Iwan Roberts: ESL plans 'made my blood boil'

Liverpool's Anfield Stadium during European Super League plans

A banner outside Liverpool's Anfield Stadium after the collapse of English involvement in the proposed European Super League - Credit: AP

Wow! What a week it has been in the footballing world, the likes of which we’ve not witnessed for a very long time. 

Firstly, on Saturday afternoon, Norwich City were promoted back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. 

And then on Sunday came the explosive news that six Premier League clubs had formed a breakaway group to join a new European Super League (ESL) - news that was soon followed by the sacking of Jose Mourinho at Spurs. 

I was livid on Sunday night when news broke that both Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal (yes you’ve read that correctly, somehow Spurs and Arsenal squirmed their way in) had signed up for the ESL.

The talk about “the big six” in English football has been non stop and it has made my blood boil if I’m honest. Granted, Liverpool and United are the most successful teams England’s ever seen. However, Liverpool have won the Premier League just once since it began in 1992. Since Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford nearly eight years ago their fall from grace has been alarming. 

Arsenal at the minute are a mid-table shambles with no identity or direction. I bet they couldn’t believe their luck when they were asked to be a part of a super league as they’ve been nowhere near “super” since Arsene Wenger was hounded out, and not won the league since 2004. Oh, and when was the last time they won the Champions League? They’re still waiting, and that won’t be ending anytime soon. 

Manchester City are one of the wealthiest clubs in the world, but does that make them a big club? 

In all fairness, since Sheikh Mansour bought the club back in 2008 and spent over a cool £1bn on assembling a mouth-watering squad, they’ve won the Premier League four times.

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Nonetheless, before the money came flooding in they hadn’t won the English top flight for 53 years, and up until this year have never been that close to winning the Champions League. I played in the Championship for 15 seasons and the only other team I scored more against were West Brom. Did they deserve to be in European football’s elite competition? 

Chelsea fans protest outside Stamford Bridge

Chelsea fans protest outside Stamford Bridge - Credit: AP

Chelsea have won the Premier League four times, mainly thanks to Roman’s money. Would they have done that without the Russian's help? I doubt it very much, as they were similar to Manchester City in my first few years as a professional, yo-yoing between the old First and Second Divisions until Abramovich ploughed in his cash in 2003. 

Spurs have a magnificent stadium that somehow qualified them for a guaranteed spot in the ESL. Their last trophy was the League Cup back in 2008. They last won the league in the 1960-61 season, but they are a super power of European football? Do me a favour. 

I was delighted that the German clubs, who are 51pc fan-owned, didn’t give this ESL the time of day, and big respect to PSG for saying thanks, but no thanks. Ajax, who’ve won the Champions League/European Cup as many times as both Manchester clubs and all three London clubs added together, weren’t even invited. 

The owners of these clubs must take all the blame, and if it was down to me they would be forced to sell up and ship out, especially those at the helm of Liverpool, United and Arsenal as reports seem to suggest they were the main instigators from the English sides. 

I can’t believe they were naive and arrogant enough to think that they could get away with it, that us football fans would just take it on the chin and accept their greedy intentions. 

It’s true to say the whole footballing family came together and fought these individuals who thought they could rip the heart out of the history and traditions of well over a century in English football.

Sorry, not this time, and hopefully some sort of legislation will be formed to prevent anything along these lines happening again.


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