FOOTBALL … STOPPED?
The word “super” has been doing a lot of heavy lifting since the shock news broke that six Premier League clubs are among a gang of 12 storied European football institutions who have decided to go rogue and form a €uropean $uper League, which could lead to their dismissal from the Premier League. The Fiver first became aware of it at the precise moment when players of one of the “elite” clubs in question, Arsenal, were celebrating an offside goal in added time that enabled them to scrape a home draw against all-but-relegated Fulham.
On Sky Sports, the resident pundits turned their attention to the €$L bombshell at a time when Manchester United were still being held by Burnley, almost falling over each other in the race to express their disgust at how money and the relentless pursuit of it by men who are already swimming in green is ruining the game. Their pontifications were largely sage and well-intentioned, even if they they did lose a little impact in their delivery from behind a prohibitively expensive paywall a sizeable proportion of the UK simply cannot afford to peep over.
Out of Big Cup and in the home straight of a fairly embarrassing title defence, Liverpool will get to showcase their Super League credentials later at the home of Fun Leeds. Once renowned as a club famously built on working-class foundations, they will travel to Elland Road on a bus daubed with the “This means more” guff dreamt up by some PR firm and for so long eagerly devoured by their fans. Contrary to what they had tried to convince themselves, duped in no small part by a John W Henry charm offensive, it turns out “this” means nish all and their billionaire USA! USA!! USA!!!-based owners are in fact just as venal and grasping as those at other clubs.
While few were surprised to see Chelsea and Manchester City among the rebel alliance, the presence of Tottenham among the 12 co-conspirators did at least raise a chuckle. So elite they last won a trophy 13 years ago, their chairman Daniel Levy celebrated his team’s inclusion in the Gang of Six by sacking José Mourinho, less than a week before their defeat at the hands of City in the Rumbelows Cup final. While it is undeniably a good day for any high-profile club to bury bad news, it is impossible to know which particular snippet it was exactly that Levy was hoping would sneak under the radar.
The idea of the €$L has prompted revulsion from fans of the clubs involved and assorted football governing bodies. At a volcanic press conference, Uefa bigwig Aleksander Ceferin could scarcely contain his fury as he attacked “the snakes” who had “spat in the face” of his organisation. While he had plenty of ire to go around, the brunt of it was reserved for United chief suit Edward Woodward and his former friend, the Juventus president. “[Andrea] Agnelli is the biggest disappointment of all,” he seethed. “I’ve never seen a person that would lie so many times, so persistently,” he added, saying he’d spoken to Agnelli on Saturday and was assured rumblings of a $uper League were just rumours. “It’s unbelievable.”
Unbelievable and yet all too predictable, even if PSG and assorted Bundesliga heavyweights including Bayern have surprised many by refusing to throw their lot in with the 12 teams who have committed so far. In a sensational story that is set to run and run, shellshocked fans remain curiously oblivious, even after the events of the past 24 hours, that the grubby targets of their ire just won’t care.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Talk about sadness, I don’t know about you, but I spent time watching the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at the weekend and for the first time in a long time I was really proud to be British and this morning that’s just gone away” – Ian Holloway’s Union Jack is flying at half mast if this hot take on the €$L is anything to go by.
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“I generally read The Fiver the following workday lunchtime, because I mean – what’s the rush? With that in mind, reading Friday’s on Monday – with its quaint references to Big Cup, Big Vase and José Mourinho – makes it feel like it was penned in some quaint, distant, bygone era” – Jim Hearson.
“Nottingham Forest won two European Cups under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor; this so-called Super League will never let that happen again. Every fan of the English game should understand that what they are doing is killing the very soul of football. These greedy billionaires might as well dig up the corpse of Old Big ‘Ead himself (and Shankly, Busby, Paisley and the rest) and drive a stake through his heart. RIP football” – Justin Kavanagh.
“It would appear your STOP FOOTBALL campaign just came good. Be careful what you wish for. Utterly tragic” – Andy Taylor.
“If Spurs win on Sunday you can bet everything on José (with some justification) claiming it is a trophy won by him. If they lose, he will be perfectly within his rights to point out that – as a very successful trophy winner – they got rid just as he was about to deliver. In sacking him Spurs have somehow bolstered his reputation. A very Spursy outcome” – Colin Reed.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Michelle Owen has shared some of the abuse she received online over her reporting for Sky’s around-the-grounds coverage, and called on social media abomination companies to take stronger action. “At a loss really. It’s something every time I open up my phone, I don’t understand why … let’s all just be better,” she said.
Delia Smith has launched into a song about Emi Buendía to mark Norwich’s return to the Premier League with fans outside Carrow Road. “Thank you, thank you so much for all your wonderful support. You deserve this, you deserve it,” she crooned.
Kelechi Iheanacho is still buzzing after firing Leicester to their first FA Cup final since pre-moon landing times. “It’s a dream come true,” whooped the striker, who scored the winner against Southampton. “We’ll really work hard to make sure we win [the final against Chelsea].”
Kevin De Bruyne will miss Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Wednesday as club doctors prod his knacked ankle and foot.
And Big Phil Neville had a very Big Phil Neville take on Inter Miami’s 3-2 defeat by LA Galaxy in his first MLS match. “We were the team that created the most chances, opportunities and shots and I definitely didn’t think we deserved to lose,” he honked.
STILL WANT MORE?
Only someone who hates football can lead a $uper League, reckons Jonathan Liew. Here’s Marcus Christenson on how the breakaway might work and we also have a roundup of what the papers say: “It’s war!“ in case you were wondering. If you want to know how it came to this, Sean Ingle has the answer, while Proper Journalism’s David Conn weighs in too.
That Atalanta picked this weekend to record their first win in 20 years against breakaway provocateurs Juventus felt powerfully poignant, writes Nicky Bandini.
Sid Lowe on the view from Spain.
When Hansi Flick decided he was going to do one it did not go down well with Bayern, reports Andy Brassell.
Ten talking points from the weekend’s football, for what they’re worth.
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