If Harry Maguire has Joel Glazer’s number this would be a good time to give him a call and tell him where he can stick his European Super League.
The Manchester United captain knows, having arrived at Old Trafford via Sheffield United, Hull City, Wigan Athletic and Leicester City, that there is a football world outside Glazer’s sphere of interest, one in which clubs rise and fall on merit rather than existing in some steel-clad protectorate.
For an American brought up on closed-shop sport, roping off 15 places out of 20 forever at Europe’s high table for United and their co-conspirators, may seem above board but this side of the Atlantic we don’t care for those who cheat at oligopoly.
Missing out on Champions League windfalls because of poor performance on the field is inconvenient for the balance sheet but that is the game. If you don’t want to play by the rules, don’t play at all. Don’t start to rewrite them.
The greed at play in the ESL plan is staggering. Even those driving it States-side might be faintly embarrassed – if they were capable of such a feeling.
A comparison with American sports reveals the full bloated scale of the avarice. The NFL pot is shared out between 32 competing franchises with 30 each in the NBA and Major League Baseball.
The European Super League plan, with just 20 clubs in all, ensures fewer mouths to feed and much more for those invited. If they are invited.
Supporter groups at the clubs tainted by their involvement have let it be known that this is not in their name. And it isn’t.
It is in nobody’s name but the Kroenke’s and Henry’s and their ilk. But if you allow your club to be sold to the highest bidder, to men who see sport in purely dollar terms you leave yourself open to this sort of collective hijacking.
There are individuals of conscience and conviction at the clubs involved. Marcus Rashford, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane…if they feel as strongly about the injustice threatened as they should do, it is the moment to make their voices heard.
Player power is real power – even against billionaire venture capitalists. So pick up the phone Harry. For football’s sake.