This is the only surprise about shameful European Super League plan opposed by Newcastle United
Maybe the only surprise was that it took so long.
It’s taken a global pandemic out those clubs who want a closed shop at European level.
Not that the owners of the clubs involved care about that as they eye the hundreds of millions of pounds on offer from a project funded by a US investment bank.
It’s shameful. Though the owners of these clubs are seemingly shameless.
The clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – have shown a complete disregard for the national game and the competition that makes it what it is.
But it’s not a surprise. The Champions League, set for a revamp, already offers obscene wealth, but there are no guarantees of qualification. The proposed ESL would solve this problem for Europe’s wealthiest clubs.
In a statement, the ESL said: "Going forward, the founding clubs look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new league and for football as a whole."
This isn’t best for football as a whole, this is best for the clubs looking to breakaway and bank more cash while also keeping their hand in the Premier League till.
And that’s the thing. The Premier League can surely stop this with sanctions. They have to stop this.
The breakaway clubs need domestic football, and the Premier League are in a position to intervene. Gary Neville, in a powerful polemic.
"Deduct them all points tomorrow," Neville told Sky Sports. "Put them at the bottom of the league – and take the money off them.
“Seriously, we’ve got to stamp on this. It's criminal. It's a criminal act against football fans in this country, make no mistake about it. This is the biggest sport in the world, and it's a criminal act against the fans. Simple as that. Deduct points, deduct their money, and punish them."
Everyone needs to fight this. It’s time for solidarity. The very idea of a closed shop in Europe is disgusting, and to pretend its about anything else other than more money for fewer clubs is insulting.
European qualification should be based on sporting merit. This is a complete stitch-up driven by corporate interests. Why can’t Newcastle fans – who memorably saw Craig Bellamy fire their team to the second group stage in the 2002/03 season – dream of a future return to the Champions League if future owners get things right on and off the field. Why not?
Already, the likes of Man United and Liverpool have a big financial advantage. Is that not enough?
The Premier League, hardly a paragon of virtue, has taken the moral high ground.
In a statement, the Premier League said: "Fans of any club in England, and across Europe, can dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best. We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.”
Money talks in football, but the fans must be listened to. And this proposal, which has been coming for some time, must be stopped.