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EXCLUSIVE Debt-ridden Barca and Real needed European Super League but Premier clubs should have known better

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Liverpool fans left banner outside Anfield in protest against the proposed European Super League. Photo: AP Photo/Jon Super

Liverpool fans left banner outside Anfield in protest against the proposed European Super League. Photo: AP Photo/Jon Super

Fans gather outside the stadium to protest against the European Super League prior to the La Liga match between Cadiz CF and Real Madrid. Photo: Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Fans gather outside the stadium to protest against the European Super League prior to the La Liga match between Cadiz CF and Real Madrid. Photo: Fran Santiago/Getty Images

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Liverpool fans left banner outside Anfield in protest against the proposed European Super League. Photo: AP Photo/Jon Super

The European Super League, as it was proposed a few days ago, is dead, and there’s no doubt that what happened in the space of 48 hours this week was wrong.

But the idea behind it, and the motivations that drove it, won’t go away. This wasn’t about improving football, it was about money and greed.

The world changes, viewing habits change. You hear this research now that young people can’t sit and watch a full 90 minutes, they only want to watch clips.

The Champions League is not particularly interesting now, until you get to the last eight or so. It needs to be changed and, whether we like it or not, the view now in UEFA and from the clubs is that we need more games.

I wonder if we really want to see Liverpool against a lesser club from a lesser league in the Champions League. As a one-off, that’s fine. But over two legs, on a regular basis, every year, the big club will always get through.

And that’s not what people want – they want uncertainty, they want to know there’s a possibility that Liverpool might lose.

The big clubs want more money, so you need more games... but the only excitement comes when there is jeopardy, when you know that someone can be knocked out.

I don’t know how you change it, and maybe the Swiss model isn’t the answer, as it doesn’t look good on paper. But the Nations League looked dubious at the start and it has shown its value, it’s been interesting and has helped some of the smaller nations.

Even though the big clubs don’t play their strongest teams in the FA Cup, they still compete and there’s still that chance that they could lose to a lower-league club.

But this is different: a Premier League club isn’t bothered too much if they lose in the FA Cup, but Real Madrid and Juventus and Barcelona need the money, they want a divine right to be in semi-finals.

But if they haven’t run their club properly, then it’s the clubs who have the finances in order – who pay their players what they can afford to pay, who don’t have massive debts – who deserve their success.

What gets me most about the Super League idea was the presence of Arsenal and Tottenham in there. They have done nothing in Europe for decades, so why are they considered to be Super League clubs?

Spurs could go into the Super League, knowing well that they won’t win it. So there’s no incentive to invest in their team, they will make their money, even if they finish bottom. And they can’t be relegated. It’s just making money, there’s no consequence for winning or losing.

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You have clubs that are desperate, Real Madrid and Barcelona are close to bankrupt, and the Italian league has been in a bad way for a few years, with Arsenal and Spurs looking to make a few quid.

It’s an extension of the American franchise system, which just doesn’t work in European sport. The Super League clubs wanted to make changes to the Champions League format, but they weren’t willing to wait and lobby UEFA to make their point.

This has been going on for years, in one way or another, clubs trying to increase their revenue. And the plan they came up with was wrong – it was the wrong concept in what is supposed to be a fair sport.

You have to look at two clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, who are massively in debt but who can’t attract the TV money that’s available in the Premier League – and they want the same cash that the English clubs have.

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Fans gather outside the stadium to protest against the European Super League prior to the La Liga match between Cadiz CF and Real Madrid. Photo: Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Fans gather outside the stadium to protest against the European Super League prior to the La Liga match between Cadiz CF and Real Madrid. Photo: Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Fans gather outside the stadium to protest against the European Super League prior to the La Liga match between Cadiz CF and Real Madrid. Photo: Fran Santiago/Getty Images

The two La Liga teams have over-spent but blamed everyone else, and what they have done is disgusting. They just want more money, they won’t want to change their philosophy.

Other clubs thought, well if this is the way it’s going, we need to jump on board, it was the next step in football.

But those other clubs, mainly the Premier League ones, should have been wiser.

They should have been able to judge what the fans’ reaction would be, because it was obvious to me that this was never going to go down well with the public.

No one involved is absolved of blame, the 12 clubs were all in the wrong. They should have thought about it longer, looked beyond the boardroom and considered the fans.

The whole idea of the Super League was to make more money for the big clubs, but Manchester City and Chelsea don’t really need more money. They need to be involved at the highest level and if there is a breakaway league at the elite end, they felt they needed to be part of it.

I feel they were more focused on the competition side of it, they felt they couldn’t be left behind but they weren’t motivated by money.

That doesn’t make up for the fact that City and Chelsea signed up for it – and it was wrong, but they were the first two to pull away.

And you can’t ignore history, as Manchester City fans know. The City of today doesn’t exist if the team of 1998/99 had not survived and come back out of League One. It’s the fans who helped the club stay alive in League One and who helped them get to where they are now, and that has to be remembered.

People will still want some form of a European Super League but it won’t be to the detriment of the other clubs in the football leagues, you have to give people a chance. I look at Sunderland, who are in League One, who have been struggling, exactly where Manchester City were not so long ago.

They have a Premier League pedigree, a big stadium and a good history, so maybe their owner’s ambition is to get into the Champions League.

And they need to be allowed to have those ambitions, not have them cut away like the Super League had planned.

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