TERRY Fenwick, TT men’s football team coach, and Brent Sancho, former national team defender, have both condemned the idea of a European Super League, which will see 12 of the top clubs in Europe involved in a breakaway league.
On Sunday, news broke that Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham (England), Inter Milan, Juventus, AC Milan (Italy), Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid (Spain) have agreed to participate in the event, which is planned to rival, or even replace, the UEFA Champions League.
“I’m listening to all of the opinions that have been thrown around,” said the English-born Fenwick, who played for Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham and Swindon Town between 1976 and 1995. “We’ve already got a good system of play, across the board, in world football. Developing a European Super League, I don’t see it making too much sense. It unhinges all of the top leagues in the world.”
The former England defender continued, “At the end of the day, every team in every country cherishes and relishes the games that are coming up and the rivalries that you’ve got in football in all the countries. This new rule, that would absolutely diminish (it).”
Sancho, who played professionally in TT, the United States, England and Scotland, from 1998 to 2010, said, “My initial reaction is one of disgust. This is one of the things that has destroyed the game, is the pursuit of money. I’m not a fan of it because it seems like it’s driven by money.”
Do they think it’s a case of big fish eating the little fish?
Fenwick replied, “The Premier League were the first one to go worldwide with their TV rights. Wherever you are in the world today, you support a local team and you support a Manchester United or a Man City because of the Premier League. Having said that, British football provides 33 per cent of the worldwide flow of monies that are coming into FIFA because of the same television rights.
“This, I see, is to possibly undermine the Premier League and to take away the power that the Premier League has had over the last decade. It’s going to be interesting how this goes out.”
According to Sancho, “I’m very sure that the leaders of the top clubs of the world wouldn’t come out and make a statement like that unless they have every single legal aspect and opinion. They fully understand the ramifications that come with it. The mere fact that they came out with a statement means they mean business.”
The former Minister of Sport continued, “This is a reflection of what the game has become. It’s all about money, on both sides, from UEFA and FIFA side and from the Super League side. The main aspect of this is all about money. Both sides are going to try and flex their muscle because of the monetary impact.
“I didn’t see the same sort of bite-back by FIFA and UEFA when it comes to racism. They didn’t take such a strong stance. This is purely about business and money.”
Several Caribbean players (either born in the Caribbean or players eligible to play for Caribbean teams) are involved in leagues throughout Europe. How will this affect them, including Levi Garcia who is playing for Athens? Will they be keen to play in the Champions League if it becomes watered down?
Fenwick responded, “What you’re looking at here is they’re almost putting it out of reach for smaller regions of the world, like the Caribbean, for players who have got ambitions to play football at the highest level. We’ve only got to look at the development programmes in our own region and we see what the United States have done. Almost the entirety of the United States team are now playing in the top leagues in Europe. Canada (and) Mexico are doing the same.”
Fenwick, the former San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC coach, added,
“All the top Brazilians are playing in Europe because that’s where the money is. If they (have) a Super League, that puts away all the opportunities for so many more footballers. They’re trying to institute the elite players of the world in one league. The money, the TV rights, will now be angled towards that. What repercussions will that be for local, domestic leagues all over the world?”
Sancho pointed out, “Anything that would mean players making more money from the sport, I would certainly approve of, because many times the players become the bastard child of any decision made in boardrooms. From a Caribbean perspective, this will have some serious implications for the ones who are not at the top of the tree.
“Whether it be television or fans, it will now diminish the earning capacity of some of the lower-tier clubs, and even the survival of some of these clubs,” continued the interim TT Pro League chairman. “Playing against elite competition is what really gives the clubs the capacity to earn money and employ a Levi Garcia or Sheldon Bateau. For me, what is going to stop the top countries in the world from wanting to start their own leagues.
“Brazil, Argentina, France and Germany (for instance), if they (say) ‘if the clubs can do it, why can’t we do it’, and have a World Cup without TT, Panama and Honduras. Where does this stop?”
Asked if he thinks the Super League will become a reality, Fenwick replied, “We all recognise the politics that is played out in big business. Football today is big business, so anything can happen. I’m just hoping that there (are) enough big people in the game that have got the game at heart and recognise that world football will take a hefty knock on the chin if this (is) to go forward.”