Johnny Nicholson: Super League six can’t just try and ruin the game without penalty

When someone has been unfaithful, is a divorce ultimately inevitable? Can the wounded party forgive and forget?
Johnny Nicholson: Super League six can’t just try and ruin the game without penalty

Fans protest against Chelsea's involvement in the new European Super League outside Stamford Bridge, London. Picture: PA

Well that was a mad couple of days, wasn’t it?

And now we’re back where we all started. Or are we?

When someone has been unfaithful, is a divorce ultimately inevitable? Can the wounded party forgive and forget? The six clubs can issue mea culpas as much as they want but they were caught having an overseas affair. Can anything ever be the same again? As fans we should ensure that no, it cannot. Because a return to the status quo is not a return to a good place at all.

If those six are allowed to, from today onwards, return and conduct their business as though this never happened, without any degree of punishment or admonishment, then it is an active encouragement to try again, any time they want.

You can’t just try and ruin the game without penalty. The only penalty worth anything — because money is worthless to these people, they have so much of it — is points deductions and relegations, preferably out of the league. Seriously. If you’ve tried to blow the house up, you can’t be trusted to keep living in the house while still holding a box of matches.

Sadly, that’s unlikely to happen.

They may have gone back into the cave to lick their wounds, saying all the right words to fans, but are fans so gullible as to believe these duplicitous greedy bastards? You would hope not.

However, history suggests many will take them back because they’ve promised not to do it again…at least until the next time.

To state the obvious, they are the same people in the boardrooms. They have not changed. They still talk in that weasely middle-management way about ‘legacy’ fans. They still think this was a good idea. So they need beating very hard with a very big stick to stop them entertaining such notions again, or preferably, defenestrating altogether.

In the celebrations following the overturning of the Super League we should not pretend to ourselves that everything is now fine. The financial hegemony of the Premier League, which drips its toxic waste right down the pyramid, is still intact. The richest six might not currently occupy the top six places, but history suggests more times than not, they will, unless Jose Mourinho or Mikel Arteta is in charge of one of them, of course.

There is still a money block in place. Still everyone is playing for seventh. Don’t believe the recent dewy-eyed nonsense from British Sports Minister Oliver Dowden which painted the Premier League as some open meritocracy. He’s just a here today gone tomorrow politician with all the substance of a badly-washed glove puppet.

Don’t believe anything Boris Johnson says: He’s a liar.

The revamped 36-team single league version of the Champions League that Uefa — fresh from dishonestly painting itself as the vestigial virgin in this debacle — is an absolute chronic mess, adding 100 extra games and meaning that you’ll need to play 17 not 13 games to win it.

Why? Money. Yes, that old thing. That’s been sneaked through without comment, whereas previously, there was outrage about it.

English football needs serious reform from the top down. We’ve seen in recent days how German clubs resisted this siren call of a Super League. Their 50% +1 system guarantees they can’t just do what they want on their whims of an oligarch owner. We have to look towards that as a system to adopt in England.

The trouble is, culturally we’re rather wedded to the sugar daddy model and always have been, going back to Victorian days. We’re good at moaning about owners, not so keen on doing anything ourselves instead.

It will take governmental legislation to oust these overseas billionaire owners and given the government is basically staffed by intellectual lightweights and liars, most of whom talk about football in the way a High Court judge might talk about heavy metal music, that seems unlikely to happen.

You’ll need a few billion to buy the clubs from them and if you’ve got that sort of cash, you’re likely to be just as unfit and improper a person.

Hopefully, this will knock some sense into the blindly loyal fans who used to defend everything their club did, dishing out punishment beatings to naysayers on social media. They, perhaps above all others, have been shown to have been backing the wrong side. To see them twisting and turning even now, to try and excuse the owners or forgive them, is rather stomach-turning.

If you had any faith in these jokers — and many didn’t — it should all evaporate now.

These are a malign presence and are not wanted. You can’t go from calling for them to be ”booted out of the league” as Gary Neville did, to accepting their presence just because they issue a terse “sorry, we won’t do it again” notice.

There needs to be something substantial to come out of this. A limit to the power of money. A wage cap, a transfer fee cap, the abolition of the parachute payments system, the abolition, at least, of the new Champions League format, and preferably the whole of the Champions League — a league with almost no champions in — to be replaced by a proper cup competition between actual champions.

The last 48 hours are just a battle, not the war.

We have won this fight but the war carries on.

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