Dave Seddon's verdict: European 'Super League' clubs have lost touch with their fans and roots

The press release announcing an agreement to set up the European Super League pinged into my inbox at 11.22pm on Sunday.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 1:32 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 1:34 pm

How thoughtful that the public relations company handling the story should seek me out as Preston North End writer for the Lancashire Post to pass on the news.

With two league title wins under their belt, were North End going to be a part of this? After all in terms of titles won, they are on equal footing with Tottenham Hotspur who are one of the dirty dozen clubs who have plotted to set up this new competition.

People might scoff that PNE's two titles came long ago, however the second of Tottenham's title wins came in the 1960/61 season and they are lauding themselves as being among the elite on the European continent.

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Action from Manchester City's game against Tottenham - two of the six English clubs who have reached an agreement to form a new European Super League

I pick out Spurs here to have a pop at, but my anger isn't just aimed at them, it is aimed at all 12 clubs who are plotting this midweek super league - plus three others who are supposedly waiting in the wings.

Judging by how this idea has gone down, those three clubs might be best to keep their heads down for a while longer.

These clubs think they can waltz off, have their own cosy version of the Champions League during the week, and then come back to play in their domestic league at the weekend.

It will be the same 15 clubs every season, plus five teams invited on an annual basis presumably for doing well in the biggest leagues around Europe.

A closed shop, a franchise, no relegation or fear of failure. Pats on the back, noses in the trough, milking the cash cow.

Juventus away on a Wednesday night, AC Milan at home on a Tuesday - year in, year out.

How can you call it a league when no one goes down when there is only a limited opportunity for five others to join the game every season?

I presume the five invited to join the 'elite' 15 will be garnered from England, Spain and Italy - no chance for the best Dutch, Swedish, French or Ukraine clubs to have a go?

The 'founder' members assume this will work hand-in-hand with their domestic leagues and no one will bat an eyelid.

However, if the strong words from FIFA and UEFA in reaction to the announcement of the agreement are to be taken with merit, any club wanting to play in the super league will have to breakaway from the footballing governing bodies.

That means leaving the Premier League, La Liga or Serie A, it means players at those clubs won't be able to play for their country at international level.

On that latter point, it won't stop some but it might see others pause for thought.

The clubs behind this agreement have lost touch with their fans, their traditions, their roots.

They don't seem to give a jot about the average supporter who week in, week out, watches their team, travels the length of the country (current restrictions apart), ploughs their own hard-earned money into the club via a season ticket, a match day ticket, a replica shirt.

If these clubs have to breakaway to get their wish and only play in the super league, they will limit their fans to watching the same games over and over again.

Elite sport is about hard competition, the joy of success, the heartache of failure.

You finish bottom of the super league. So what? The season after, Barcelona and Real Madrid will visit again.

Football has to stand firm here, make these clubs go it alone.

If the clubs involved have any sense, they need to gauge the reaction from fans.

The statement about the agreement to form a super league was posted on their official websites and there were thousands upon thousands of replies on social media - the vast majority negative.

Who would ever have thought that Liverpool fans would be reading a quote from Joel Glazer on their website?

I've seen a phrase 'legacy fans' associated to a source within the super league framework, that being in reference to long-standing fans and the current fanbase.

Their target is to entice 'fans of the future', in a nutshell those who only want to see superstars, to who Burnley away means nothing.

It is about developing huge overseas television markets. The financial backing for all this is coming from America and that will be a major market.

I'd say let them go and breakaway, play with their new toy and then realise how boring it is.

English football will survive and this perhaps would be a good time to press the reset button financially.

There are plenty of fine clubs in this country who can get on with life, the big six can be replaced with newcomers further down the pyramid and others can bump up.

Why not talk about Leicester, Everton, West Ham, Aston Villa and so on being the new big clubs?

Football must NOT be a closed shop where failure is rewarded, where new bright young things cannot be allowed to challenge just because they don't have deep pockets.

Manchester City take note. It's not that long ago that they were down in what is now League One with North End, Gary Parkinson slotting home a winning penalty for PNE at Maine Road.

A couple of years later Jonathan Macken was scoring from 45 yards against them at Deepdale.

They've moved through the gears since backed by a lot of money Such upward momentum by another club would be frowned upon within the super league framework as being a threat to the elite.

Ideally this gets stopped in its tracks before it goes much further, if not, let them go and allow football to get on without them.

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