Aston Villa is on the Right Side of History as Football Finally Unites Against the Ugly

Good Bad Ugly

With Aston Villa’s fortunes more good and less ugly nowadays, MOMS podcast contributor Phil Shaw resurrects ‘The Good, Bad & Ugly’, an old favourite MOMS column that started over eight years ago on the site…

By Phil Shaw

An early Good, Bad and Ugly this week, not much to talk about is there…

The Good 

Aston Villa are nothing to do with ‘The Super League’.

Villan of the Week

Christian Purslow – The Villa CEO was fast out of the traps to label The Super League a “grotesque concept” on national radio.

The Bad

Let’s call the Super League what it is. It’s desperation.

The two biggest clubs in Spain are in financial peril. Even with the Champions League and the reforms, there isn’t enough guaranteed money to keep them in the lofty position they have become accustomed to.

La Liga is becoming more competitive (who do Atlético Madrid and Sevilla think they are?), and the owners’ lack of sporting knowledge has been exposed on the pitch. The pandemic has also exposed their simple business model of paying ridiculous wages to secure a successful team, with no gate receipts and diminishing commercial streams to prop it up.

A similar scenario is playing out in Italy too.

So, what do they do?

They have to remove the main variable.

The variable is competition.

They roll the dice, and look around for the most desperate owners they can find and add to their numbers. You don’t even need to go far to see the appeal to the six English Club owners.

Arsenal, have been underperforming on the pitch for years during the The Emirates Stadium era.

Tottenham Hotspur, shining new expensive stadium, financial plans in ruin due to COVID-19. 

Manchester United, run by venture capitalists, who in the words of Gary Neville, don’t even maintain the stadium.

Liverpool, after finally winning the Premier League, humbled by a poor season and injuries.

Chelsea and Manchester City, wealth in spades, they crave legitimacy. They will always want to be at the top table.

It is brazen, and it is embarrassing for these clubs. 

At the first sight of ‘some leg’ from the big boys in Europe, Arsenal and Spurs come running from mid-table. 

Manchester United and Liverpool, the two most successful clubs in English Football, see a chance to make that permanent. After all, they feel entitled to do so and that’s what stinks the most about the whole thing.

We are used to poking fun at fans of the two biggest clubs because all they have ever known is success. 

Now, these same fans are in the drawer called ‘Legacy Fans’.

Not only do their clubs view them as disposable, they’ve inherited this entitlement, and now they’ve been abandoned and sympathy is at a premium.

Like all ideological power grabs, The Super League, seemed deaf to predictable criticism or actual consequence.

If UEFA and FIFA refused to sanction this league, they would have needed to form a new association. They would need referees, a rule set (maybe they would have improved VAR, though?), sponsorship, balls, video game tie-ins, basically all the things they take for granted now.

It is tempting to liken this to Brexit. No matter your ideological perspective, if you don’t think things through in minute detail, the smallest aspect can send the whole thing tumbling.

Player contracts, bonuses, and more accepted details, seem to have been taken for granted because the entitled six, just think they are bulletproof.

But like their fans found out. Nobody is indispensable in the world of football.

The rest of the football world swiftly mobilised against them, with the UK government on side, threatening a ‘legislative bomb’ against the new league.

Aston Villa shirt sales

The Ugly 

There was an understandably furious reaction to the ‘Super League’ proposals across all footballing media, but among the outrage there are still people trying to score points. 

There’s a much bigger cause here that some people are missing.

I don’t care that David Beckham owns a franchise in the MLS and as such is open to be called part of the problem.

I don’t care about people’s opinions on politicians and their failures in other fields.

I don’t care if you are anti-monarchy and want it abolished. 

When people in positions of power, no matter how they got there are willing to stand up to a threat like the Super League, you let them do it. 

It’s what’s called a common goal.

It was a threat to football as we know it, and now paves the way to focus on further improvement in football, before we all go back to more tribal and ideological issues.

Football isn’t perfect, UEFA is not a squeaky clean organisation and the Premier League has never covered itself in glory, yet the threat of the Super League is so fundamental and damaging, issues needed setting aside to fight the common enemy.

There isn’t a magic wand that can make everyone fighting this abomination a saint and that’s exactly what the founding clubs owners were banking on.

People are correctly pointing out how the outrage is disproportionate to the response to racism in the game. 

There’s no denying that racism is a problem that needs full attention, yet that is fundamentally a societal problem and cannot be stopped overnight.

The Super League could.

Everyone needs to face the Ugly fact that anyone who cares about football is in this together.


Follow Phil on Twitter here – @PRSGAME

Check out the latest MOMS podcast show (featuring Phil)