Joining fans, German super clubs reject Super League

April 18th should’ve just been another normal day in the world of football. Manchester United was playing Burnley in the English Premier League (EPL) and everything seemed as normal as it could be, considering the COVID-hit landscape of the major sporting leagues.

Then news broke of a proposed new league – the European Super League (ESL) – news that shocked some into declaring that football is dead.

Twelve of the biggest teams had signed a deal to be a part of this Super League, and fans of each of these teams took to social media and talkback stations en masse, vehemently disowning their clubs and vowing to boycott them unless a swift reversal took place. Most fans believed that the new league wasn’t about expanding the game, or bringing new fans to it – instead, they argued, it was about making the rich richer and keeping the smaller, poorer clubs down.

English-born Australian football fan Charlie Beresford has had ties to the sport since his birth. Beginning his life in Chesterfield, England before moving to Melbourne at a young age, his whole family followed the local club and the sport as a whole.

“What these clubs and their owners are trying to do is honestly disgraceful. These are the biggest clubs in the world, our English clubs, being run by Americans with no idea about football, and they’re trying to take our game away from us. It wont happen, our people wont let it, the fans wont let it,” he said.

“My family is from Chesterfield, a small town in England and towns like this need their football club to survive. They provide jobs to the locals, entertainment for the town, it’s where the working man goes to relax on the weekend.”

He describes it as similar to footy in Melbourne.

“It’s what Saturdays are for over there, it’s like local football here in Australia. Everyone comes together and it really provide a community spirit and these are things that could be taken away if a league this can go ahead,” he said.


European Super League: Poll finds younger fans happier about prospect of  breakaway league - BBC Sport

The Super League was to support its 12 founding clubs with approximately $US3.5 billion US – a point fans have expressed a particular distaste for. Throughout the last year, with COVID a major factor but also a lack of support and resources, small yet iconic clubs like Bury FC have been forced into shutting their doors and now the big clubs, who claimed they needed the UK Government’s furlough system to keep people employed, would now be pocketing extra cash through a new league with the other wealthiest outfits.

It’s not only fans who have taken aim, but also former players. One of the most vocal has been former Manchester United captain and current Sky Sports UK pundit Gary Neville, who in an infamous rant declared he was most disgusted with his former club and their bitter rivals Liverpool, saying both sides were born from workers in their local areas a hundred years ago, and now wanted to join a league they couldn’t be relegated from.

“Pure greed,” he said.

One shining light from the debacle has been the way the top German clubs handled the Super League. With majority fan ownership mandated by German law, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich said they would not sign up and that the Super League was bad for football – a sentiment that’s been shared online by the masses. This has prompted debates that perhaps the UK Government should adapt a similar model, granting fan ownership to all English clubs, in order to avoid a similar situation in future.

“This is the type of model I think all football clubs should adopt. If the fans have some stake in the club we can avoid situations like this one,” Mr Beresford said.

“You can ask any fan – whether they support one of these massive sides or a local team like where I’m from – no one wants this, no one supports this and we deserve to have our say when it comes to outrageous, money centred decisions like this.”

So as the world proclaims ‘football is dead’, and the Super League was declared DOA after clubs pulled out, the saga can only be described as the most unpredictable and unimaginable in the sport for decades. Whether the idea will be resurrected we don’t know, but what we can predict is the fans’ reaction is likely to be passionate, and firmly against it.