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Florentino Pérez’s absurd attempt to justify the €uropean $uper £eague

Barry Glendenning
·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Tim Goode/PA</span>
Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

A CHANGE OF MOOD?

Two days after the announcement and now the initial rage has subsided, people are finally starting to see the potential positives of a $uper £eague. Glamorous away trips! To Mumbai! To Tokyo! To Stan Kroenke’s new Enorm-o-Dome in LA! For Tottenham v Inter! In a dead rubber brought to you live by TikHouse Premium! With highlights of the second quarter brought to you on the Gazprom Jumbotron courtesy of Instachat and Zoomparty after the Euro-Con half-time show!!! What’s not to love?

OK, so maybe it will take a little longer for folk to see the positives, even if Real Madrid president and people’s champion Florentino Pérez has been trying to help us all see the light. “We are doing this to save football at this critical moment,” he honked, in an attempt to shine a light on the hitherto unremarked-upon benevolence and magnanimity of those billionaire vulture-capitalists whose not-at-all self-serving motives have apparently been misunderstood. “Young people are no longer interested in football. They have other platforms on which to distract themselves. We could get back some of the money we lost because of the pandemic. We have to raise more money organising more competitive games.”

Related: The ESL would destroy football as we know it – it’s almost as if they don’t care | David Baddiel

While Pérez may have a point, it could be argued that many young people are no longer interested in football because they have been priced out of attending games or watching them on television by gluttonous, cash-crazed money sponges like … well, Pérez. Quite what dividing games into quarters, moving them around the world and sticking them behind an even more expensive paywall will do to help pique the interest of young Madridistas is open to debate. One of very few of the men behind the $uper £eague to stick his head above the parapet since Sunday’s big announcement, Pérez’s quite frankly absurd attempt to justify their attempt to ride a FaceSpace-branded coach and horses roughshod across over a century of tradition and something resembling sporting integrity perhaps explains why the rest of those responsible have remained resolutely tight-lipped. Instead they have chosen to shove assorted managers into the hail of bullets.

While Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Thomas Tuchel were relatively reluctant to bite the hand that feeds, their opposite number at Manchester City didn’t hold back. “Sport is not a sport when the relation between the effort and reward don’t exist,” declared Pep Guardiola. “It’s not a sport when it doesn’t matter if you lose. It’s not fair if teams fight at the top and cannot qualify.” The heartwarming sound, there, of a man who knows his employers need him far more than he needs them and quite literally has not a single eff left to give.

As anodyne as they can be on the pitch, the Everton hierarchy released a commendably coruscating statement, as they looked down on their counterparts from the moral high ground on their side of Stanley Park, while West Ham have since followed suit. And after a meeting of the Other 14 Clubs, the Premier League has now piped up to strenuously harrumph in the face of the Dirty Half-Dozen’s proposals. “The 14 clubs at the meeting unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition,” it announced. “The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing. The League will continue to work with key stakeholders including fan groups, government, Uefa, the FA, EFL, PFA and LMA to protect the best interests of the game and call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.” Having set the wheels in motion for this sad monstrosity upon its foundation, the Premier League now finds itself frantically trying to apply the brakes.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Simon Burnton from 8pm BST for hot Premier League MBM coverage of Chelsea 1-2 Brighton.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I’m appalled and embarrassed. When you talk about Liverpool Football Club and its history and its roots, you could reference seven, eight or nine of grandad’s quotes which are all appropriate to the current situation – socialism, greed and the Holy Trinity – but I also think about one of the less well known comments. It’s from his book, when he spoke about wanting to bring the football club closer to the fans and the fans closer to the football club. And he achieved that. It’s not an understatement to say he would be spinning in his grave at the current situation because it couldn’t be further removed from his ethos. Given the chance I’d happily see the statue removed” – Bill Shankly’s grandson, Chris Carline, has his say.

The bronze statue of Bill Shankly stands outside of The Kop at Anfield.
The bronze statue of Bill Shankly stands outside of The Kop at Anfield. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Football Weekly? Football Weekly!

RECOMMENDED LOOKING

David Squires on … well, you can probably guess.

FIVER LETTERS

“Re: yesterday’s Fiver. I know that we expect a bare minimum of effort in our daily tea-time missive but missing out on the opportunity to go full-on ‘€uropean $uper £eague’ is a new low” – Chris Beck (and 1,056 other$).

“As news broke about the €uropean $uper £eague, I was stunned by the blatant plagiarism of the Danish Superliga. I suppose the anthem for the new league will be this banger from Danish band Nephew. Does it also mean that the Danish champions will be invited to join as honorary guests?” – Lars Esbjerg.

“The sporting world saw fit to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing by observing a minute’s silence before events and avoiding clashes with the funeral. Those luminaries over at the €$£ have gone one better though, establishing an altogether superior class of footballing family who will consort exclusively with each other and receive loads of undeserved cash every year, leaving the plebs to seethe with resentment while nevertheless maintaining a morbid fascination with the whole charade. You have to say, as a royal tribute it’s next level” – Matt Fox.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Matt Fox.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Chelsea and Manchester City, in a strange mood shift from their gleeful sharing of that joint statement at bedtime on Sunday, are understood to actually be wavering a bit.

Boris Johnson’s back on the sport pages, threatening to use a “legislative bomb” to stop all this madness. Of course he is.

Bayern Munich aren’t having any of this €$£ nonsense. “Our members and fans reject the $uper £eague,” sniffed club president Herbert Hainer. “It is our wish as Bayern and our aim that European clubs live this wonderfully emotional competition – [Big Cup] and develop it together with Uefa.”

ICYMI, some lads actually kicked a ball around for a bit, with Leeds stopping Liverpool getting into the top four, a hark back to a bygone era when that was a thing.

And to replace Portuguese man-shaped cloud José Mourinho, Spurs now want someone who likes the ball in the other team’s half. Sounds like his predecessor.

STILL WANT MORE?

Supporters of the rich six can now see the price we’ve paid for success, can-kicks Manchester City fan Simon Hattenstone.

This outbreak of ruthless self-seeking greed is a sad self-inflicted crisis after the cooperation during the pandemic, sighs Proper Journalist David Conn.

Given the names attached to the forthcoming closed shop, the most successful women’s teams may end up excluded from any parallel competition, warns Suzanne Wrack.

Shameful! Theft! Greed! Taller Masts To Get Countryside Connected! … what the papers say about current affair(s).

“Betrayed”, “Cold and cynical”, “I think it’s a great idea” … mixed pullquote potential for Super League Inc to consider for their posters in this roundup of reaction from Big Website readers.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

OH, DO READ BARNEY TOO