Since moving to Germany four years ago, I have wrestled with the morality of Chelsea’s rise to the top. It is ironic that I both admire the Bundesliga’s 50+1 rule and the role of the fans in the German footballing society while also supporting a club that has longed since moved away from involving its supporters in any of its business
I’ve supported Chelsea for as long as I’ve been in love with the Beautiful Game – before Roman Abramovich came in and revolutionised not only the club, but also football in England and across Europe. Without his money, we would never have been able to even compete for the large majority of the trophies we have won. We might not even exist as a club at all given the financial difficulties we were in at the time of purchase.
However, the Blues are my team, and that is something close to impossible to change. On Sunday, though, the announcement of a European Super League made me think the unthinkable – if my team go through with plans to compete in this competition, I feel I will find myself with no other option but to turn my back.
Money in football has always been a subject of debate. Even in the 1950s and 1960s, players in England were pushing for the salary cap to be abolished, while players in Germany engaged in secret deals to earn more as amateurs.
Having said that, the notion of a Super League is more than a step too far. Football is arguably the greatest sport in the world because anybody really can beat anybody. “Fairytale” stories such as Leicester City’s Premier League win give many hope that anything is possible. That success earned them a place in the Champions League, something they fully deserved.
These 12 clubs are attempting to stop that, and it is an abomination. With total disregard for their supporters, they want to set up a closed shop of greed and gluttony. The backlash has been overwhelming – this is not a venture with many backers outside the dirty dozen. Given their lack of conversation and transparency, though, that is unlikely to be something they will be aware of. Personally, I feel betrayed, exploited, and made a mockery of by the wealthy, ignorant few, who have no interest in the well-being of the game at all.
The project is a spit in the face of fans across Europe, including those of these 12 sides. Their disdain for the game knows no bounds, and they are so far out of touch with the average supporter. They have wrestled the game away from us, and even if these plans eventual fall and burn, they are unlikely to ever be forgiven.
It is the supporters who really are the biggest losers. UEFA and FIFA may have moved quickly to express their outrage, but the former’s Champions League reforms and the latter’s desire to send the World Cup to Qatar despite their despicable human rights record.
The Bundesliga, as it often has done in other hot topics, has stood out in its Super League stance. The DFL, as a whole, has lamented the scheme, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund both stating their intention to decline any invitation to join.
This makes me proud to be a follower of German football. The Premier League, although marketed as the best in the world, lost its soul long ago. Fans in the Bundesliga and the German lower divisions, though, have always made their voices heard, often to great effect – the abolition of Monday night matches in the top flight, for example, was a direct result of protests across the country.
The 50+1 rule means the fans, quite frankly, matter. Something which the Super League founders appear to have long since forgotten. While I am struggling to identify with my club at the moment, I can only thank the Bundesliga for its commitment to its supporters. The best league in the world just got better.