Steve Rowland 'filled with horror' at Super League proposal which reminds Blackpool fans of battle for their community club

A European Super League may sound a world away from Blackpool's current concerns pursuing promotion from League One, though the issues raised by the proposed breakaway strike very close to home for many Seasiders fans.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 12:48 pm

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European Super League: The proposal and the backlash

None more so than Steve Rowland, who campaigned to reclaim the club for its community and supporters while it was controlled by the Oyston family, and who has served as Supporters' Liaison Officer for BFC since Simon Sadler's takeover.

And for Rowland, these developments at the elite end of the game are a worrying reminder of the disconnection between club and community which resulted in a longrunning fans' boycott of Blackpool games before the Sadler takeover of 2019.

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Blackpool supporters know more than most about fighting to protect a football club for its community

Expressing his personal views and not speaking as a representative of Blackpool FC, Rowland told The Gazette: "We are so pleased we finally have an owner who regards footsall as a force for good for the community and is prepared to give his backing to a team which will give the town pride in its club again.

"Yet at the other extreme we have a dozen or so very cynical, rich businessmen deciding to ride roughshod over the idea of clubs being community assets for supporters in pursuit of even more money for themselves, directors, agents and some extremely highly-paid players.

"I think this is a move which is cynical, anti-democratic and anti-competitive in the way it is being proposed, and it fills me with horror to think they could get away with it.

"I personally believe the FA made a mistake in allowing the Premier League 30 years ago, and a lot of people now see it as a mistake because the Premier League has become a monster accountable only to itself, and the European Super League would only take that to another level."

Blackpool supporters succeeded in challenging the authorities and fighting the powers-that-be to win the people's game back for local people.

Whether 'people power' can successfully stand up to a European Super League is a different question but Rowland added: "I'd like to think it can be stopped but I have been frustrated that the FA appears to lack courage in promoting better governance of the game. We were very hot on that and it was a cause for concern right through the Oyston era.

"When you see Norwich City receiving £90m for being promoted back into the Premier League, while other clubs in the EFL are going broke, it does make me think this is all out of kilter.

"And it will become more so if those trying to globalise the game are allowed to succeed.

"We need a concerted position on the part of all football authorities to stop it.

"It has already been suggested that breakaway clubs ought to be banned from their domestic leagues and cups, and their players banned from national teams. And if all the football authorities around the world stood firm on that this could be stopped in its tracks."