“The supporters no longer want to see their club transformed into a tourist setting or into a global brand”

Priveted from the stands since the start of the pandemic, replaced by ambient recordings, synthetic images and advertising tarpaulins, football supporters have made a resounding comeback on the front of the rejection of the Super League, taking a preponderant part in his checking – especially in England, where six clubs were among its promoters.

For the leaders of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool, the withdrawal of the project and their apologies did not end the mobilizations, which continued until this weekend. Believing that they would always keep the ascendancy in the (old) tensions with the supporters, they gave them the opportunity to release a deep resentment.

Global fan vs. local supporter

The fact that the owners and the leaders of the “12” clearly did not anticipate this opposition shows the measure of their indifference to the supporters, essentially conceived as consumers – in the stadiums as in front of the pay channels.

Because their vision of football is also a vision of its audiences. An abstraction consulted by polls (favorable to the Super League, according to them), projected in the future – “Generation Z will be able to pay in less than five years”, rejoiced, in January, Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus – or measured in abstract quantities.

“Our twelve founding clubs represent four billion supporters”, assured Florentino Pérez, president of Real Madrid. Bigre: more than half of the world population… The supporters ready to take to the streets to defend their club and their principles are infinitely less numerous than this planetary mass of fans and followers, but they are louder. However, the football crisis is now a political crisis, brought to the public.

You can’t address the international fan and the “end-of-the-street supporter” in the same way for long, nor hide on which of the two you build your business. While the former has been prepared for the idea of ​​a closed league by promoting football of clubs and star players, the latter remains committed to respect for fairness, sporting uncertainty and opening of competitions. At least, he forbids insulting them so explicitly.

Club lovers are most of the time invisible to shareholders, who have no idea what a club means to them. Some dream of meeting at the top every week, while others still want to know the “Frosty evenings in Stoke”, refuse the dishonor of the qualifications of office and the elitist inter-self.

Necessary checks and balances

Those who mobilize in London or Manchester are not only calling for the departure of hated leaders, they are denouncing a model that has made the Premier League and their clubs tremendous prosperity, at an unprecedented cost: the eviction of popular audiences , stadium sanitization, prohibitive prices, cynical owners.

They feel dispossessed, no longer want to see their club transformed into a tourist setting or a global brand, want it to remain rooted in its territory. The unequal headlong rush of football, which was to culminate in the big leap towards an “NBA of football”, has stumbled on these roots.

Its supporters wanted to forget that football is still a sport, a culture, a heritage which belongs to its enthusiasts and cannot be dissolved in an economic activity. Supporters reminded club owners that they are not the owners of football, even though sports institutions do. annoyingly abandoned power.

The bankruptcy of the Girondins de Bordeaux, victims of the negligence of an investment fund and of leaders in conflict with the supporters, had been anticipated by the latter. As in Marseille or Nantes, they were right to alert, but were not heard.

“Football is nothing without fans”: “Football is nothing without the supporters”, recall the English demonstrators. One of the main challenges of the “after” is the place to be given to the public, in order to escape the divorce pronounced when leaders and supporters no longer have the same objectives, nor the same language.

Today, in Europe, it is time to discuss the development of popular shareholding, a representation of supporters in clubs and bodies or the German rule prohibiting having more than 49% of the votes in a club. … Democratic checks and balances are more essential than ever in football business.