PH, Béal Feirste
On Sunday night, we saw six Premier League clubs, three Italian clubs, and one Spanish Club announce the formation of this new “Super League” which caused uproar by working class football fans, pundits of Sky Sports, as well as politicians alike. This new elitist league would have seen 16 clubs play in an American-style season with no relegation.
To football fans with a class analysis of the game this came as no surprise. We saw UEFA and Sky Sports up in arms as these super-rich owners of clubs sought to take control of the game in a way that would have seen inequality in football continue to grow even larger. Although these corporations didn’t have the fans at heart, fans of the Premier League have faced the same problems since the 1990s when Sky Sports started televising the Premier League on worldwide TV screens. Since then, local working-class fans have faced the consequences of not being able to afford tickets to a game, being outbid by international fans who could afford the price of tickets as the owners of these clubs kept finding new ways to make profit. Football very much became a TV show and became unaffordable for working-class fans even to watch on their TV screens as Sky Sports, BT Sports, and other corporations fought and bought TV rights to scam working-class fans from even being able to watch football on their TV screens. Clubs that meant so much to their fans, became nothing more than another way to make profit for out of control businessmen.
Sky Sports pundits like Gary Neville complained about the inequality that could’ve resulted from this “Super League”, which would’ve seen the owners of these clubs being handed £3 billion. But the biggest perpetrator of inequality in the “English Game” is Sky Sports, which has seen huge amounts of money being given out to elite Premier League clubs, resulting in these clubs still being able to make a profit even without fans entering the stadium. Such an inequality resulted in historic workers’ clubs like Bury going bust, with many more on the edge of bankruptcy also. This has now put elite clubs in a position where out-of-control business owners feel able to make a decision without worrying about fans rebelling back to be able to gain control of the clubs they love most.
We saw Boris Johnson come out and speak against this “Super League”, which has a club in it which hasn’t won a League title in 60 years. He claims to care about the fans, but make no mistake, football is now an elite business war. The reason why Johnson didn’t want this “Super League” being developed is because of how much money commercialised football brings into the English economy from fans abroad who outbid local fans. Fans are now being used as a bargaining chip by individuals who destroyed the game founded by the working class – for the working class – claiming to have the fans at heart. No matter what Boris says, he’s still part of the problem, as head of a party, whose previous leaders have blamed working-class football fans for “society’s problems” and criminalised working-class football fans.
This “Super League” shows the consequences that out-of-control, deregulated capitalism has on a working-class sport. The news, which had so many football fans up in arms, should be seen in the context of the consequences of capitalism that will commercialise anything in society, even sports. The “Super League” would have only resulted in a corporate competition for the benefit of a minority, if it weren’t for the efforts of working-class fans. Working-class fans who already face the consequences of the root of society’s problems: capitalism.
The story of the “Super League” should be a lesson to any football fan in the 32 counties of Ireland supporting a British or foreign club. Those corporate club owners don’t care about you. Get out and support your local Irish club and get off the barstools and realise football is not just a TV show. You will experience a local connection and passion for your club and local working-class people for affordable prices which won’t see you losing to the highest bidder for tickets. You will see fellow working-class fans as comrades in struggle in one of the most criminalised cultures in society rather than as a competitor to fill seats in your teams stadium.