Connor Southwell: City a shining light in a game awash with greed
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The proposals for a European Super League shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody.
For years, the biggest clubs, in terms of income and finance, have desperately been seeking a way to wrestle control from the football authorities in a bid to extend their wealth.
The aim is to construct an omnipotent franchise league. One that can be commercialised and sold across the globe. This is a football mutiny being led by the elite.
It disregards competition. It damages reputations. It makes a mockery of years of prestige and history of the individual clubs involved.
Football fans can be among the pettiest, most tribal and confrontational people around, but that stems from a passion and an adoration for their club. These plans have united them all. That is a meteoric feat that should not be ignored.
The Super League is a cartel to rob their competitors from accessing TV and sponsorship money. It is destroying the link being reward and success. It is spitting in the face of those clubs who have dared to challenge the status quo.
This is a franchise league. There will be no competition. These owners don't care about their respective clubs beyond the size of their bank balance. To hell with the rest of us.
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Liverpool sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before matches, yet they are pulling up the ladder and removing themselves away from the people in order to chase the cash. The elitism is leaving a hideous stench throughout the game.
It must be rooted out. There must be punishments dealt out. Football has to show some guts and stand up to these proposals.
Football is a game created by the working class and it's being exploited and sold by the rich.
That is why these proposals have come during a pandemic. Whilst National League clubs are furloughing players and League One and Two clubs sit on the brink, the elite few have been sat on Zoom calls plotting their death warrant in a bid to make themselves richer.
And why? Because they want to make their pie, cook it and eat it. The problem is, those clubs will continue the infighting. Continue the battle for bigger portions even if this gets created. Wealth is an itch that can never be completely scratched.
That is why all Norwich City supporters must be incredibly grateful for the structure and ownership model they have in place currently.
At Manchester United, the owner and co-chairman Joel Glazer has given one interview in his 16-year reign at the club to in-house media. They are faceless. It's the quiet owners that are prepared to overhaul football because they have no emotional connection to the competitions or the clubs.
This is a 'European Super League' and yet the statement suggests it will be global. These matches will be sold to the highest bidder. They will be played in the richest countries. Football is being snatched away from the grassroots.
And yet at Norwich, that sense of community has never felt greater.
Instead of quiet Zoom calls, Delia Smith comes and thanks fans after a promotion. Instead of greed, City have established a revamped training ground and invested £500k into building the Nest.
Will it win them titles? No. Is there a natural ceiling? Yes. But sometimes titles bring disillusion. Football is about so much more.
City don't get everything right and it would be disingenuous to argue otherwise.
But surely this is preferable to seeing the soul ripped out of your club and replaced with a core of greed and a race to the bottom chasing the cash.
Throughout this weekend, as the Canaries have been celebrating their return to the top table of English football, other clubs have been throwing the term 'yo-yo club' about and suggesting their promotion is futile due to their lack of spending power.
But that is why the top-flight needs a club like City to succeed. If this is the 'best league in the world', then it needs a diversity of thought. It needs clubs swimming against the tide to change the narrative, to prove that spending money isn't the only route to success.
In Delia and Michael, City have owners who are accountable. They care. City already have the German model adopted. The club is owned by fans. It does want what is best for them.
As fans returned to Carrow Road before Christmas, the owners were there to greet them. As the game kicked off, City had numerous academy graduates playing for a self-sustainable club in a ground that is owned by them.
They train at a local place that employs largely local people. They all commit to local work and have a presence through the Community Sports Foundation who will help thousands more with their new facility.
The alternative may elevate Norwich to great success. It may mean higher league finishes and bigger transfer fees but would supporters exchange that for the soul of and their connection to the club they love? That becomes difficult to expect.
There are flaws to City's model. That is acknowledged by people internally and externally, but given the joy of promotions and winning at Wembley in 2015, why would anyone swap that for seven years of top-flight mediocrity where you're a hostage to the demands of the 'Big Six'?
Say City do get taken over. They do win a European spot. Under the current plans, a fourth-place finish would mean very little. If they finished above Arsenal, the Gunners would still be omnipotent in a Super League that cares little for hard work.
That isn't football. The sport is supposed to make you feel something.
Right now, it's hard to feel anything but absolute disdain, embarrassment and disappointment. The 'Beautiful Game' has never looked so ugly.
Every football supporter had that moment where they fell in love, be it when they were clutching the hand of their parents and managed to catch their first glimpse of the turf or replicating the goals of your idol in the school playground.
That romanticism is why fans have continued to pay ludicrous prices or buy the latest replica shirt. Their love is being exploited.
It's time for a re-think. Football must stand up. Clubs like Norwich, who are operating in a self-sustainable manner, must be championed as the future of the game is discussed.
Strip it all back and what is a football club? It's not about turnover, or revenue but the people. Those supporters who wear the colours with pride because they can attach themselves to the community.
They are the heartbeat of football. They must be fought for.