ESL lost power struggle with UEFA and FIFA, fans did not win anything - John Barnes

By April 21, 2021

The implosion of the European Super League (ESL) over the past 48 hours was more about the breakaway group losing out to the establishment and had little to do with the fans.

That’s the view of former Liverpool player and Jamaica national coach John Barnes, who believes the attempt to launch the ESL was no different from when England’s elite clubs broke away to form the English Premier League 29 years ago.

The outspoken Jamaican-born former Liverpool and Watford star was on TalkSport with hosts Ally McCoist and Laura Woods today responding to questions about Tuesday’s implosion and the subsequent apology issued by Liverpool’s owner John Henry, who is believed to be one of the principals of the now failed breakaway attempt.

“I want to apologise to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the past 48 hours,” said Liverpool's billionaire owner.

“It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans. No one ever thought differently in England. Over these 48 hours, you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you."

Notwithstanding the apology, Barnes said the move by the owners of the elite clubs was nothing new.

“It seemed to be heartfelt. How meaningful it is we don’t really know,” Barnes said of Henry's apology. “What’s been happening has been a power struggle between elite groups to exploit the fans, that’s all it was. It’s just a question of who is going to exploit them.

“So now that the ESL is not going to exploit them, it will be the same old guard, FIFA, UEFA, The Premier League, the big clubs because if the fans really won, how many of those Chelsea fans outside the ground, how many of them can get tickets for the game, how many can afford the 150-Pound shirts, how many can afford their Sky subscriptions?

“So it’s about still exploitation of the fans. This is what this is. It’s just about the question of who will exploit them, and they’ll be exploited by the same old faces.”

McCoist asked Barnes given the circumstances, whether there should be an attempt to do something to upend the current status quo and stop the exploitation of fans.

He replied: “By doing what? The status quo is now exactly the same. This was, in my opinion, an attempt by the big clubs to try and get more money from UEFA. Let’s not forget that this started in ’92 when an elite group, five clubs wanted to pull away. They enticed the other 15 in the Premier League to pull away from the Football League to the detriment of League One, League Two, grassroots football and the Championship because they wanted more money for themselves. That’s why the Premier League started and that was what this group (ESL) tried to do.”

McCoist then asked if the fans should keep going with their protests now that they have shown that they have the power.

“They didn’t do it,” Barnes replied. “Sky did it. UEFA did it. FIFA did it. That’s what happened.

“Keep going, don’t go to matches. We’ve had this before where fans said we won’t pay the tickets; we won’t go to watch the matches. We are trying to convince the fans that they are the ones who did it, but as much as they have done it, do you think now that all of a sudden that ticket prices are going to come down or the shirt prices are going to come down or Sky subscriptions are going to come down. That’s not going to happen.”

In the last 24 hours, all six English clubs have withdrawn from the ESL that was supposed to be a cash-rich league featuring some of the world’s biggest clubs including Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Overall, there was to be a 20 team league split into groups of two and matches would be played in midweek, with the clubs earning almost twice their annual match revenues earned from the Champions League.

However, UEFA and FIFA as well as the Premier League and fans resisted the move. UEFA and FIFA threatened to ban teams from their domestic competitions and players from participating in the World Cup.

Some teams also started to see sponsors withdraw their support. Subsequently, the breakaway teams began to withdraw from the ESL rendering the move by the end of business on Tuesday.

 

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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