Even by football’s standards, the last week has been quite extraordinary.
Once the news broke of six of English football’s biggest clubs lining up to join the proposed European Super League last Sunday, all hell let loose.
You could hardly move without being bombarded with furious reactions from politicians, leagues, fans – and clubs left outside this exclusive ESL party.
What irked many the most, apart from the secretive way the whole thing was cooked up, was that there was no sporting merit behind it.
Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham would be handed places as founding members and not be subject to the possibility of relegation.
It would largely have been a closed shop at the summit of European football and would have potentially left our domestic football as a second-rate alternative.
Thankfully, as the protests grew, the English six realised the error of their ways and withdrew. So, let’s forget about it all then? Everything is rosy in the garden, right?
Well, no, it isn’t. As the EFL have pointed out this week, this is the perfect time to take a wider look at how football in this country operates. There is a huge disparity between the haves and have nots, but every club plays a massive role in their community.
With all the billions of pounds floating around in our game, why can’t more be done to spread the benefits across the board? Can the big boys do more to help? Of course they can. Whether or not they will is another matter.
As for the 14 Premier League teams who opposed the ESL, will they now vote to abolish parachute payments in favour of a more equal distribution of revenue throughout the EFL?
After all, you can hardly wax lyrical about an open pyramid and then bar the door when you’re safely at the summit. The owners of those teams know perfectly well that parachute payments cause disparity and hardship thought the EFL.
The Championship is a division where Swansea can afford to pay Andre Ayew more than Wycombe pay their entire squad and coaching staff.
Where any attempt to compete with the nouveau riche risks the kind of shambolic meltdown that Sheffield Wednesday are currently witnessing.
Where fans of historic giants like Preston are forced to accept grey, plodding mediocrity as a form of success.
Where teams like Rotherham cannot conceive of a world where they might emulate Wimbledon, Swindon or Blackpool and briefly gatecrash the elite.
Because the elite clubs don’t want their party gatecrashed. But instead of being honest about it, they use finance as a barrier of entry.
Can we get more fan-ownership of clubs in English football’s top four divisions? That would be another step in the right direction. The model used by so many in the Bundesliga could form the base of a successful future.
Not everything will work, but now is the perfect time to try to change our game for the better.