European Super League: NI fans say English clubs ‘selling their souls’
Northern Ireland based fans of the top English Premier League sides have put on a united front in opposition to the creation of the new European Super League (ESL).
Representatives of both Manchester United and Arsenal supporters’ clubs have branded the proposal a money-grabbing scheme, with one fans saying his club has “sold its soul” by agreeing to sign up.
Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham are the other four English teams backing the new competition which would also involve giants of European football, including Real Madrid, Barcelona and AC Milan.
If established, the ESL would operate as a midweek competition with the clubs continuing to compete in their national leagues.
John White of the 400-strong Carryduff Manchester United Supporters’ Club said early indications are that many of his club’s member will not attend any of the ESL matches.
“We have 60 season tickets at Carryduff so what are we renewing them for? Are we renewing them to see 19 Premier League games, plus European football, plus League Cup, plus FA Cup? Because if we go into this new European Super League, the FA is going to dump them out of the [English] league, quite rightly – they won’t be allowed in any of the domestic cups, that’s all gone, so are we just paying to see a league there is no relegation from?
“And will this now skyrocket the price to see games? It might price fans out of it,” he said.
Mr White added: “If you look at the Gary Neville interview he used quite strong and emotional words.
“He said he as been a fan for 40 years and that these guys are basically ripping clubs off – he said it’s just a money thing.”
The lifelong Red Devils fan said the club’s roots are in the working class community of Manchester, and that that humble beginning should not be tarnished by chasing more millions at the expense of the supporters.
He said: “Manchester United was formed in 1878 but hard-working railway workers from Newton Heath railway. Their fans... built the canals and the railways, and built the motorways around Manchester... are working class people.
“Man United might be first of second richest club in the work right now, but they were born out of poverty. They went bankrupt in 1902 and had to form a new club, and it was the fans that stuck by them.
“I’m hearing that a lot of United fans might not attend these games.”
Alastair Kerr of the North Down Arsenal Supporters’ Club said the club he loves has “sold its soul” to boost its bank balance.
“I can quite categorically say that, on social media and our own fans in our own club, I haven’t seen any supporters of Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool or anyone else in support of it.
“Most of think the club has sold its soul,” he said.
“The days of the rich local businessman – who is a fan who invested in his home club – are now unfortunately well gone.
“It’s now the likes of people from the Far East or America investing in the football clubs and their only interest is money – it’s not the supporters.
“Not only Arsenal but a lot of clubs.”
Mr Kerr said the only way the fans can effectively show their displeasure is not to pay any additional subscriptions to broadcasters to watch the ESL.
On Twitter, the Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma said: “Dear @williamcrawley and @BBCTalkback as an Arsenal supporter I am feeling deeply disappointed and ashamed of the team that I have loved for half a century. It smacks of elitism.”