Damian Reilly Damian Reilly

How the Super League sabotaged itself

(Photo: Getty)

‘So you’re telling me they’re wetting the bed because we’re suggesting the same teams should compete in a competition in which the same teams always compete?’ It’s not hard to see how the owners of the European Super League clubs, the Americans particularly, might be confused by the splenetic reaction of English football fans to their proposal to update the annual Champions League megabucks jamboree – a tournament that at the sharp end has for decades featured pretty much exclusively the same teams.

Instead of being able to point that out, now the wantaway billionaires must grovel and debase themselves. Liverpool owner John Henry has even released a video not unlike those hostages are sometimes forced to make by terrorists. Staring straight into the camera and wearing a very serious expression – belying not one jot of how hilarious the whole thing is – Henry apologised for both the sins of himself and those he represents. The other clubs have released more or less sorrowful written statements of remorse, but it’s early days yet.

Had the PR been managed half competently, would the opposition to the plan have been so unanimous?

How different it could have been. Had the PR been managed half competently, would the opposition to the plan have been so unanimous? By announcing the move in a collective statement at the furtive-seeming hour of quarter to eleven (UK time) last Sunday night, the Super League plotters failed comprehensively to seize the narrative, instead handing it gift wrapped to Gary Neville and co. – multi-millionaire former players, now broadcasters, never shy of a chance to advertise their ‘men of the people’ credentials.

A well-placed interview with Manchester United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward would surely have been a better place in which to announce the venture – an opportunity to set out properly why the scheme might be advantageous for all clubs, from Real Madrid to Accrington Stanley, and to articulate everything that is wrong with the status quo.

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