluded to them not appreciating the amount of feeling against the idea.
How could they be so blind? How could they so badly underestimate how their own supporters were going to feel?
It showed a disconnect between club and fans, a disregard for the people who come in through the turnstiles.
Did the Big Six in England not have anyone advising them or was it tunnel vision with a pot of cash all they were seeing?
Had the idea been allowed to gather pace and become reality, the initial losers would have been those clubs in the top-seven or eight bracket who would be losing out on European football.
But the affect would have eventually been felt by clubs all the way down the pyramid.
Had the six been forced to breakaway from the Premier League to join the ESL, you suspect the TV companies would have looked to renegotiate the television deal in England.
Less money would have been paid for the rights, less money would come down the divisions by way of solidarity payments.
There needs to be a penalty for the six clubs for showing their complete disregard to fellow clubs.
They started the fight and deserved every blow from the kicking they’ve had since.
But surely they can’t be allowed to walk away from this without any sort of formal penalty?
If there is any good to come out of the last few days, it is that the six clubs’ grip on English football has been loosened somewhat.
For while at least they won’t be able to railroad Premier League meetings, trust in them gone.
The football romantic in me hopes for a levelling of the playing field slightly and for this time to be used as a financial reboot. I fear it won’t and if that is the case, it is a missed opportunity.
Those in charge of the six need to watch over the next couple of weeks to see how promotion and relegation works, the excitement and tension it brings.
Rooney had a face like thunder at Deepdale because he knows if the next three games don’t go well, Derby will play in League One next season.
It’s why Frankie McAvoy is in charge at PNE and not Alex Neil, because the drop was feared. That’s football.