It’s been a crazy few days in the football world and as more details emerge with regards to the failed Super League, it is becoming clear this was seen as a political issue as well as a sporting one.
In footballing terms the plan was wholly rejected by fans, pundits, players and managers who felt blindsided by Sunday’s announcement, and saw it as a potential death knell for the game as we know and love it.
According to the Times however, political pressure was a key factor in the Super League plans falling apart. One of the UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s most trusted aides warned the United Arab Emirates that Manchester City’s participation in the competition would damage the relations between the two countries.
Lord Udny-Lister, an envoy to the Gulf warned the UAE government of the consequences of the proposed breakaway shortly after its announcement and as such, escalated the issue into something political.
Manchester City are owned by a group led by Sheikh Mansour, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family and the deputy prime minister of the UAE.
Fans all over the country have been credited for disrupting the project with their strong protests and their role should not be overlooked. However, as we learn more and more – it seems the plans were scuppered by a number of forces increasing the pressure on those involved.
City were the first Premier League club to officially pull out of the Super League although Chelsea had also signalled their intent to do so by that point. We’ll never know how much of an influence political factors had on their decision to withdraw but the sheer fact it escalated to such a level highlights just how unwelcome the formation of the league was on all levels.