You’ve got to hand it to the owners of EPL clubs Liverpool and Manchester United. We all have the feeling in the back of our minds that the world we walk into after the Covid threat is over will be one where disaster capitalists will be rubbing their palms like they’ve just thrust their hands into a patch of nettles, just itching to make plenty of money from others’ misfortunes.
But that’s all a bit too polite for some, so United and Liverpool aren’t going to wait that long before they started feeding on the carcasses. They’re hungry now.
By Dave Bowler
They’ve headed up a new plan to “restructure” the Premier League in what they consider to be a more appealing form – appealing to those who are hungry for more and more money and less interested in, you know, sporting competition and the soul of the game.
The gist is the Premier League would be chopped to 18 teams, the League Cup abolished in its present form, the Community Shield scrapped and an end put to the 14-team majority voting system for PL change. You will probably not be surprised to learn that Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham are all said to be keen on the plan.
This is the gun that’s being held to the game if the EFL wants to get their £250million “solidarity” – there’s a laugh – payment to help them through the pandemic, plus a £100million “gift” – which is a novel way of spelling “bribe” – to the FA.
You’ll not be surprised to learn that the EFL chairman Rick Parry, fell to his knees and got the Big Six’s trousers down around their ankles almost as soon as the story was leaked. And you’ll be even less surprised to learn there is no record of him canvassing the opinion of the 72 clubs he supposedly represents.
You’ll already be aware, of course, that he was formerly CEO at Liverpool. Then he was the first CEO of the Premier League after he played full part in breaking up the Football League, the organisation of which, oh yes, there’s a turn up, he is now chairman. Honestly, I’m not making this up.
Given that the Premier League has already come out in opposition to the idea and has openly criticised Parry’s support, you might be forgiven for thinking that Parry now sees his future as the CEO of the new, improved, whiter washing, cleaner smelling, kills 99% of all known germs dead AllNewPremierLeague. But of course, I’m sure nothing is further from his mind.
There’s nothing new in the “Big 6” blaming every other club for their inability to make even more money – that was how the Premier League started. Nothing except the fact that Everton are no longer in that number, replaced by Manchester City.
Everton have, therefore been thrown the sop of “special status”, which presumably means they’ll never be relegated, along with other members of this new SS, West Ham and Southampton.
What makes their waste products smell so much sweeter than those of Aston Villa, Newcastle or Leicester City – who have actually won the league, which is more than West Ham, Everton or Southampton have ever threatened to do – can only have something to do with money.
It seems to be very similar to Ferrari having special status in Formula 1 at present, despite their current car having all the properties of a supermarket trolley.
What that would mean is the creation of an 18 team league from which nine clubs are immune from relegation. When you add to that nine the likes of Leicester, Wolves and a rejuventated Leeds, who look as though they might well be too good for the rest for quite a while yet, you’ll have six more teams – let’s call them “The Drowning Six” – who will be perennially yo-yoing between divisions along with three or four Championship outfits.
Doesn’t that sound like a tempting sporting prospect, shooting for promotion, merely for the privilege of being crucified every week for nine months until you start the process all over again?
And for those who think the proposals are ok, that currently, they’re alright Jack, just think on this. First they came for the First Division and Oldham Athletic and Coventry City thought that was ok.
Then they came for the 22 team league and Sheffield Wednesday and Wimbledon thought that was ok. Now they come for the 20 team league and the League Cup and I guess that Newcastle United and Aston Villa might think that’s ok.
Next they’ll tell the Football League that the price for accepting their money is accepting their B teams in the league and scrapping the pyramid. And then they’ll come for the FA Cup and those without “special status” so they can have a European league. And then they’ll come for the special status clubs. Because with these people, no amount of money is ever enough, not until they’re stopped and reminded that football is not about wealth accumulation.
It is about soul, it is about community, it is about supporters, it is about family, it is about continuity. And it’s time those who would sell its soul were stopped in their tracks and stripped of their power to do it. Though it may already be too late.
Dave Bowler is the author of “The Magic of the Cup 1973/74”, telling the story of Liverpool’s FA Cup win in 1974. Available here: https://www.curtis-sport.com/books –
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