Graham Keeffe > It has been a tumultuous and unprecedented week in football. Within 48 hours, Europe’s biggest clubs and Spurs rejected and quit the traditional Champions League format. Their owners were to quickly realise that this was to be the single biggest mistake they are ever likely to make. Fans, Pundits and even political figures united under one banner to halt what can only be described as sheer greed. The damage that has been done by the owners of these clubs is certainly irreparable in some cases. It is now evident where the intentions of these already exorbitantly wealthy businesspeople lie and it has set a mood of unease and tension across fanbases.
From a Premier League standpoint it will be interesting to see what, if any, sanctions are imposed. Under Premier League rule L9, “Except with prior written approval of the board…” a club cannot enter its senior men’s first team in any competition outside of those already stipulated in the rulebook. All six teams involved have broken this rule by engaging with the ESL and as such, should be punished. If this sanction were to come in the form of a point deduction then it could prove disastrous for clubs vying for the title and Champions League qualification. Depending on the number of points deducted such a situation could potentially leave West Ham, this season’s overachievers, in a most unusual position.
The Hammers have had a brilliant season and have surpassed even the most optimistic of supporters’ expectations. With this in mind, the potential ramifications of the ESL fallout can be looked at from two viewpoints. On the one hand, the imposition of a point deduction would see West Ham all but guarantee a European finish, most likely in the Champions League places. On the other however, the hard work of the staff, players and all involved with the club would feel tainted. The very ethos of European competition is that it is earned, not given. The players have achieved the current league position of 5th through hard work and consistency over the course of the season. They do not need this influenced by the selfish, greed-fuelled actions of others.
Despite strong statements from football’s governing bodies and the outpouring of resentment from fans towards the ESL, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has stipulated his intent to restructure the concept in order to make it more viable. Perez believes that without the ESL, the biggest clubs will not be able to afford the game’s biggest stars. “As for signings like Haaland or Mbappe, they won’t exist without the Super League.” Perez then stipulated that this did not mean Mbappe would not arrive at Madrid this summer. “Does it mean we won’t sign Mbappe? No, I didn’t say that.” You may be forgiven for being confused by his comments.
All eyes are now focused on the fallout from the past week’s antics. Will owners sell up? Will there be an admission of wrongdoing by all clubs involved? How will the Premier League reprimand the rule-breakers? Despite the ESL being brought to a halt, a slip of tectonic proportion has occurred in the global footballing sphere. A message has been sent to the hierarchy of clubs. It is now time to see whether they truly receive it and respond accordingly.