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Ain't that a kick in the head

Just wanted to get a few quick thoughts in about the shambles that was/is the European Super League (ESL). I won't get into the economic aspects because, frankly, this guy would do a fabulous job. However, I've lived for a fair bit in the U.S., a country that has influenced a number of aspects in this post and the situation in general and kind of understand what those jokers were thinking about.

First, let's get this off the chest - UEFA, FIFA, FA, SKY and the rest are no innocent lambs. They are as power-hungry and manipulative as the cabal that dreamed up the ESL. Their smoke-n-mirrors way of working, devious & dubious television deals, invisible, unaccountable distribution and terrible ideas for the 'new' Champions League format (where imaginary coefficients give some teams an advantage) are the reason European football was thrown into a roiling shit-show for about 48 hours. And no one has been flushed out yet. Except this asshat

Americans have been in love with the concept of trickle-down economics for a while. In short, as the chaps at the apex get wealthier, the money makes its way down to the less fortunate. It has not worked. The weird thing is, at least in England, football operates in the shape of the same pyramid, with the Premier League at the top. In the EPL, teams get unequal slices of the tv revenue pie but it's still significant enough that relegation can destroy a team's finances. This is possibly because of the "what got you here will not get you further" theory of life; the team that won the Championship and promotion would find the quality chasm between it and EPL teams pretty vast. So, it generally has two choices. One, it can largely keep the same set of players and do its best (and probably get relegated). Two, it can invest heavily, do its best and pray that it doesn't get relegated. Option 2 is much riskier as the club has overreached financially, so relegation means losing out on tv money and having to pay salaries it cannot afford. 

As we speak, Leeds United look like they're carving a third way - buy just a couple of possibly quality players and do your thing. But, I feel like they're the exception to the rule because Aston Villa's house nearly came crashing down last year after all that investment (they avoided relegation by a point, I think). In any case, there's almost no money trickling down to the lower leagues in England and all of them have been devastated by the pandemic.

Americans also have weird sports leagues. Be it the NFL, NBA or MLB, it's always a closed system. That means no one gets relegated. If you are a winner, yay. But, if you are at the bottom of the pile, no biggie, you can stay there, get comfortable and wait for the year you pull off a once-in-a-lifetime victory, of which Hollywood will make an inspiring movie. And, no new teams can get in unless they cough up some solid dough and start a team in a new city. Kind of like the IPL. Actually, exactly like it. Not sure what the point of these leagues are but hey, if you are looking on the bright side of life, at least there's no devastating effect of relegation to worry about, just owner boredom/bankruptcy. As Pep Guardiola puts it - it's not sport if success is guaranteed

In any case, 12 rich twats wanted to get richer and, suffering from a strong messiah complex, save football in the bargain. So, they proposed a closed football league, made up allegedly of the crème-de-la-crème of Europe. Not sure how Spurs got in but that's another story. They'd play each other, instead of the Champions League, make a lot of money they'd keep for themselves, and, funnily enough, also play in their respective leagues, powered by this exclusive moolah. Like I said, twats. Of course, the powers-that-be weren't having any of it and angrily chucked their toys out of the pram, accusing members of the cabal of being snakes & thieves (which Woodward and the Glazers are, to be fair) and sprinkling a generous measure of other, possibly dud, legal threats for good measure. 

The 12 Twats collectively yawned; lawyers, bankers and businessmen long in the tooth when it comes to professional skulduggery, none of these spouts of outrage were scaring them. What they didn't see coming was fan anger spilling out on to the actual street, particularly in England. Oh and the government getting involved with a promise to make life hell for the 6 English clubs. As is the case in world football in general, England capitulated quietly, with clubs withdrawing from the ESL within 48 hours. As I write this, only Arsenal and Liverpool have had the grace to apologise to their fans. The bastards at Manchester United (and the rest) have only made terse statements announcing their withdrawal. That's it. 

Which brings me to fans. I suspect that club owners have forgotten the power, voice and needs of local fans because of 1.5 years of empty stadiums and decades of increasingly foreign followers. National & international tv revenues plus merchandising makes clubs a hell of a lot more money than gate receipts. But, it's the local fans who made the clubs, really, not some random dudes in Chembur, Kuala Lampur or Tokyo. And the ESL seems to be the proverbial straw that broke the back of the long-suffering locals. And when I say long-suffering, I do not exaggerate. I mean, if Chelsea fans are out protesting, it's got to be bad, right?

In any case, with most chastised clubs now reneging on their ESL agreements, has the day been saved? No chance. Like the pestilential water hyacinth, these twats will live to fight another day, leaving fans with the usual suspects to continue ruining the game. Think I'm kidding? Just take a gander at the new Champions League format. It isn't over yet though... not by a long shot. Anyway, I have rambled on considerably, so let me leave you with the only thing left to say: #GlazersOut

Song for the moment: I'm not playing games - Jerry Reed

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