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Opinion

And Newcastle United fans thought all they had to worry about was Mike Ashley

1 week ago
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Just when you thought football couldn’t get any worse…

Alarming news leaked out on Sunday with reports that the Premier League “Big Six”, led by Manchester United and Liverpool, want to initiate a reform of English football.

I’m always suspicious of the word “reform”, as there is usually an agenda behind such a move, as seems to be the case here.

Such changes will include reducing the Premier League to 18 teams and also the scrapping of the English Football League Cup and Community Shield.

Looking at the reduction of the 20 Premier League teams to 18, the BBC Sport website says the following-

“In order to get down from 20 to 18, it is anticipated four clubs would be relegated directly, with two promoted from the Championship. In addition, there would be play-offs involving the team to finish 16th in the Premier League and those in third, fourth and fifth in the second tier.”

You often stand in disbelief at what you hear sometimes. How is that even remotely fair? So the team that finishes 16th and possibly well clear of the drop will still have to prove themselves, against a team that wasn’t good enough to even achieve automatic promotion from the league below? Is this really what the powers that be suggest as a credible and fair plan going forward?

If anyone is still in any doubt over the clique element that exists at the Premier League then this blows that completely out of the water. Then when you read on it gets worse.

“It is also planned that, as well as the ‘big six’, ever-present league members Everton, West Ham United and Southampton – ninth and 11th respectively in the list of clubs who have featured in the most Premier League seasons – would be granted special status.” – BBC Sport

Oooh, that makes it sound so much fairer and not in the least bit shady. What does this “Special status” get you?

Immunity from relegation? More money? It beggars belief that these are proposals that are actually seriously being considered, let alone that some of the clubs like Newcastle United could agree with them. It makes the Mike Ashley aim of staying in the league that much harder as a consequence.

And what of the EFL Cup? The one realistic chance that Newcastle United and not to mention the lower league teams (of which this is all allegedly designed to help) have of winning a trophy will be gone. A closed shop is all this is. Don’t believe for a minute that the people who have devised all this have the lower league clubs best interests at heart. They are simply looking after themselves.

Unfortunately it gets more sinister I’m afraid.

“The idea (behind all this) is to address long-standing EFL concerns about the huge gap in funding between its divisions and the Premier League by handing over 25% of the annual income.

There would be a £250m up front payment to address the existing crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the Football Association would receive what is being described as a £100m “gift”.”

Sorry, who sees the £100m “gift” and immediately thinks “bribe?”

This stinks of the top clubs in the Premier League pulling up the drawbridge and telling all the other clubs to get stuffed. Not content with blocking the proposed takeover of Newcastle United last summer, some Premier League clubs now want even more control over who wins what and who gets the most money and the two things go hand in hand.

And who came up with these plans? Once again BBC Sport say that Liverpool owners The Fenway Sports Group came forward first with such ideas and they were then tinkered with by Manchester United Chairman Joel Glazer. So the Yanks basically. Why does that not surprise me.

It is suggested that Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City (the rest of the big six) will back such moves and that they could be in place as early as 2022/23 season. Incredible!

Over recent years there has been many changes that have resulted in this so called sport deviating well away from what it used to be and many things that I completely disagree with. It started with players being paid £100k a week and upwards, spiralling transfer fees, constant rule changes, meddling TV companies and more recently VAR have all contributed to ruin the game as a spectacle.

But I never thought that clubs would vote outright to make the Premier League such a cartel (Read more about the Liverpool and Man Utd plan HERE). Sky Sports have also reported that the change in power distribution would see an end to the “One club, one vote system” that is currently in place. This is corruption of the highest order.

“Cartel” (Merriam Webster)
: a combination of independent commercial or industrial enterprises designed to limit competition or fix prices

Football as a sport has long gone. A relative of mine told me many years ago that football is no longer a sport, it’s a business. He’s no longer with us but it would be interesting to get his take on where the “game” has gone in the intervening two decades since he said that to me. It certainly hasn’t got any better but at least back then there was an element of fairness and entertainment about it.

We can argue all day about the limitations of Steve Bruce and the spitefulness and self-serving nature of Mike Ashley.

However, if the game itself we are competing in is a dishonest and corrupted entity, then I’m no doubt not alone in thinking that this all simply reinforces the growing feeling that this sport is no longer for me and it’ll be best to leave them to it…

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