⚽ I was tempted to write this week's article to gloat over the demise of Celtic and the "nailed on 10 in-a-row" following yet another Old Firm defeat against the mighty Gers, but alas current events have forced a rethink.
I don't think many of the TPQ's regulars will be disappointed! So, to the bigger story this weekend: Europe's "elite" have finally announced their breakaway league. It has not gone down well with the pundits or Boris Johnson and rightly so in my opinion. It has been called everything from "disgusting" and "greedy" to "devastating" with the British PM saying he would try to stop it. Football in these islands holds a special place in people's hearts and it is with a sense of dread for many that this point has been reached.
Football in the 80s got out of control, hooliganism, Heisel, Hillsborough and many, many other incidents forced change on our game. The advent of seats, modernisation of stadia and ticketing reduced the violence and incidents without lowering the atmosphere too much. The enforced changes were mostly positive, footy once again became a family sport. The English Premier League teamed up with Sky TV and we witnessed a soccer revolution, top quality live footy on the TV. Then we saw the Champions League become the best footy competition on the planet.
Suddenly, there was mass global interest in European football and the sharks started circling. Clubs that were traditionally locally owned were bought by oligarchs and oil barons and it became clear that they were in the game to make money and not to entertain the locals. For example, we experienced the owner of Cardiff trying to change the club colours and crest, and the owner of Hull City trying to change the club's name to the Hull Tigers to better market the club in Asia. Fan power and relegation from the EPL saw them off, but we all knew that the big clubs would try something more audacious, the much talked about European Super League.
I have to say here that I am not without a modicum of sympathy. FIFA and UEFA have been corrupt like few other sporting bodies in history and have retained power with some ruthlessness. Watching Blatter and Platini fall has been a pleasure to watch. However, on this issue I have to agree with the governing bodies. A super league with no relegation is anti-competition.
And who are the "big 6" anyway? Would that include City, Arsenal and Spurs who have never won the Champions League? Leicester and Blackburn have won more Premier Leagues than Spurs! What gives those clubs the right to be in the "big 6"? The fact that some seasons the "big 6" don't qualify for the CL is clearly the reason they want a super league. England only has 4 CL spots so by design you have to earn the right to play with the big boys and so it should be! This is what make the EPL so good, so competitive. Literally any club in England can theoretically get into the CL. Wolves and Sheff U had a good go at it last season with Leicester only falling short in the last few games. This is the essence of the EPL and what makes the CL so very special.
It is bitterly disappointing to see the clubs go down this route but unfortunately not surprising. It would be truly great for football if fan power stopped it, a super league played in empty stadia wouldn't be super. Alas, I am quite pessimistic on this one and think that big money will win in the end. I hope I am wrong.