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How this Liverpool fan came close to quitting over the European Super League

Liverpool fans hold up a protest banner against the European Super League outside Elland Road on April 19, 2021 in Leeds - Credit: Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The New European editor-in-chief and Liverpool fan MATT KELLY on the pain and confusion caused by his club’s actions

My wife doesn’t understand me. 

The events of this week threw me into a deep funk from which I have yet to recover. The unprecedented headaches I began to suffer on Monday can’t have been just a coincidence.

The reversal of English clubs after three days of depressing idiocy should be a clear win for fan power. 

But it’s made me question everything I assumed was true of the game. 
This is the conversation I had on our afternoon walk on Monday, as news of football’s great betrayal sank in:

My Wife: What’s up? Did you weigh yourself again?

Me: No. It’s not that. It’s Liverpool. So bloody depressing.

MW: I don’t get it. I thought you loved watching them play Barcelona and Madrid and all that lot.

Me: Of course I do. But only when it counts! It’s special when you play them in the European Cup. You’ve got to earn it. This idea takes what is hard and special and makes it easy and mundane. 

And Liverpool! Of all clubs! I mean, the European Cup’s such a big part of the club. Six times! (sings) We’ve won it six times! 

The European Cup’s the holy bloody grail. 

Bloody Arsenal have never even been close to winning it and now they get to play for it every year? Do me a favour.

It’s the European Cup. Seventy years of unbroken footballing history. You don’t mess with that.

MW: I thought it was called the Champions League?

Me: Yeah. European Cup, Champions League. Same thing. Except for a series of fundamental format changes designed to make it more commercially appealing and completely disregarding the concept that you’d have to be actual champions to play in the Champions League. But that aside, it’s 70 years of history. And we’ve won it six times. Six.

MW: I believe you may have mentioned that earlier.

Me: The miracle of Istanbul! 
Tommy Smith leaping like a salmon to head the winner in Rome! 
Trent’s corner in the second leg against Barcelona! 
The absolute gob on Messi when that went it! Magic.

MW: Could you repeat that in Greek please? I’d have a better chance.

Me: Look. You don’t understand. You’re not a football fan.

MW: Well, I am from Aberdeen.

Me: Aberdeen! There you go! What’s the greatest moment in the history of Aberdeen football club?

MW: (without hesitation) 1983. Gothenburg. European Cup Winners Cup. Aberdeen 2, Real Madrid 1. John Hewitt header to win it in extra time. One hundredth and twelfth minute. (sings) Come on Aberdeen… You’re the best we’ve ever seen!

Me: See?

MW: Fair enough. But it still doesn’t matter, does it? You’ll be the first to pay whatever they tell you to so you can watch Liverpool playing in the SuperLeague.

Me: Won’t. That’s it for me. They do this, I’m out.

MW: (scoffs) Bullshit.

Me: No. I’m serious. The one thing you always assume as a fan is that the club is bigger than the owners. 

Owners come and go, but the club? Outside of family, it’s the one constant in my life. Jobs, homes, friends… they all come and go. But Liverpool’s been my club since I was six. It’s our kids’ club. 

This stuff matters.

MW: But it’s still football. It’s not like they’re going to start playing it in a swimming pool with frisbees. And you can’t tell me that the existing set up isn’t a racket. 
You’ve been moaning for years about how the Premier League’s been pricing a lot of people out of the game, more worried about broadcast deals than looking after fans and creating a financial structure massively weighted towards the big clubs which makes winning the Champions League much easier for them anyway.

So it’s already a fix, isn’t it?

Me: Well…

MW: And these people who are crying about the breakaway, Fifa and Uefa, they’re as bent as a Beckham free-kick. Who was that guy?

Me: Sepp Blatter?

MW: No. Someone else.

Me: Jack Warner? Chuck Blazer?

MW: Nah.

Me: Michel Platini?

MW: Is he the one with the good tan?

Me: They’ve all got good bloody tans. Of course they’ve got nice tans. They live on bloody yachts. Look, we could go on naming bent Fifa officials all day. It’s not the point.

MW: So your point is that you prefer that gang of cynical, morally bankrupt shysters to this gang of cynical morally bankrupt shysters, and you prefer the way the Champions League is currently fixed to the way they propose fixing it. Is that it?

Me: Oh for god’s sake. There you go again. Beating me down with facts and logic. Pathetic.

MW: Why don’t you just go and support a decent club that doesn’t assume the world owes it success? 
Like Everton.

Me: Right. You’ve gone too far now. I’m going to the pub.

MW: You can’t. You need to book online. This really isn’t your lucky day, is it?

Like I said, my wife doesn’t understand me. Now I’m not sure I understand me either. 

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