Don’t blame the founders of the European Super League – they were just being greedy, capitalist pigs

The Super League was simply the rules of the free market, in which everything in the economy is decided by fair competition between everyone, as long as you’re one of a handful of people allowed to compete

Mark Steel
Thursday 22 April 2021 18:14
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If the European Super League had gone ahead, Barcelona and Man City should have broken away from it to form a European League of Magnificence, and played each other every week forever. That way, as the richest clubs, they wouldn’t be held back by annoying smaller ones.

Instead, there was a revolt, led by pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, who said the offending clubs should be thrown out of the Premier League, and there should be demonstrations by the fans. It’s a shame that didn’t happen more, as they’d have been able to analyse them, saying: “We can see the anarchists here, using their pace to get round the back, and the police just can’t allow them that much space.”

Some people suggested it’s a shame that people got worked up over this issue, but aren’t interested in more important matters such as how the banks, drugs companies or supermarkets are run. But that makes no sense, because it’s the same issue.

The European Super League was simply the rules of the free market, in which everything in the economy is decided by fair competition between everyone, as long as you’re one of a handful of people allowed to compete.

For example, supermarkets have strategies for using their power to destroy local shops to ensure they have no competition from outside the cartels they create, and all the football club owners did was try the same technique. Train companies such as Southern Rail are given guaranteed business, funded by the government, when if they had to face any genuine competition they’d be relegated to the Third Division of the Tibsons Garden Centre Worthing and District League of Irreparable Model Railways.

So you have to feel sorry for the club owners, they’re simply applying the rules of business they learned. They must be screaming: “WHY do we have to play Burnley? WHY? Can’t we buy the town and force the government to make it a low-tax zone in which we breed goalkeepers or something?”

And in business, a company is bought by investors who have little interest in the product, only the share price. In fairness, the football owners have tried to follow this rule. For example, one creator of the Super League was Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, who said football must change the length of the game, as “90 minutes is too long”.

This is the mentality of asset-stripping, in which investors take over a company and sell off the bits that don’t appear to make an immediate profit. So Mr Perez’s whole statement probably went: “The crowd gets most excited when there’s a goal, so why don’t we have more goals and less of the bits in between? The problem is we have two teams playing at once. This makes it much harder for the teams to score goals, as the other team tries to get in the way and stop them! It would be much cheaper to supply a football match to our customers if there was only one team playing at a time, and they could score as often as they wanted for 10 minutes, making all the fans extremely happy, with a break for adverts after each one!”

Another way in which the club owners are faithful modern business figures is that they hate instability. This is tricky, because sport can be annoyingly unpredictable. So owners of the big football clubs tried one way to get round this, which was to set up a league in which they wouldn’t have to play lesser teams, and couldn’t be relegated even if they lost every match.

Now they should try something else, such as a new rule in which you can buy the other team’s goals. If an impertinent team with no understanding of business scores against Chelsea or Juventus, the bigger club must be allowed to make a bid for the goal. Then the crowd will witness the thrill of agents and lawyers finalising the deal in the centre circle, until the big proper club is awarded the goal, unless VAR rules one of the accountants was offside. Because business can’t be conducted if a club, which is obviously superior, can be deemed to have “lost” to a club worth one-tenth of the value.

The fans will continue to have a role, as they can sing: “Que sera sera, our share price went up by three, in the tax year to January, que sera sera.” They could even do a deal with sponsors, so Coca-Cola could pay them to chant: “Can you hear the Pepsi sing, I can’t hear a f****** thing.”

All the club owners did was apply the business model that has come to dominate. Some people have asked how they didn’t know there would be a revolt, but it probably never occurred to them, just as energy companies get away with it when they stitch up their prices between a handful of vast companies and we’re all forced to go along with it.

So from now on all business should be on the sports channels. Sky Sports should announce: “Monday night is power night. Npower and EDF LIVE from 8.30”, then Graeme Souness can sit in the studio growling, “They’ve put the prices up AGAIN, how are they allowed to get away with this? They should be thrown out of the National Grid,” while Gary Neville calls for joint demonstrations, saying, “Whether you use gas OR electricity, put aside your differences and make your feelings known.”

And Eurosport can show International Lobbying, in which commentators shout: “The fans have every right to boo Serco off the pitch, they’ve been given billions and the Track and Trace is nowhere to be seen, it just didn’t turn up. We have to find a different way of running things.”

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