Manchester United captain Harry Maguire tweeted this morning with a simple message that reads, “Let’s everyone stay united” in capital letters with a photo of the 2013 Champions bus procession. Harry Maguire, the captain of Manchester United, was present with a clear message.

European Super League Tweets

Why did this fall apart so rapidly and in such a peculiar way? So, let’s have a look at what was going on behind the scenes at these clubs.

Between the ring leaders who were pushing for this and the other clubs, there was a lot of anxiety, dispute, and conflict over what they had actually signed up for. With American-owned teams Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal, the ringleaders make no mistake. Many of the other clubs rapidly began to have second thoughts about what they had signed up for, believing that they were signing up for something professional, well-thought-out, and correctly pitched to the public, when it became clear that this was not the case.

They awoke to massively bad headlines in all media and negative reactions from fans, FIFA, UEFA, and everyone else involved in the sport. Naturally, they expected their side of the story to be told, a communication strategy to be implemented. The supposed benefits of this European Super League to be communicated to the world. Still, all they got was a deafening silence, except for a ludicrous interview given by Florentino Perez, President of Real Madrid and Chairman of the Super League, to a bizarre Spanish TV journalist. 

European Super League and how it united the clubs
Florentino Perez, President of Real Madrid and Chairman of the Super League
Photo credits: Football Espana

When the owners and executives of these clubs looked at those lines and realized what they’d agreed to, they were shocked. They started to have cold feet and felt as if they’d been strung out to dry. Keep in mind that many of the Senior Executives at these teams were kept in the dark and didn’t want to be a part of this European Super League; individuals who operate these clubs on a day-to-day basis didn’t want anything to do with it. They were frantically dialing their owners’ numbers, trying to figure out why they had agreed to this.

Then Manchester City wanted to be the first club to withdraw, despite the fact that they were one of the last clubs to join in the first place. They wanted to back out, and we had a race building over who would be the first club to withdraw out because there was a notion that if you were the first club to back out, you may earn a smidgeon of positive PR by saying “at least we realized the error, we recognized that we’d made a mistake first, and we got out immediately,” and we had this race building.

Then, as the race progressed, Chelsea became the first team to announce that they would withdraw, and once one club did, it was unavoidable that the rest of the teams would follow suit. Manchester City’s statement makes it apparent that they agreed to participate in a project aimed at establishing proposals for a European Super League.

When you talk to individuals within clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur, they’re almost as if they’re just getting their toes wet. They were following in the footsteps of the other clubs. If anyone is responsible for this disaster, it has to be the clubs, which are mostly controlled by American businessmen who pushed for it to happen. It’s encouraging to see that they’ve confessed to making a mistake and apologized.

The owner of Liverpool, John Henry, has apologized, but it remains to be seen if people will forgive and forget.

Tim Payton of the Arsenal Supporters Trust, an Arsenal fan, stated that they will not forgive.

Can we see supporters thinking, “Well, you know we’ll forget about it now” later down the line? We don’t believe so; we believe there is now a war for football’s future.

These owners’ vision for the future of football is a league in which the great clubs in Europe play one other on a regular basis, with the TV rights for those games sold globally so they can retain the money. That is their vision, and this is why they acquired these clubs.

They did not buy these teams because they like Liverpool or Manchester United. They’ve acquired these teams because that’s the goal, but there’s another view of what football’s future should look like. The vision takes into consideration the clubs’ history, culture, fan experience on match days, and what the clubs mean to their communities. These are the two opposing viewpoints at work here.

Fans, UEFA, FIFA, the Premier League, the FA, and the backlash all believed they were going to get their way. They felt they were close to accomplishing what they wanted to achieve, and it was taken away from them by fans, UEFA, FIFA, the Premier League, the FA, and the reaction.

Will they try again, or will they say, “You know what, it’s not worth the bother, let’s sell our clubs because this isn’t going to work out the way we want it to work out”? it’s not sure that they will ever give up. Our fear is that they will believe they got it wrong this time because they miscommunicated it, that their public relations strategy was flawed, and that they will decide that next time they will do it right, that they will include a Women’s League, that they will talk about diversity and equality, that they will talk about the pyramid and grassroots football, that they will have a glossy prospectus, and that they will have a press conference. Let’s get people engaged and do it well, that’s our fear. This isn’t going away, but as Tim Payton of the Arsenal Supporters Trust put it, “he and other supporters spoke with the prime minister, and once the government gets engaged in this, there’s a chance.”

If you’re a loyal football fan, you’re hoping that something will be done about it. We may see something that Gary Neville and David Bernstein have long advocated for: an independent regulator to supervise and manage English football.

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