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ESL – after the dust has settled

Date: 28th April 2021

During the chaos of the attempted breakaway by 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs we proposed a better way forward, drawing on the work of SD Europe and Football Supporters Europe, and based on the principles of sporting integrity, protection of domestic football, recognition of fan culture, fairer revenue distribution and sustainability, and dialogue with fans and other stakeholders.
It was encouraging to see these same principles espoused by football associations, leagues, clubs, players and media commentators in the 48 hours when the stability of European football was under threat. And while that threat has faded it has not disappeared, with three of the breakaway clubs still on board with the plan and surely preparing updated proposals and invitations for clubs to join them. The same people and organisations that spoke up against ESL now need to stand firm behind those statements of principle and put them into practice themselves – and as supporters we must hold them to account.
Some may have questioned what all of this had to do with a Scottish supporters organisation, given that none of the breakaway clubs were from Scotland… we felt that it was important to show solidarity with our counterparts in the rest of the UK and across the continent, and we also promote the same principles in Scottish football. We recently shared our proposal for creating a virtuous cycle in Scottish football to a range of stakeholders convened by the Scottish Parliament, and look forward to developing these ideas further over the term of the next Parliament. This has the potential to become a similar process to the fan-led review of football that was kicked off in Westminster last week (under duress as a “last resort”, ironically, given that it was a 2019 manifesto promise!), and we will stay closely connected to our friends at the Football Supporters Association to learn from this process and explore whether aspects of it can be applied here in Scotland.
At the heart of our virtuous cycle is the idea that the whole of our game can thrive, in contrast to the concentration of power and resources at the top of the game that would result from the recent European Super League and Project Big Picture proposals. UEFA’s current club competitions and many of the domestic leagues across the continent – including our own – also fail to share power and money adequately. Perhaps it is time for a fundamental rethink?


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