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Any remaining trust, any bond of loyalty that fans of Europe’s biggest clubs had has surely been broken with this latest power grab – and from this latest showdown, it is hard to see how the elite European game recovers from what is surely the biggest crisis to face football says Dr David Webber.

19th April 2021
Sport and fitness

The ESL is already toxic and devoid of any legitimacy – but it is the inevitable consequence of football’s march towards capitalism. While fingers will, quite rightly, point towards the avarice of football’s small clique of billionaire owners, first lured to the European game with the promise of ever-increasing television riches, they have simply exploited a system that for three decades at least treated supporters as a cash cow.

Yet many fans too are themselves culpable. Rather than follow their counterparts in Germany – interestingly, whose clubs are conspicuous by their absence – the majority of supporters in England have demanded that their clubs be handed over to billionaire owners to finance the acquisition of new players and remain competitive on-the-pitch.

Rather than institutionalise the ‘50+1’ ownership model that would have locked in an altogether more socially democratic arrangement and surely strangled at birth this Super League, supporters, politicians and league organisations have steadily handed the keys of their clubs over to those owners with the deepest pockets.

We should not be surprised by this latest but hopefully terminal development. Football needs an urgent reset, and a long overdue conversation as to its relationship with its supporters and those communities – rather than its current owners – that give the game its meaning, soul and social purpose.

Dr David Webber is Course Leader for BA (Hons) Football Studies and BA (Hons) Football Business Management. You can read his full profile here.