Being the Rust’s contributing editor on the sport of pugilism, I cannot not claim for myself the privilege of being a particular fan of football.
However, it seems to me that one of the ironies highlighted by the recent “attempted breakaway” ESL debacle at the pinnacle of European football has been the significant degree of misunderstanding and/or hypocrisy behind the supposed “fans’ revolt” against the Premier League “Big Six” clubs – and indeed those in Italy, Germany and Spain that have been rumoured to have considered becoming involved – or indeed not.
Reviewing the media reports and the ‘on air’ reactions of both ordinary fans and those who claim to be “fans representatives”, it is quite clear that one of the linch-pins behind their sense of entitlement is that football clubs are much more than simply the business entities designed to make money for their shareholders that de facto they really are.
This line of thinking holds that Premier football clubs, which sit at the centre of their geographical locations and history, ultimately and spiritually “belong to the people” (i.e. their fans) rather than the sometimes faceless financiers, businessmen – and in at least one case country – that legally own them.
My simple thrust and recollection is that – at different stages in the past – Chelsea and Manchester City had fallen on rather barren times in terms of positions in the Premiership (and before that the First Division), silverware in their trophy cabinets and indeed success generally.
They has spent a good deal time – to be fair, like most other clubs in the top two (or three) tiers of English football – being buffeted about upon the ocean tides of good and bad fortune and had become very much “second best” to other great clubs in their own cities and, to all intents and purposes, looked like remaining so for decades to come.
That was until – in Chelsea’s case – the Russian/Israeli businessman Roman Abramovich (Forbes’s estimated worth US$12.9 billion in 2019, making him the 113th richest person in the world) stepped in and bought the club in 2003.
In Manchester City’s case, one Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan – Emirati deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi (Forbes’s estimated worth in 2018 some US$22 billion) – bought the club in 2008.
To be blunt about it, since then both clubs have effectively “bought their way” to whatever considerable and lasting success they have since enjoyed.
Despite the fans of most Premier League football clubs – including those of all the “Big Six” who so offended the football world by ever considering joining the ESL – being unified in their condemnation of the now-abandoned project, you don’t hear many Chelsea or Manchester City fans complaining about their club’s relative success respectively since 2003 and 2008.
I’m just making the point …