‘Catalyst for change’ needed to safeguard football

Disgruntled fans continued to protest as the fall-out from the ailing European Super League project rumbled on, with a board member of the Arsenal Supporters Trust calling for the unsavoury saga to be used as a “catalyst for change”.

Tottenham Hotspur fans stage a protest outside of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London.
Tottenham Hotspur fans stage a protest outside of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London.

The six Premier League teams who originally signed up to form a breakaway competition with some of the biggest clubs in European football have now backed out of the plans after a furious backlash from supporters and the wider footballing world.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham have all come in for criticism, with the proposals for a competition which would offer protected against relegation seen as a blatant power grab.

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On Wednesday evening, a number of Tottenham fans gathered at the stadium ahead of their 2-1 home win over Southampton to protest against chairman Daniel Levy and the club’s ENIC owners.

Spurs fans, who have been vocal in the past about Levy’s stewardship, congregated with banners and chanted songs in protestation at the club’s plans to join in the ESL. It was a peaceful demonstration, but did distract from Ryan Mason’s first game in interim charge following Jose Mourinho’s sacking.

Arsenal host Everton in the Premier League on Friday evening and, although the club has now withdrawn from the controversial plans, protests aimed at owner Stan Kroenke are still expected outside of the Emirates Stadium.

Akhil Vyas, a board member of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, has called for football to respond to the breakaway division and borrowed a phrase from Arsenal’s former chief executive Ivan Gazidis to make his point.

“He’s been such an absent owner that he will probably just hide like an absolute coward like he has been doing all week, hoping that it just blows over,” Vyas told the PA news agency when asked about Kroenke.

“There’s a lot of noise on social media protests and around London, but I’m not sure how much Stan Kroenke cares or will see of it. They’ll be hoping it just goes away, but I’m hoping it doesn’t and I’m hoping this can really be used as a catalyst - there’s a famous Ivan Gazidis line from a few years ago when he called for a ‘catalyst for change’, well I think this is a catalyst for change, not just for Arsenal fans but for football fans.”

Goals from Gareth Bale and a Son Heung-min penalty gave Spurs victory. Danny Ings netted for Southampton.

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