Dock points? European ban? Whatever it is rebel clubs cannot be allowed to get off scot-free
After blowing football wide open less than 48 hours ago some of Europe's biggest clubs have began to back track on their proposals. Pete Sharland looks at the shamelessness of these clubs and why they simply cannot be allowed to get away without any sort of punishment for the arrogance and disgrace with which they have acted.
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How could they not? These are not completely stupid people running these football clubs, they had to have known what the reaction to their greed would be? And even if they didn’t, they certainly knew pretty quickly after the announcement.
It was one of the more shameful things to happen within football recently, and there has certainly been some competition in that regard, but this is not something that should be forgotten about as soon as it has imploded.
It was always going to implode. The reaction of the fans, the domestic leagues and the international governing bodies was always going to be such that it would be near impossible to pull out.
Deep down one suspects the clubs knew this, just as they did every time these stories have leaked. Why bother then? Because it is useful to hold a threat over the likes of UEFA when it comes to negotiating prize money distribution, or competition allocations.
But this is where the problem begins. We cannot go back to normal and wait for another 12-18 months before Florentino Perez gets scared that his bank balance is getting dangerously close to just super-rich rather than ultra-rich.
Image credit: Getty Images
No, fans do not deserve that. This should be the line in the sand where fans stand up and demand change. The protest at Stamford Bridge which was one of countless others across the globe, shows that fans have had enough.
Now it is up to politicians and organisations to stand up to these clubs, and put them back into their place. Clubs are supposed to be just that, clubs, a group where local people could be part of a community. The globalisation of football, undeniably a good thing, has sadly given the people who control these clubs the veil they need to enact their pathetic money-grabbing antics in the shadows.
Can we talk about the money for a quick minute? The gall and cheek of these presidents to cry about how the pandemic has impacted their income is one of the most shocking and disgusting aspects of this whole sordid affair. These are multi-million pound organisations, some of whom shamelessly abused the UK government furlough scheme, who have been so poorly run that they cannot think of any other solution than this nonsense. Given the outrage of players, surely most would accept a blanket pay cut of save 5-10% along with other high-paid staff to reduce costs. There’s a sickening amount of money in football anyway, why not take a little bit out of the game? Grassroots is dying in so many countries and people are out of work (or worse) because of the pandemic and they’re worried about losing a few million?
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So now we are having the inevitable face-saving. Chelsea and Manchester City moved first and before too long more began to follow. By the end of the Wednesday you imagine it might be dead in the water and these clubs will come back as if nothing ever happened.
But something did happen. These selfish, ignorant people tried to destroy the game we all love, all for their own personal gain. Enough is enough, something has to be done.
Let’s start with a suggestion from within UEFA; kick them out of the European competitions. Re-instate the teams that they knocked out. That will give them pause for thought. It’s perhaps even worth considering a one-year ban from Europe but the potential financial ramifications for UEFA might not make it worthwhile.
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Should they be docked points in their domestic league? Why not? The sheer arrogance of the teams involved frankly merits it. Yes, it’s harsh on players but ultimately these people need to be held accountable for their actions, the fact that so many of them are jumping ship shows they are desperately trying to avoid just that.
We have to point out the ridiculousness that this topic draws these sorts of discussions whilst racism within football is still punishable by nothing more than a slap of wrists. Sadly, it is the world we live in. As has been talked about a lot, sport has plenty to do in regard to racism. More diversity in the boardroom is a great place to start and this is a great, if horribly overdue, time ti start.
Yet we must punish these circumstances. We are fighting for the very essence of football here. These people think they can bully everyone else and do what they like. They think that they hold the power and can do whatever they want.
When this plan disintegrates then that is the first step in taking back some of the power, but it cannot stop there. There needs to be a more level playing field in Europe, not closed shops that protect the bigger clubs, there needs to be a more equal distribution of prize money to encourage competition. Perhaps there needs to be discussion about a serious form of FFP that stops these exorbitant fees involved in the game.
Perhaps it is a more local thing. Perhaps fans might start questioning their allegiances. Those who crave nothing but glory will always support big clubs, that will never change. Yet for some, where things such as morals are important, perhaps it is time to consider pledging more support to smaller clubs, even those within the top division.
Of course, as many will point out, modern football has sucked a lot of the soul out of the game already, UEFA and FIFA are complicit in this but there is still life yet.
So whilst Chelsea fans celebrated the news filtering through to them outside Stamford Bridge it’s important not to forget how these people were ready to sell those supporters out across Europe. Not just supporters, players and coaching staff have clearly been kept out the loop.
Chelsea fans protest outside Stamford Bridge April 202, 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
The ramifications need to be felt for some time after this. Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward has reportedly resigned following the backlash, although he was already planning to step down this summer regardless.
Withdrawing and resigning are not noble gestures, this is nothing more than face-saving after a catastrophic miscalculation.
This has to be the start of real change within football. No club is above sanction. These people have been allowed to carry on unchecked for far too long. This has to stop, now.