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We are all complicit
Talking about football and the European Super League
I'm writing this not long after the apparent collapse of the European Super League.
As a fan of Nottingham Forest Football Club (check out my podcast if you've not heard it already), the proposal disgusted me. Not because of the greed and money involved, but because it took out some of the beauty of the sport.
Promotion and Relegation are central to why football is great.
Forest dropped into the third division and were humiliated by Yeovil in the playoffs. That experience will live with me for as long as I live - and it's just as important as finishing above Liverpool in the Premier League in the 90s or watching Radi Majewski defeating Derby County a decade ago. For all the highs, you carry many more lows. That's why it works.
So to build a format where relegation isn't an issue removes the essential heart of why we watch football. But then on top of that, they tell us that the new format isn't for us. There's this huge TV audience who don't have those ties, that aren't looking for that rollercoaster. But the rollercoaster is what it's all about. Forest were founded in 1865; by some estimates the oldest league club in the world. That's a lot of history to throw away when chasing dollars from a TV audience around the world.
But ultimately, there are few football fans who aren't complicit in this.
If you support AFC United (the breakaway club that protested the Glazers takeover of Manchester United), if you support AFC Wimbledon (the original fans left behind when Wimbledon moved to a whole new city to become MK Dons), if you are a member of the Portsmouth Supporters' Trust (who are part owners of the club and govern it in the fans' interests) then you're exempt.
But the rest of us are happy when the rich owners come in. We demand bigger and better transfers, immediate action to fix the problems on the pitch, the hunger for success at any cost. Forest are owned by a "legitimate businessman" who shrugs off the rumours of corruption, drug-smuggling and murder that surround him and his associates. And we welcome him, because he knows how to build a community feel around a football club - and more importantly, he has big bags of (definitely not drug-tainted) cash.
So celebrate the victory. But remember, football is broken and we are all complicit.