May 13, 2021

Man Utd


Ed Woodward is missing the point with his Man United wish

3 min read

As the football world was coming to terms with shock plans to launch a new European Super League, Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was resigning from his Uefa role.

Woodward was appointed onto Uefa’s Professional Football Strategy Council as an ECA representative in September 2017, now his role is untenable with interests firmly focused on the rival Super League.

United insist the uproar is similar to that when the Premier League and Champions League were initially founded, with modern social media platforms perhaps amplifying the voices of those who disagree with such a proposal.

They couldn’t be further from the truth.

While the 12 clubs involved in the ESL want to market it as an open tournament which still has five open spaces for others to get involved, they are blindly ignoring the major issue with it – the sheer arrogance of those dictating the playing field.

The prospect of a new ‘Super League’ isn’t much of a surprise given the finances behind modern football, but the suggestion of protecting historically powerful teams for the foreseeable future is bordering on totalitarian and completely undermines the open nature of the sport.

In the last year we have seen United lose to both Sevilla and Istanbul Basaksehir in European competition, two less glamorous clubs not seen worthy of a cup competition which parades four teams never to have conquered the ultimate challenge in European football.

Woodward reassured supporters on the November fans’ forum United would ‘keep matchgoing fans firmly in the centre of thoughts’ over possible changes to European club competition. A source present on the call has confirmed to the Manchester Evening News fans were not consulted on United’s involvement in the Super League.

“We believe any changes to European competition post-2024 must be complementary to thriving domestic leagues,” he said. “Other domestic leagues feel the same way, reflected in conversation with our counterparts in other clubs and countries.”

His wish is fanciful, pursuing with an ESL which protects six English teams in the Premier League will not thrive, but it will die.

Multi-billion investment in the six English founder teams is not the same pioneering reason why Sir Matt Busby fought so hard to be involved in the European Cup, nor is it an opportunity to showcase the talents of the domestic game to a wider audience.

If those six teams are given as much money as is being reported the enormous chasm in the Premier League will only continue to grow, while the quality of the league will enormously suffer if there are no fluid continental competition places up for grabs.

This season could see Leicester and West Ham finish in the top four, The Foxes win the FA Cup while both Uefa competitions could be won by sides not involved in the ESL proposal. So much for an elite competition.

While you can understand why Woodward would want both the riches of Premier League and ESL revenue, it simply isn’t a feasible combination.

If United really want the domestic game to ‘thrive’ they need to make a monumental U-turn before it’s too late. Even if they did, they wouldn’t deserve forgiveness.

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