The proposals for a European Super League are not surprising and just the latest erosion of the tradition of football.
Six English Premier League sides feature in the current group of 12 teams who want to break away from UEFA’s existing Continental competitions and create their own tournament.
The plan is these 12 teams, plus three others, will be guaranteed to take part in the midweek competition every season, without qualifying, in contrast to the existing Champions League.
Unfortunately, finances mean football has been heading this way for years, with the top league competitions and the Champions League now only realistic prospects for the super-rich clubs.
However, the minute you move to something which is almost an American-style “franchise” system, where it’s a closed shop and you have to be invited to join, you go a step further – and it’s no longer a meritocracy.
What I disagree with about the ESL proposal is fans want their club’s participations in European competition to come off the back of your team winning something or finishing in a certain position in the league the previous season. You should earn the right to take part on the field.
But we shouldn’t be surprised at moves like this – the clubs involved are huge businesses and big businesses are always looking to get bigger.
It’s not a football decision, it’s a business decision, with club’s earning their place based on how much the rights to show their games on TV are worth or how big their global fanbase is – not the supporters who live locally.
We might be sitting in five years’ time saying it was a good idea and benefitted the game, but most people who have been involved in the game think it’s taking away from the history of the sport and diluting its traditions for the benefit of the money men.
Since I played the game, the nature of non-domestic competitions, governed by UEFA, has changed. The European Cup, now Champions League, isn’t just comprised of league winners, while there’s going to be a third competition, the Conference League, from next season.
At international level, the Euros have been expanded from eight nations to 24.
The key difference is these changes have been about inclusion, and allowing smaller clubs with less resources to get into European competition.
The sentiments behind the ESL plan are the opposite of this.