Sanction offered out to Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea et al is a slap in the face for fans of Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United and others
A cynical money-grabbing move that would have torn at the very fabric of football has resulted in a wagged finger and a slap on the wrist. To borrow a fittingly European term; quelle surprise.
The self-appointed ‘big six’ – they not of the best six football sides in the country, but of the six greediest, best capitalists – have been fined £22m, roughly the cost of a substitute right-back.
Each? Behave yourself. The six sides will share that cost, which will be distributed like cups of gruel to the proletariat in the lower leagues.
They were each also fined £1.5m by UEFA last month, whilst forfeiting five per cent of the revenues they would have received for UEFA club competitions, a sum that would top out at anywhere between £3.5m and £5.5m. To these club owners it is pocket change and no punishment at all.
You can almost hear the lighters bursting into flame, singeing the end of fat cigars in the boardrooms of those mega stadiums. The punishment does not fit the crime and like in many walks of life, the powerful that committed the wrongdoing, ultimately, knew they’d get away with it.
The European Super League and all it stood for would not have been stopped were it not for the Sky-led football media machine – and it’s front man Gary Neville – making such a noise.
There’s a strong chance that without that chest-beating, protests would not have been as impassioned, that public perception may have been so strong, that even this Government would have baulked at the coldest, most capitalist coup ever attempted in this glorious global obsession.
The suspicion is that the only thing they regret is not having got Sky involved in the first place.
For Sheffield Wednesday fans what rankles hardest from this faraway swindle, though, is that the hypocrisy that came with the defence of those clubs against pie-in-the-sky points deductions because ‘the supporters didn’t want it’.
The six will only see a points deduction offered – to the tune of 30 – for participation in any future Super League product.
Wednesday were relegated for less than the six points they were stripped of last season because of financial misconduct set about by a flagrant disregard for financial rules and an inability to cover their tracks afterwards. Not one fan ‘asked for that’.
See also Leeds United fans, Wigan Athletic fans, Bolton Wanderers fans, Coventry City fans, Luton Town fans; those of Plymouth Argyle, Darlington and Port Vale.
Derby County may well be next. Where is the chest-beating for them?
Sure, the process is different and these have been imposed by different governing bodies.
But to see the more powerful skip away from such a vile act of football treachery with little more than the stripping of pocket money and a mark on their knuckles is another example of the balance of power in big business in 2021. The notion of punishment, for them, does not apply.
Those operating beneath will continue in their quest for survival and eat their gruel. The gap is widening.