I will preface this by saying there is still a *lot* we don’t know about plans for a European Super League, how serious those involved are, when the plans might take effect and, indeed, whether this is all a bluff by the clubs at its vanguard.
It is a fast-moving, fast-evolving situation and, even since the news broke on Sunday, the story has moved on and more has been revealed. By the time I post this up, the story may have changed completely again.
What we do know, however, is that the near-universal reaction in the footballing world has been scornful and Arsenal – our club – is one of those in the eye of the storm.
The rewards and prestige of being part of the breakaway competition are obvious – shed loads of money, power and influence at the highest levels of the game and a club boasting the best players, the most glamorous fixtures, and the certainty of riches long into the future. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
The problem is, of course, that, in going public with their rebellious intent, the clubs involved are risking everything. There is already talk, and calls for, instant reprisal against the conspirators; everything from points deduction to relegation.
This is uncharted territory for a club like Arsenal, an organisation recognised far and wide for its traditions and class. Today, I think, that reputation has died. We have sacrificed our soul in the pursuit of extra millions and a place in which to place our snout in the trough.
For many younger fans, those who have grown up in the 21st century, the traditions of football clubs and their long associations with the communities that founded and built them are, at best, abstract. After all, how many GenZ fans live a few streets away from the club they support? To them, the prospect of a European League involving their club may be unmissable. To those of us who have grown up with and followed clubs in the 90s and before, this is nothing more than an avaricious power grab that a club like ours should never be associated with.
None of us should be naive enough to believe that nothing should ever change and that what was should ever be but this what is being proposed is unmistakably a greed-fuelled grab for wealth – and now wealth that will benefit Arsenal the club, its community and supporters. This is a grab for wealth that will ultimately line the pockets of the billionaires who run the club; men and women who already have more money than they will ever need while the staff on paltry wages, and even the club mascot, are dispensed with on a whim.
If you can look past all that – and I understand there are plenty who can and will – this proposal risks the very future of the club. There’s every possibility that ‘the 12’ and any other conspirator who wishes to join will be able to brow-beat the rest of the continent into submission but, if the rest of the continent presents a united front and holds to it, what then?
It’s probably true that the domestic leagues and international organisations would take huge hits by losing their biggest clubs and, by extension, their biggest cash cows but so what? If they can preserve the integrity of their competitions and expel those of us who deserted, who will end up losing in the long run?
Make no mistake, this is an incredibly high stakes game of poker. The billionaires in charge of football’s biggest players didn’t become billionaires by being nice, of course, but is this a hand they have overplayed? For the sake of our club, let’s hope there is still time to fold.