Desperate men killing the game

General View of The Etihad Stadium

General View of The Etihad Stadium. Photo:Dan Weir/PPAUK. - Credit: Dan Weir/PPAUK

It was the former chairman of Manchester City, of all clubs, who put his finger on it. Desperate men, he called them. Or words to that effect. 

David Bernstein should know. He helped to haul City, now owned by Middle Eastern oil money, from League One up to the Premier League before the sheiks moved in. 

It was he who identified the essential flaw at the heart of the so-called European Super League movement. 

The owners involved - it's not the clubs themselves or the supporters or the players - are doing all this out of WEAKNESS, NOT STRENGTH. 

They are desperate men indeed. 

After a year of pandemic pressures, they look at what used to seem like a never-ending flow of TV-related income, fuelling their star-studded squads, and the penny has dropped. That business model is NOT WORKING. 

How many of the English 'big six' clubs who have apparently signed up for the ESL are even guaranteed a place in next year's Champions League - Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool? 

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Every proper supporter in the land, including many fans of the above teams, will probably be cheering on West Ham United and Leicester City over the next few weeks..! 

But, of course, the ESL owners don't regard them as 'supporters'.  Or even as 'stakeholders'. In their eyes, they are simply 'the market'. 

In their world, they can go a long way to control a market, and exploit it for all they are worth. 

They start, shut and move major sports teams round the USA, bolstered by the certainty of knowing that results don't really matter. There is no promotion or relegation. 

What they can't stand is the football world they find themselves in. Where there is one big area they can't control - what happens on the pitch. 

And that's what they are desperate to take out of the equation.