Since the shock news of a proposed new European Super League broke on Sunday, the backlash has continued apace. Many notable stars, past and present, and even several clubs have voiced their opposition to the concept and expressed concerns over the ramifications for the game — some earnestly, some with tongue firmly in cheek.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, for example, have gone ahead and declared themselves to be 2018-19 Premier League champions in the wake of the controversy.
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After 12 clubs signed up to take part in the breakaway competition there is the potential that they would be barred from competing in their domestic leagues and UEFA competitions as a result. Six Premier League clubs — Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur — announced their intention to join this week.
They just so happen to be the same half-a-dozen clubs that finished above Wolves in the 2018-19 campaign.
As a result, the club have cheekily altered their social media bio to read “Wolverhampton Wanderers, Premier League champions 2018-19.”
It’s probably too late for a parade 🏆🥳 pic.twitter.com/qEc24zBb7l
— Wolves (@Wolves) April 20, 2021
This comes after Real Betis had apparently pulled a similarly light-hearted stunt, with an alternate version of the Spanish top-flight table appearing on their club website with La Liga’s “big three” taken out.
The removal of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid from the equation saw Betis climb up into third place, though it did have the undesired effect of bumping local Andalusian rivals Sevilla into the top spot.
However, the amended league table was then removed from the Betis site with the club and their official data providers blaming an “error” for its appearance.
Real Betis appear to have deleted the breakaway Spanish clubs from the league table on their club website 👀
Even though it meant rivals Sevilla would be sat in 1st place 😳 pic.twitter.com/Xqz9zWPf78
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 19, 2021
Wolves’ Premier League rivals Everton delivered a far more worthy response to the Super League splitters, with an emotive statement that compels all who read it to reply with a clapping hands emoji and “#class.”
After the 12 elite clubs involved made their intentions clear, David Beckham was among the first high-profile dissenters as the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star offered his thoughts on the matter with a concise message on Instagram. Beckham, now a club owner with Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami, spoke out passionately against the idea of a Super League, writing that the game he has loved since he was a young child is in danger of being taken away from fans.
Beckham’s former Old Trafford teammate, Eric Cantona, delivered a characteristically passionate video message via his Instagram entitled “Power to the Fans.”
Another former United great, Gary Neville, used his platform as a TV analyst to call for the game to unite against the Super League cabal.
“Forget allegiances – we have got to come together to stop this proposal.” @GNev2 calls for football fans to unite against an ‘attack’ on football in this country.pic.twitter.com/upigKqAFH0
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 20, 2021
Neville’s broadcast colleague and ex-Liverpool stalwart, Jamie Carragher, also publicly criticised his former club for their “embarrassing” decision to sign up to the Super League.
What an embarrassment we’ve become @LFC think of all the people who have come before us at this club who would be equally embarrassed as well. #SuperLeague https://t.co/zLxhNyeaXB
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) April 18, 2021
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright jumped on the club’s official announcement that they are joining the Super League and branded them “absolutely shameful” for doing so.
Absolutely shameful @Arsenal https://t.co/p0q9a7wLY2 pic.twitter.com/lLzSf5i0wJ
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 19, 2021
Ballon d’Or winner Luis Figo was equally dismissive, branding Super League plans as “tragic” as well as “callous and greedy”.
The former Barca, Real Madrid and Inter Milan star issued a two-part statement via Twitter in which he also criticised “self-interested owners, who stopped caring about their fans long ago.”
This so called « Superleague » is anything but « Super ». This greedy and callous move would spell disaster for our grassroots, for women’s football, and the wider football community… (1/2)
— Luís Figo (@LuisFigo) April 19, 2021
(2/2) only to serve self-interested owners, who stopped caring about their fans long ago, and complete disregard for sporting merit. Tragic.
— Luís Figo (@LuisFigo) April 19, 2021
German Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, plus French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, are among the big European clubs to have so far not joined the rebellion.
Bayern defender Benjamin Pavard expressed his love for the current structure of elite football, and in particular the pride he feels at representing his team in the Champions League, saying: “It’s more than just a patch on the arm.”
Ce n’est pas qu’un patch sur une manche.
Ce sont des émotions indescriptibles en tant que joueur, des souvenirs incroyables en tant que fan.
C’est une compétition à laquelle tous les joueurs et tous les clubs doivent pouvoir aspirer s’ils le méritent ❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/PCWHT7eQXl
— Benjamin Pavard 5 (@BenPavard28) April 19, 2021
Even James Corden, host of “The Late Late Show,” broached the subject of the Super League during a segment on Monday night’s broadcast.
“I’m genuinely heartbroken,” Corden, a West Ham United fan, said as he delivered an eloquent monologue on his love for football.
We talked about the #SuperLeague on the show tonight. pic.twitter.com/6n40FlkNsA
— James Corden (@JKCorden) April 20, 2021
The media also had their say with a variety of outlets from around the world voicing their opinions via their front covers — mostly rallying against the Super League.
“WANTED: DIRTY 12.”
The fury at plans for a Super League is making headlines across Europe 😤 pic.twitter.com/0zV8nh64lX
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 20, 2021
L’Equipe went with a large image of Neymar and the headline “We are the Champions” — in testament to PSG’s refusal to take part in the breakaway league.
Gazzetta dello Sport opted for the direct route with images of players from the 12 clubs involved, a stack of money in front of them and the brusque headline: “Stop them!”
In Spain, Marca used their cover to highlight the widespread backlash by noting that “Governments, organizations, clubs, coaches, footballers, fans, and press” were all clamouring against the Super League.
Europe’s front pages on Tuesday react to the #SuperLeague “Football and money, always more”, “The Super League clashes with the (football) federations and governments”, “Super League, Italy is set against it.” pic.twitter.com/WOUzB2FWa1
— Saskya Vandoorne (@SaskyaCNN) April 20, 2021
Various other papers such as La Croix (France), El Pais (Spain), the Daily Telegraph (England) and Corriere della Sera (Italy) also ran with similarly critical headlines,
All in all, it seems as though not many people outside a dozen or so boardrooms around Europe think this enterprise is a good idea. Perhaps someone should tell them?