LONDON – Fans opposed it, politicians opposed it and even Prince William called it “the sport we love.”
So sharp and ruthless was the contradiction to the plan to create a new super league for European football that on Wednesday, six of England’s most famous clubs were in a tizzy as they declined Breakaway project failed He pledged to join it.
Still not everyone was defeated. For Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the crisis has presented a rare opportunity to seize the moral high ground on an issue that matters to many voters helping a resounding victory in the 2019 election.
Threatening to use any means he could block the scheme, Mr Johnson positioned himself as a keeper of working-class football fans, whose foresight made England football clubs – and billionaire owners Enemies of which now dominate the English game.
“Boris Johnson is a populist by instinct,” said Anand Menon, a professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King Men College London, that the prime minister saw a political opportunity Sports disaster. The backlash of the Super League scheme was so complete that Mr Johnson’s opposition was a “no-brainer”, he said – the political equivalent of scoring in an open goal.
Professor Menon said, “His only gamble in trying to stop it was that he could lose, but it was hard to see how that could happen.” Once english and International football authority He threatened against Super League clubs and players, his position was untenable, he said.
Others believe, however, that there may be risks down the line, and that in allowing their government to threaten to put everything on the table to prevent the formation of a new league – even football Increasing the possibility of tampering with the ownership of clubs – Sh. Johnson may have raised expectations that could not be met.
Significantly, the government refused to accept suggestions that it could mimic ownership or German regulations that gave de facto control by preventing commercial investors from owning more than 49 percent of the clubs.
However, in the short term, Football crisis Mr. Johnson has helped divert attention from negative headlines over a lobbying scandal focused primarily on his contacts with a predecessor, David Cameron, and an incumbent cabinet minister.
With the emergence of text messages sent to a businessman after he came close to Mr. Johnson on that issue on Wednesday and Brexit The supporter, James Dyson, promised that Mr Dyson’s staff would not have to pay extra tax when they came to Britain to manufacture ventilators in the early stages of the epidemic. Mr. Dyson’s company Announced in 2019 It will move its headquarters to Singapore citing growing demand in Asia.
in recent months, Successful roll out of vaccines Mr. Johnson’s fortunes were revived after a succession of wrong steps against Kovid-19 last year when the government’s handling of the epidemic stumbled.
Football is so prevalent in Britain’s national life that it is still cropped.
In April 2020, Matt Hancock, the Secretary of Health, attacked highly paid football players during the epidemic, saying “to pay and do their part”. But within months the government was ousted by Manchester United and an England star player Marcus Rashford.
Inviting his own poor childhood, Mr. Rashford launched a campaign against child poverty, and eventually forced Mr. Johnson to change the policy on free school meals.
The boot was on the other foot this week as Mr Johnson was able to condemn the Super League plans ahead of Mr Rashford, whose club had initially signed offers.
No expertise was needed to be “horrified” at the prospect of the Super League being “cooked by a small number of clubs.” Mr. Johnson wrote in the Sun newspaper.
“Football clubs hold a unique place in the heart of their communities, in every city and town and at every level of the pyramids, and passionate locals are an unmatched source of pride,” he said.
As a big football fan himself, Mr. Johnson implicated in his belief in the competition as opposed to the plan.
Every year the three worst performing clubs are eliminated from England’s Premier League – its top home level – while the top players qualify to play in European competitions next season. European Super League The proposal would have seen many big football clubs becoming permanent members – something that Mr. Johnson did to form the cartel.
In fact, when England’s first football league was established in 1888, it was on a similar model and its membership was not selected on merit, said Matthew Taylor, a professor of history at the University of Lee Musterfort, Leicester, who played football It is widely written.
Yet the fuss over the European Super League reflects the growing role of football in national life in recent decades.
“In the last 15-20 years it has been very pervasive and so important to British culture – too broadly defined – that politicians have something to say,” Professor Taylor said.
He said it no longer seems strange for leaders and members of the government to “make a statement on issues that were seen as private affairs 40-50 years ago.”
The change first became noticeable under Tony Blair’s premiere, as the growing success of the English Premier League combined with the country’s “cool Britannia” branding gave football a stunning profile.
But it can also be a dangerous area for football leaders. When he once forgot his long-running claim to support Birmingham team Aston Villa, Mr Cameron was heavily mocked and suggested that he preferred an opponent who played in similar colors. is.
Mr. Johnson, who prefers rugby to football, has avoided that fate by declaring his allegiance to any team.
But the suggestion that the government could legislate to control the ownership of clubs seems to conflict with Mr. Johnson’s free-market trend.
However, Saudi Arabia’s plan to buy a British Arabian Premier League club Newcastle United eventually failed, with Mr. Johnson promised the Saudi crown chief, Mohammed bin Salman, that he would investigate a holdup, according to British media reports.
Referring to the European Super League scheme, Professor Menon said “one of the many dishonest things in all of this is that it will allow money to corrupt football”. “Money has already corrupted football. Wealthy clubs get richer. “
The professor said that he believed there would be little change eventually as any substantial intervention would upset the successful operation of the Premier League and upset fans.
But Professor Taylor pointed to Germany as a successful alternative model, and said that in threatening to interfere with the running of football, Mr. Johnson might eventually disappoint some of those who are now appreciating him.
“After such an important and bold statement, I don’t think this discussion will go away now,” Professor Taylor.