Gazette opinion: Collapse of the European Super League shows what can be achieved when fans come together - just ask Blackpool fans

Make no mistake, the greedy, ugly, shameless European Super League plans are in tatters because of the backlash from English football fans.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 1:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 1:39 pm

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If these whirlwind last couple of days have proven anything, other than rich businessmen’s desire to become even richer, it’s that football supporters have a powerful voice, especially when they put their tribalism to one side and unite for a common goal.

While it was ultimately Valeri Belokon’s court action that rid Blackpool of the despised Oystons, the fans’ boycott - an unprecedented display of supporters voting with their feet, which hasn’t been seen anywhere else before or after - set the tone.

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Witnessing a similar level of anger, dissent and protest, only on a national scale has been heartening to see. So please, never underestimate the power of your voice.

Indeed, now is the time to harness our collective outrage to enforce real change. It might seem hyperbolic, but now is the time to reclaim our game.

We finally seem to be building up some momentum in terms of the growing calls for stronger regulation and improved governance.

Generally speaking, I have no real faith in the government, but they seem to be taking this issue seriously and have announced plans for a fan-led review, so let’s hope they see it through and enact proper change. It’s well overdue.

Blackpool led the fight for improved governance and regulation during their struggle against the Oystons

Fans have known for quite some time now that change is required. That mood was epitomised by Blackpool supporters, who were calling for independent regulation as far back as six years ago.

The calls, as impassioned as they were, were largely ignored and minimised to the local level. Although the changes will be to the benefit of everyone and would have avoided the catastrophes at Wigan Athletic, Bury, Macclesfield Town and so on, opposition fans, for whatever reason, just didn’t want to know.

But now everyone appears to be on board, whether it’s supporters, local and national media, players, managers and even the government.

So this really ought to be a watershed moment, a moment in time we’re able to look back on as when things finally changed for the better. It simply has to be the catalyst for change.

Super-wealthy businessmen with no affiliation or understanding of the traditions of our game must no longer be allowed to do as they wish. They must realise they are purely custodians.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against outside investment. To have a league as strong as the Premier League requires big money to attract the best players and managers.

But, there simply have to be checks and balances. As we’ve seen in recent days, once owners think they can get away with whatever they want, there’s no end to where they’ll take our game. And that’s exactly what it is, our game.

Supporters are the heart and soul of our football clubs. Football in this country is much more than just a spot, it’s a lifestyle and it’s essential to the very fabric of our nation.

That’s why, perhaps, that the strength of feeling on these shores was so much stronger than they were in Spain and Italy. The opposition from all countries appeared to be fairly widespread, but we took it a lot more personally and made sure this greed, this coup would be crushed.

Isn’t it amazing what can be achieved when people come together? Don’t ever forget that.

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