Football at the highest level is no longer a game for the common person. We’ve known this for some time. The common person is invited to the party but must act like a rich person because that is who the game is courting. From restrictive club membership schemes and obscene ticket pricing to requiring three different television and streaming packages to watch games, football is being made more difficult for those without wealth. This isn’t new but it’s worth further discussion.
We can look at how Qatar was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Bribes were taken and political favours conducted but the working class are left to build the infrastructure in near slavery conditions.
In Spain, there has been talk of a league game being played in the United States. The two teams in question are Barcelona and Girona. The common fan in Catalunya would have to fly to somewhere like Miami to chant for his side in an unfamiliar stadium, in an unfamiliar land at an incredible cost. All for what? To “spread the game?” Sometimes, I wonder if these entities understand what it is they are spreading. The Premier League has explored a similar thing. Thankfully it hasn’t gone further than mere discussions, as yet.
In theory, FFP was meant to ensure the long term stability of football clubs and make sure that all clubs were on a somewhat even playing field . As we’ve now seen, those who were supposed to be implementing it were working behind the scenes to please the richest owners in world football, rather than the fans. As Gianni Infantino showed with Manchester City and PSG, the fans are his least concern.
The other day on one of the various podcasts that I listen to, a fan said that football was no longer the game for the common man. I laughed and just in time one of the pundits said that those days were over many moons ago. The incident the fan was referring to was the proposed 5 million golden handshake for outgoing Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore. I really don’t care about that. Now we’re hearing that the incoming CEO Susanna Dinnage will have to deal with making the “big” clubs happy and not making the smaller ones feel marginalized. This is obvious code for giving more money to the big ones while keeping the smaller ones on board (as if they have a choice). This isn’t just a Premier League problem, it’s an international one.
Since I was a kid, there have been rumblings of a European Super League. The “big” clubs coming together to form a breakaway competition due to dissatisfaction with the money from UEFA, and that they have to do such a thing as qualify for a place in European competition. As if earning your place in life is such a horrendous thing to expect. After Der Spiegel published leaked information pertaining to secret super league meetings, it’s clear that the clubs really do want to do this if UEFA don’t bow to their demands.
Arsenal and Liverpool are two clubs who have publicly stated opposition to the Super League though Arsenal admitted that they did consider it. The rest have been noticeably quiet. International fans as I am (of Manchester Utd) might enjoy getting to see the “best” players play against each other week in, week out. However, fans like myself who enjoyed Leicester City’s title win in 2015 will be robbed of the possibility of any miraculous seasons such as that one ever again. Would investors bother spending money on a club like Bournemouth when they can’t get into the Super League because they aren’t a “big” club? The people who would suffer the most are fans. Gone would be the days of Manchester United fans taking the train to Newcastle to cheer their team on and provide their famous away support. Gone would be the story of Crystal Palace being a bogey team for Liverpool. Yes, it’s relatively easy for Barcelona in La Liga but just last week Real Betis beat them 4-3 at the Camp Nou and it was a wonderful story.
Football is no longer for the common person. It’s quickly becoming a soulless money spinning exercise but the Super League would be the final nail in the coffin. One that rich and incredibly corrupt football executives would love to bring forward sooner rather than later.