It was a big FA Cup game against Chelsea at Old Trafford in 1988 and the Stretford End was busier than usual. A crowd of 50,716 was present, 11,000 more than normal. Chelsea were on their way to relegation, but one of the game’s great appeals is that nothing is permanent and nor should it be. “Move along, let the part-timers in,” said a voice as I tried to squeeze past. “Then they can go back to their armchairs and watch the other games on TV.” It stung. To be an armchair fan was a stain on your credibility. The public address announcer at Middlesbrough tapped into this sentiment when they played United in the 1992 Rumbelows Cup semi-final. EPL ‘big six’ supporters’ clubs promise backlash; ‘unbridled American greed’ says one insider “Can I remind the part-timers here today that Middlesbrough Football Club do play here every other week and you’re welcome to come back to Ayresome Park,” he said to the much-increased crowd. And now? The fans who go to games (when it is possible) are the odd ones out. They’re the minority, the 1 per cent. They barely matter in the bigger picture. They’re window dressing, images of them cheering with flags and flares used to sell credit cards, coffee and cars. "They are an absolute joke." 😤 Gary Neville on the six Premier League clubs signing up to the 'European Super League' (via @footballdaily ) pic.twitter.com/zk4obWoHlB — ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 18, 2021 Match-going fans are the hardcore to extract the most money from. When FC Barcelona charged Manchester United fans €120 to sit in the nosebleed seats for a 2019 Champions League game, fans rightly complained – and then they bought every ticket. Via a screen is where the real money is. Football went global via television. Broadcasters and the public can’t get enough of it. With each new broadcast deal, fans and analysts talked about the bubble bursting. It never did. How Asia’s next generation of fans may help the 12 rebel clubs achieve their goals Now, a European Super League is planned – the motive a simple one: money. No fans have been consulted or considered, not least those who actually attend games. “Football without fans is nothing,” said a banner in Old Trafford’s Stretford End during lockdown. Banners are as cheap as talk. United ignored everyone of their fans as they signed up to a Super League, released via a statement at that handy time of 0010 on a Monday morning. How much time do you think even the smallest consideration of match going fans took up in those talks – led by people who’ve never been match-going fans themselves. Those making the decisions call themselves fans. They’re not. Money brought them into football and motivates them, nothing more. Believe it or not, there are actual fans who like to watch their team home and away and are fortunate enough to do so. They don’t have to be rich, plenty are working class work hard to fund their addiction of following their team in person. They use their holidays to book time off to travel to away games. What an embarrassment we’ve become @LFC think of all the people who have come before us at this club who would be equally embarrassed as well. #SuperLeague https://t.co/zLxhNyeaXB — Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) April 18, 2021 English football’s appeal to the middle class grew with Paul Gascoigne’s tears in Italia 1990, but stand outside any big stadium and see them for yourself. Normal working people going to watch their team. It’s still affordable. It’s £26 to watch United from the lower tier of the Stretford End. Kids can watch neighbours City for a fiver. Excellent value. Ticket prices have decreased and away tickets are limited to £30. But that’s domestic. In Europe, especially for Champions League games, the rip-offs continue. Prices can rise so that supply can equal demand and to hell with those who miss out. That’s capitalism and it’s rampant in football. Always has been, long before football opened its doors to oligarchs and governments who are more powerful than the authorities trying to govern the game. The mooted league will use debt and an American bank to try to finance it, just as the American owners of United and Liverpool used debt to finance their highly leveraged – and deeply unpopular – takeovers. Let someone else pay the mortgage on the massive house you’ve just bought. It’s clever if you think about it. The newer [football] addicts don’t care about ticket prices, allocations, atmosphere or that the last train to Manchester leaves 15 minutes before the end of the game And fans let it happen. They stamp their feet, they might even form a breakaway club like FC United and 4,000 fans went with them, but every single seat inside Old Trafford remained full after that 2005 takeover. Fans are loyal but they’re also fickle. Wins and trophies paper over almost anything. Fans are united yet disunited on tribal grounds. Most United fans who sang “Not for Sale” saw their club sold and they still went back for more. Every week. They’re addicts and as football has grown exponentially, so the number of addicts has too. There interest huge interest in the biggest Premier League clubs – six of the ESL breakaway teams are English while those joining them from Spain and Italy are spooked by the burgeoning power of the Premier League and want to join the gang. Football is truly global. The newer addicts don’t care about ticket prices, allocations, atmosphere or that the last train to Manchester leaves 15 minutes before the end of Crystal Palace vs Man United (because television switched the game to inconvenience those who attend in person). And why should they? They’re quite happy watching on high-definition televisions. They create their own subcultures, groups and gangs and buy into fandom on their terms. Good for them. The ESL wants these people. Build it and they think they’ll come. Play United against Barcelona once a season rather than once a decade. I’ll concede that it is bizarre that two of the three biggest clubs in the world meet in preseason friendlies more often than actual games, but less can be more. The ESL wants to pick the cherries, to take the best bits because they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. It wants teams of serial winners who attracted fans because of their winning to play each other. Have they thought that for every winner, there needs to be a loser?