Fans win battle for football’s soul as truly crazy day with Petr Cech at Chelsea protests and Ed Woodward leaving Manchester United ends with death of European Super League
If you haven’t tuned into the world of football since Monday night, well, you’ll need to sit down for this.
Grab a cuppa and get ready to ride the emotional rollercoaster that was Tuesday 20th April, 2021.
Like something out of a Disney fairytale, good triumphed over evil as football fans triggered the death of the European Super League before it was even born.
It will go down in history as the day when you, the supporters, ultimately won the battle for the sport’s very soul – but that barely covers the half of it.
The Prime Minister himself threatened a ‘legislative bomb’, whatever that means, big Petr Cech had to calm down hundreds of protesting Chelsea fans, and Liverpool players ended up turning on their owners.
Oh, and Ed Woodward decided to quit Manchester United.
Tottenham sacking Jose Mourinho before a Cup final? That was so yesterday’s news.
Take a breath and let’s debrief.
Outrage over European Super League spreads
To understand Tuesday 20 April, 2021 – we must first reiterate how utterly grim the concept of a European Super League is.
The Premier League’s self-proclaimed ‘big six’ – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Man United and Tottenham – had announced plans for a breakaway division where 12 of Europe’s ‘leading clubs’ would compete against each other all the time and never suffer relegation.
In other words, something that removes the beautiful randomness and unpredictability of football (which has Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham currently outside the top four), guaranteeing the rich could get richer regardless of whether or not they earned it on the pitch.
But don’t take it from us, we woke up to James Corden, of all people, ranting about it over in America.
Or take it from Everton owner Farhad Moshiri, who joined talkSPORT on Tuesday morning calling for the Premier League to deduct points from the guilty six.
After protests at Leeds on Monday night, where both Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and midfielder James Milner expressed their disagreement with the plans, there was a growing sense that this story was only just beginning.
The fightback begins
As an issue which transcended football into wider mainstream news, Boris Johnson got involved and threatened to change the country’s legal fabric to stop their plans, which even our politicians could universally agree on.
Then the 14 Premier League clubs who weren’t invited to the banquet held a meeting, ‘unanimously and vigorously’ rejecting the proposal and considering all possible action to stop it from happening.
This was, perhaps, to be expected, but just like any good fairytale, here comes the plot twist: players and staff of the rebel teams started to speak out in numbers.
Man City boss Pep Guardiola joined Klopp in opposition, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson called an emergency meeting among the players, and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford put his superhero cape back on with a critical tweet.
This whole episode showed just what Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly achieved all those years ago, creating for football an unbreakable ethos so that everyone works together and shares the rewards. And it’s all for the fans, regardless of wealth or class.
There was always the chance that all of this was futile – with the evil forces responsible happy to take the insults on the chin, and powerful enough to get their way regardless.
But Chelsea fans weren’t about to let that happen and showed up in their hundreds to protest before the club’s Premier League match with Brighton – which apparently ended 0-0.
Cech, the legendary Blues goalkeeper and now technical director, even had to approach the supporters and tell them to let the team bus enter the ground in dramatic scenes.
It proved to be the moment when the ‘big six’ finally went, ‘Right. Don’t fancy this anymore’.
Then it happened
Suddenly, there were rumours that Chelsea were preparing to pull out. Then Man City actually did pull out. And all 12 clubs were meeting to discuss disbanding the league entirely.
Everyone grabbed a metaphorical bucket of Vindaloo, it was party time. Chelsea fans were filmed cheering in the streets.
That’s enough news for today, off to bed. But no.
Ed Woodward quits Man United
That wasn’t in the script. Good news arrived like London buses for some United fans as their controversial executive vice-chairman decided to quit the role at the end of 2021.
We think that was his plan all along, although others say it was a matter of principle over the Super League. Maybe he was one of the good guys after all?
Well, not according to this Man United-supporting talkSPORT host, who ripped into the outgoing director in a classic rant.
We doubt this will be the last high-profile resignation to happen in the coming weeks.
Let the celebrations begin
At the time of writing, our story looks like it’s finished. All of the Premier League clubs involved have confirmed their intention to pull out and we can’t wait to see how sorry they pretend to be tomorrow.
A major development at the end of the night, which seemed quite minor given all that had gone before it, came when Jordan Henderson led a chorus of Liverpool players turning on their owners.
The squad were united in putting fans first, something owner John Henry failed to do.
Andy Robertson, James Milner and Virgil van Dijk then followed suit, Kevin De Bruyne also came out against it – but City star Aymeric Laporte summed it up best.
“That was quick lol,” he wrote.
The European Super League is over.
And now we really must get some sleep.