Super League v Premier League: now the real war begins

by Tony Attwood

Battle of Stamford Bridge, full.png

It is being reported that the Premier League has demanded that the senior executives from the English clubs involved in initiative should be removed from Premier League committees, having shown themselves untrustworthy by working behind the back of the committee while continuing to attend committee meetings.

In practice this would mean

Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, sitting on the Club Broadcast Advisory Committee.

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, who sits on the audit and remuneration committee

Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham, who is on the Club Strategic Advisory Group

Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano again on the Club Strategic Advisory Group

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner who is on the Club Broadcast Advisory committee

Tottenham Hots are unaffected by this move as they don’t have anyone on any of the committees, perhaps reflecting how the rest of the Premier League see them.

The problem faced by the Premier League and indeed by these individuals is that within the committees there is a constant stream of confidential debate, proposals, recommendations etc.

No one is suggesting that there is direct evidence that any of these guys spilled the beans to the Super League group, but they were clearly, for a while, acting for both sides.  On the one hand handling issues relating to the Premier League while on the other hand discussing issues behind the backs of their fellow members whose clubs were not in on the breakaway plans.

As a result the claim is that rule B15 and/or B16 has been broken.  This says, “In all matters and transactions relating to the league each club shall behave towards each other club and the league with the utmost good faith.”

The last time we came across a breach of B16 was a claim by Cardiff City that Crystal Palace’s sporting director Iain Moody, (who took up a role at Selhurst Park after leaving Cardiff), used his old contacts to find out information relating to their starting XI – an allegation he strenuously denied.

The Premier League ruled Palace breached rule B16 regarding acting in “utmost good faith” to opposition sides.  But the trouble is that breaching rule B16 carries a maximum £25,000 penalty, which is trivial.

The other 14 clubs and the Premier League board deem these executives to have breached two rules, B.16 and L.9.   L9 is the one that clubs can only play in pre-determined competitions which we have noted before.

Of course going after individual directors and senior personnel is not as heavy handed as attacking a club.  The six club’s will probably like this as they will be happy to sacrifice one of their number (perhaps with a decent pay off so he never talks about the events hereafter).  What they don’t want is any comeback from Uefa or the Premier League majority.

But there is more on the horizon.  The TV companies want to reduce the amount they pay for matches, while the Premier League clubs are desperate to get more to cover the massive losses they have made as a result of playing to empty stadia.  These are not easy days.

Further, the 14 clubs who are not part of the rebel group, really want the big boys to be punished heavily, as a way of reducing the imbalance between the big clubs and the rest.

The fact is that in past times, winning the league was not the preserve of a few clubs, and clubs tended to rise and fall dramatically over short spaces of time.  That is why Arsenal’s run in the 1930s was so noticeable in football history.

The year before winning the league for the first time Arsenal came 14th – but that sudden rise was not what amazed pundits.  It was that the club kept up its position at the top for the rest of the decade.  From 1930 to the outbreak of war Arsenal won the league five times and the FA Cup twice, having previously won nothing.

What caused much less comment was the fact that in in 1938 Manchester City were relegated, one year after being crowned champions.  

This idea of six clubs (well, five because you can’t really include Tottenham in this) ruling the top division year after year is new, and that above all else, is what the PL14 want to stop.  They see this as their big opportunity – a chance that won’t come again.

A major part of the push to make Arsenal change its mind over the Super League Fiasco came from the immediate rejection of the scheme by Arsenal Independent Supporters Association.  Please do visit its website, where you can read the latest on the battle against the Super League.


The superleague story – in the order it broke…

4 Replies to “Super League v Premier League: now the real war begins”

  1. Another good article, thanks Tony, again.

    There’s been a massive breach of trust. Not just between the six and the fourteen clubs of the Premiership, but also inside Arsenal between the directors and the managers and players and staff. Then there’s the breach with the community of the club, which is each of us, each of us in the past, our ancestors, our ancestors as kids, each of us as kids with a ball at our feet and a dream in our heart.

    And then there’s the biggest breach of all – with the game of football itself, with the whole point of football, putting the ball in the net. The team that puts the ball in the net more than the other team wins. That’s football.

    To sign up to a league without relegation they signed up to a league without competition and to do that breaches the whole point of football, and when you start thinking of that something stares back at you – those directors negotiating this breach with football, in the moment they had to consider what they were doing and act, they trusted money more than they trusted the community of football.

    No wonder Mr Arteta is concerned.

  2. Tony, lets not get too maudlin about this fiasco. It was a pantomime of disproportionate stupidity and avarice BUT it was the parting shot and a fair warning from these “elite” clubs across Europe that the future of Football will be a concept resembling what they proposed. I sent you an article that outlined the pros and cons of their project that concluded by saying such a European based ” Elite” League could work for the good of Football IF it was created with active input from the fans, all the clubs, the national bodies, FIFA and EUFA and the political boffins across Europe, including the EU. It would be a truly democratic league, but nothing like the “elites” wanted.

  3. Rule B16 is likely to be the only charge against the clubs and I doubt any of them would put up too much fuss as the relevant wording although based on opinion seems to be fair comment

    (c) commit any act (or omission) or make any statement that brings the League, its competition, a Club, a Broadcaster or a party to a Commercial Contract into disrepute.

    However I suspect any charge under the L9 rule won’t stand up to any legal challenge.

    Except with the prior written approval of the Board, during the Season a Club shall not enter or play its senior men’s first team in any competition other than:
    L.9.1. the UEFA Champions League;
    L.9.2. the UEFA Europa League;
    L.9.3. the F.A. Cup;
    L.9.4. the F.A. Community Shield;
    L.9.5. the Football League Cup; or
    L.9.6. competitions sanctioned by the County Association of which it is a

    As was pointed out elsewhere the six in legal terms didn’t enter the competition they signalled their intent to join or play. I can’t believe that those letters of intent didn’t cover the fact that they would only be able to agree to formally take part if the PL agreed to it.

    The big six employ top legal brains at least one of them surely would have flagged up the risk of fully committing until the PL approved.

    Irrespective of all that the rule book refers purely to season 20/21 , it’s re written each season, so focus in on the pre amble to the rule the words “ in the season” are key.

  4. ”Too maudlin about this fiasco?”

    A Times headline reads today, April 23

    ”Super League tried to sacrifice the sacred – rugby already has”

    The Kroenkes spent so many years making a great living out of supermarkets everyone comes wrapped in plastic with a label pinned to their chest.

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