All the captains shared our views on Super League – and they were not positive | Ben Mee
I said from the start the European Super League would be dead within a week but I was not expecting it to have come and gone in 48 hours. The idea was based on pure greed and I hope we never see its like again.
My first reaction was disbelief. Those who came up with the concept and those who signed up to it do not understand what football means to people. The clubs involved hid behind the pandemic and claimed it would bring stability to the sport, which I could not believe. Fans and players saw through it very quickly.
From the moment we got on the bus after losing at Old Trafford on Sunday, it is all the Burnley squad have talked about. There was a lot of anger within the team because we could not comprehend how these people could do this to our game. You know things are serious when Jordan Henderson sends a message to the Premier League captains’ WhatsApp group.
We all shared our similar views on the matter there, and needless to say they were not positive. Those at the clubs involved were put in an incredibly difficult position, knowing their employers were trying to do something against their wishes. They love football and would not want anything to happen to the Premier League. We understand our responsibilities and I am sure some of the boys took their conversations further. We had a meeting planned for Wednesday night but, luckily, we did not require it as the house of cards collapsed after witnessing the backlash.
The captains are willing to put rivalries aside and speak to one another, something that I do not think would have happened before last year. We like to think we have made a positive impact with this and our money-raising for the NHS, and hopefully we can continue to do so on a wide range of topics for the better of the game and society.
It was fantastic to see fans mobilise immediately to ensure their voice was heard and this idea was thrown out. The supporters are always behind us and it is right we are there to back them up. We are not just players, we are football fans who have grown up with the sport and know what it means to people in the stands and at home. We are the lucky ones, living out our childhood dreams and those of the people who pay their hard-earned money each weekend to watch teams play.
Footballers play for the fans, not people in boardrooms. No one scores a goal or makes a last-ditch tackle to earn the praise of the owners. They do it for the feeling they get when the crowd roars. The feeling of elation when we win is the same as it was as a kid, something those who know little about football cannot relate to. Football is about competition and enjoyment – that’s why we love the game. Without that it’s just business.
When I started hearing Florentino Pérez discuss shortening matches as young people cannot possibly cope with 90 minutes of live football, it summed up how ludicrous the concept was. There are always going to be tweaks that can be made to improve the game but this one proves how little credibility these people have. Pérez sounds like someone who is a little bit desperate to earn his money for a club in a lot of debt.
What gives these clubs the right to say they are the best six? Leicester won the title in 2016, whereas Spurs have never won the Premier League. Their plans would have devalued the Premier League, a competition revered around the world, just so they could line their own pockets. This is our national game, the biggest sport around the world and 12 clubs somehow concluded, without consultation, they were more important than anyone else. It was a self-serving idea, not one to aid the rest of the football pyramid.
The business of football has not made too much of an impact on my career, because for some reason no brands want me to front their shampoo or deodorant campaigns, but you are always aware of it in the background. I like to focus on what I am good at on the pitch and leave the people that are supposedly the experts on stuff away from it to do their job. Burnley’s finances have been controlled really well over the last few years and we are in a really good position. Not all clubs can say the same.
To not consult players and coaches, even though the decision would have a dramatic impact on their careers, showed a lack of respect. These are people who have played in the best leagues all over the world, won major trophies from the Champions League to the World Cup, but owners ignored them in this whole desperate process, thinking that being well-remunerated means they will go along with anything.