The implosion of the so-called Super League and what it means for Celtic

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The Celtic Star

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The Supa Strikas league and what it means for Celtic…

So the implosion of the so-called Super League is gathering pace. Chelsea and Man City started the mass-withdrawals and we watch on as all the  other English clubs throw in the towel. Ed Woodward has also resigned from Man United, apparently  forced through by the Premier League, who had given the clubs a 48 hour ultimatum and also required Woodward’s head on a plate.

The entire grubby, greedy venture seems farcical. It really speaks volumes that they didn’t seem to understand the rules of football first and foremost. They either didn’t care or didn’t really understand that UEFA could prevent them playing in their competitions and that FIFA could prevent players from playing for their national countries, with back-up from the individual FA’s of each country (who it would seem were all united in making sure this would happened).

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One thought struck home about Chelsea and Man City and that is the ownership model. With Chelsea, they have a billionaire who is perhaps – through longevity – familiar with the fan passions more than the other big clubs in the EPL. The story is they only joined not to be left behind or not included but realise now that it was a massive mistake.

Man City have rich Arabian owners. With the world cup in Qatar, I wonder if they perhaps realised the magnitude of their decision and also decided to withdraw. PSG have Arabian ownership but they perhaps realised this sooner. Bayern Munich are part of a German football ownership model that would do well to be replicated across Europe with much more fan ownership and they definitely felt this was a bad idea.

Much credit must be given to the fans, players, managers and staff of all the big 6 who seem appalled that this was actually going to happen. It is telling that Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal haven’t yet (at time of writing) pulled out but the one thing they all have in common is wealthy American owners who are used to making up rules and implementing them as they see fit. No thought of fans or passion, just returns for board members. (All English clubs have now withdrawn and the Liverpool owners have just issued an apology to their fans).

Think about that for a minute – you are a professional footballer and you have no idea that you are about to be banned from Europe or playing for your country because your private equity owners have decided you will be part of an exclusive league, where losing means nothing – in that you will never be relegated. Not only that but you will play the same teams over and over and over again.

So, all this aside, where does it leave Celtic?

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Ceferin had warm words for us, as did many UEFA delegates. They talked up the romance and passion of Celtic, Ajax, Benfica etc, clubs with a wealth of European history but who have suffered since SKY decided to pay billions to the top 4 leagues (alongside some other broadcasters).

If you cast your mind back to the 80’s, Aberdeen beat Real Madrid to win the Cup Winner’s Cup, Liverpool had several Scots as did most of the top English teams and as for Celtic and Rangers, they regularly competed even beyond the SKY money with both clubs reaching the Europa league final post 2000.

At present, the gulf between the elite clubs and the rest is widening; we are now unable to compete with the likes of Burnley or Southampton in terms of players, clubs that would never be a million miles near us a few decades ago. And make no mistake, as much as Gary Neville and others mean well and genuinely are hurt at their club joining this farce of a league, the rot set in when SKY paid all that money in the first place. The prawn sandwich brigade have been eating out for 2 decades now and often at our expense.

So again, what is the advantage for us as a club? Firstly, we might find ourselves with a little bit more of a bargaining chip now as UEFA belatedly realise that the clubs they mentioned such as us need a bit more from their system of qualification and reward.

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The other aspect is Peter Lawwell. As we know, he has his knees under the table at UEFA for the time being (or at least until he retires – he has NOT indicated that his involvement in football at a European level will end when he resigns as Celtic CEO).

It would be a parting gift as Celtic CEO that might even redeem him to some extent if he used his influence to ensure that Celtic (or for argument’s sake Scottish football) was afforded a better route to European success.

With the new Champions League model unveiled, this is the only time we will ever have a chance to use our voice and try to gain more from what’s on offer. Within a matter of months, we will never have a chance to shout about how much help we should get or how Scottish football might benefit more from a better European qualifying system.

So if Lawwell is thinking about this, the time to act is now. As a club and with fans such as ourselves, the motive is not to simply get as much cash as possible but perhaps to make the whole competition fairer, not just for our league but for the other European leagues that have been neglected for too long. Despite that, I doubt it will happen but it should. Meantime, we have our own focus on rebuilding.

Paul McShane