It’s been a bit of a crazy few weeks in English football. Villa scored seven goals against Liverpool, and some of the biggest clubs in the country tried to hold the football pyramid to ransom. The dust has settled a bit since Project Big Picture was kicked to touch, although this was definitely the opening shot in what will be a continued power struggle.
Unless you have been on holiday – in which case, I hope you had a nice time freezing your bollocks off on some crap British beach – or living under a rock, then I doubt you would have missed Project Big Picture and all the surrounding hoopla. If somehow it did manage to escape your notice, let me sum it up for you. Basically, Liverpool and Manchester United’s owners got together and had a little secret meeting, Freemasons-like, and decided to shit on every single football club in the country while pretending to help. There were some good ideas in there, such as giving money to clubs in the EFL who are in desperate need of saving, but they came at a huge cost. You want to be saved? Well, if that was the short-term carrot, the long-term proverbial stick came in the form of, oh, just all the voting rights forever in the Premier League.
This attempted coup, which was so outrageous I am sure dictators everywhere shed a cheeky tear in admiration, was completely rejected by the Premier League clubs, because who would vote away their own voting rights? It was, though, overwhelmingly supported in the EFL, because they desperately need the money. Jez Moxey of Burton Albion was in favour and in life my general rule of thumb is to see what Jez Moxey supports and then go and stand on the other side.
So Project Big Picture was scrapped, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief and moved on. The wannabe Freemasons hadn’t moved on though. In the background cogs are turning, and by the time you read this the landscape could be completely different. We are now staring down the barrel of FIFA (yep, top tier corruption squad) suggesting a European Premier League, or as it should really be known, ‘Remember that time when non-approved teams got into European competitions, well, we don’t like that idea so let’s take our ball away so only this pre-approved group can play with it.’ I’ll admit it’s not as catchy, but it’s the same result.
The European Premier League is the latest in a string of truly shady ideas that have come out from those that like to play in the shadow of football, and it reeks of elitism. Why should European competitions become a closed-off gated community only for 18 ‘elite’ teams? What even makes a team ‘elite’? I would be hard-pressed to say that United, Arsenal and Spurs are elite teams any more. Why should European football just be given to a pre-set group of teams, when it should be a reward for how well you do the season before? Imagine if Leicester City won the Premier League with this rule in place, and were told, ‘Sorry, you can’t come and play in Europe as you aren’t part of our gang.’ Imagine winning the FA Cup and being told where to go.
European football is fantastic and one of the last few romantic parts of football left. Travelling abroad with your mates to watch your team play in the best competition in club football must be amazing; hell, even the Europa League is fantastic. I went to three away games last year in Europe and they were three of the best away trips I could have ever been on. (There would have been more, but racists made one game behind closed doors (thanks for that, you shits), and trips to Athens and Seville were cockblocked by COVID-19. Bloody typical; Wolves are finally decent and a global pandemic stops us from basking in their glory up-close.
So why should some twat in a suit decide that teams with ambition – your Wolves and Leicesters – are not allowed to play in Europe because they want to create some super league that’s just about making money? I don’t want to say football is dying a death, but it kind of feels like this is just another nail in the coffin. Fans are already discontented and in the past two weeks we have been subjected to: Project Big Picture; £15 PPV (more on that soon); seeing indoor spaces reopen, but being told stadiums can’t even operate at 10% capacity; and now this European Premier League. What this pandemic should have done is shown football clubs that football is nothing without the fans but instead they seem more interested in making a quick buck and screwing over fans who have been waiting since March to return to stadiums.