No matter how this plays out, and even if the ‘Super League’ doesn’t happen, Liverpool’s owners have lost their fanbase and trust.
Fenway Sports Group have, until now, been relatively good owners for Liverpool FC – they’ve delivered a lot and put Liverpool back among Europe’s elite.
They have done that by sporting achievement, appointing a manager, growing the club sensibly, improving infrastructure and working hard to achieve that.
But to be a key player in making Liverpool one of the ‘Super Clubs’ they have proven they have no understanding of Liverpool as a city, a football club, or its supporters.
Even if there was to be an eventual backtrack – something FSG have been masters in during their time in control of the club – there is no coming back from this. The trust is broken, lost forever.
What the American ownership group, headed by principal owner John W. Henry, do not seem to understand is that their desired changes would render the actual sport of football relatively meaningless.
Liverpool FC could finish bottom of the proposed new ‘Super League’ but it would not matter, they would be in it again next season, and the season after, and the season after.
Even as Liverpool supporters, we don’t want that. We want our team to achieve things based on sporting merit, not because they happened to have the most clout when the league was set up.
Meanwhile, due to the increased number of games in the ‘Super League’ it would be impossible to play the strongest team in both that and the Premier League and so winning the Premier League would no longer be celebrated in the same manner. ‘Super Clubs’ would be focussed on winning the ‘Super League’ and play rotated teams in the domestic competition.
Liverpool fans were denied a title celebration due to the pandemic, now they would never feel that elation of achievement ever again. The sporting merit is gone, lost forever.
Even if you win the ‘Super League’ there would be no meritocracy – you didn’t qualify for it, you did nothing to warrant being in the competition in the first place.
Liverpool FC could finish bottom of a Super League, 17th in the Premier League, and it would not matter because they would still be in the ‘elite’ competition the following season. Why bother?
What they seem to have misunderstood is that sporting integrity matters in England and Europe. Even if a ‘Super League’ model benefits Liverpool by them being in the ‘founding members’ and forever entrenched among the ‘elite’, why bother then if you’re guaranteed that?
Liverpool’s game against Leeds United this evening was a key game of seven remaining fixtures for Jurgen Klopp‘s side to achieve qualification for next season’s Champions League. Under the ‘Super League’ model there is nothing to play for.
In normal times it would be a passionate atmosphere at Elland Road this evening, a win would be celebrated, the fans would be part of the game. Under the new model, would a win really be as important or significant? Would the players even need to work that hard – what difference really does a draw or defeat even mean?
This is summed up today by Liverpool’s official Twitter account – a key communication tool for the club – has no mention of this evening’s game. The football is pointless.
And then, what happens when the Premier League TV deals are completely and utterly obliterated by this and the impact it has on the other teams in England (and other domestic leagues around Europe)?
The ‘Super Clubs’ would need to carry bigger squads, do they just swallow up all the best players, devaluing the domestic leagues further?
So non-‘Super Clubs’ suffer further, the overall sport is devalued further. What ambitions do teams like Leicester, Everton, West Ham and Co. have? Why would Everton bother with a new stadium? Where would the funding for that come from now? Their ambitions are forever limited.
The disparity becomes greater, the dreams and ambitions of the many become broken. Even as Liverpool supporters, we want other clubs to have that dream.
What is also abhorrent about the situation is that there is a clear attempt to take advantage of the pandemic and empty stadiums. The backlash is already ferocious, with the Spion Kop 1906 supporters’ group announcing they will be removing their banners from the Kop, and banners instead have already been displayed outside of Anfield against the ‘Super League’.
If this was being done in normal times, the protests would be huge.
This is an attempt by already extremely wealthy businessmen to completely destroy the sporting integrity of English and European football.
John Henry and Co. have hidden behind statements and showed absolute cowardice, complete disregard for the supporters who create and make their ‘product’ unique. In a business sense, they are killing their own ‘unique selling point’.
Managers have not been consulted over these plans, yet we’re told that this ‘Super League’ is to begin in August. How can Jurgen Klopp not be told of a complete change to his job that will require massive planning, with four months to go?
It’s utter contempt for the managers, players, supporters and everybody involved in this sport. A few wealthy businessmen making decisions to rip up the sporting institutions that have been around for centuries.
An Italian newspaper editorial on Monday writes that “the Super League is the antithesis of football: they want to kill the passion for the game in the name of profit… and to turn fans into mere consumers.”
Sporting integrity matters in sport.