Politicians allowed the Super League to happen, now they are feigning outrage
Football has been about money, not fans or their wishes, for a very long time, it's too late for politics to change that
February 27 is Obafemi Martins day.
On that day - Obafemi Martins day - at Wembley in 2011, the diminutive Nigerian put the ball in the Arsenal net in the closing moments of the Carling Cup final, having come on as a sub in the 83rd minute. Delirium.
"This was the most easiest goal ever," he told the cameras that stormed the pitch after Birmingham City overcame all the odds. I would know, my £10 stake on the 2-1 scoreline returned £130 that kept us pissed on the train home, topless, wrapped in flags.
But the next season my club played its Europa League group stage fixtures from the Championship. We'd gone down, still yet to come back up, like many times before. Though, it's different now.
Because since 2007, when Birmingham began their financial entanglement with Carson Yeung, a Hong Kong businessman presently languishing in an Asian jail for laundering HK$720 million, we've been in decline.
Endless last-day-of-the-season-relegation-battles to avoid League One. The Blues became so much of a trope that at one point Harry Redknapp came in, bought a load of players, then left, after about a month.
Why the history lesson in a has-been team that no one beyond Tom Ross cares to talk about?
Because for every now-big club that benefits from a foreign buyout, that makes it to the Champions League, or the Super League, there are 100 who die at the hands of their owners. And that's not to mention the literal hundreds of people who do die at the hands of some owners.
To say the game's gone with the formation of the Super League is a bit like complaining about the lamentable lack of architecture in Mosul. It's an accurate observation but the time to do something about it was 20 years ago.
Like the frog that sits in gradually boiling water until its insides broil and eyes melt away, English football is arriving at its natural, inevitable heat death.
The thermometer we ignored was the takeovers by murderous, torturing monarchs, the World Cups in Russia and Qatar, that we thought a FIFA-bound delegation of Prince William and Becks bearing Mulberry handbags for executives' wives would secure our bid - in reality the deal was done and handshakes made before Golden Balls walked in the room, the astronomical cost of a season ticket to a club built on the backs of dockers, soldiers and fishermen.
These are the disgraces. Perpetuated.
But we didn't care. We didn't care about the torture, because it brought Aguero to the Etihad. Forget the gays in gulags down the road because - Oh. My. God. - England have won a penalty shootout. Limbs.
And very few from our politics cared about these problems. They are though, now, lining up like England's Love Train at a corner to condemn the Super League, its pursuit by greedy owners at the expense of The Fans™, of whom they cared so much about at Hillsborough.
While you can make arguments that any such footballing prospect would constitute a monopoly, insulated from free market forces, and therefore simply cannot stand in any right-thinking conservative's mind, that's not the reason they oppose it.
They oppose it because it would be political suicide to do otherwise.
A recent FootballJOE poll, with 32,803 respondents, found 88.7 per cent of people are in opposition to the concept.
Do you want a European Super League?
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) April 18, 2021
You don't need to be Dominic Cummings to realise it's pretty difficult to win an election with 11.3 per cent of the population on your side. So Boris Johnson's government has pledged to do whatever it takes, to stop the dastardly Super League. As has the European Commission, Emmanuel Macron and Keir Starmer. What they can do, if anything, in the face of global capital, its unerring creep to every corner of our lives, is questionable.
The waves of globalisation long ago breached the cliffs of Dover, washed over London, up the M40 to Birmingham, Manchester and beyond. What action should have been taken before the bombs fell on Baghdad?
You don't need to look much further than the Super League, and its lack of German behemoths, for an answer. Conspicuous in their absence, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are not, at present, a part of the proposal.
The club model in Germany sees fans always hold the majority share in their clubs. Simply put, they're not joining because their owners don't want to. It's just that the owners are individual fans, rather than international conglomerates or oil-laden royal families.
Something similar was actually proposed by a politician in the UK in 2019. Fan ownership was in the Labour party's manifesto, and several that preceded it. It was way too late, but it was something, after the pollution of disgrace and profit had taken the game over, like most great religions.
The thing is, in 2011, on Obafemi Martins day, we forgot all that. We held our noses to kiss the silverware. If football is to reclaim its soul, it needs to smell the stench of corruption that's long-loitered in club corridors across the country.