Fed-up fans protest outside Stamford Bridge over Super League proposals

Helen William, PA
·5-min read

Fed-up football fans have protested in west London to show their fury at the proposed European Super League.

Supporters from different clubs put rivalry aside to demonstrate outside Chelsea FC’s home ground Stamford Bridge.

They branded the move – which would include the English “big six” clubs – as damaging, greedy, money-driven and “ripping the heart out of football”.

SOCCER European
(PA Graphics)

Lifelong Manchester City fan Zac Bookbinder, 16, the nephew of a Youth Cup winner, joined his friend Gabriel McManus, 17.

He said: “Manchester City is in my blood, my uncle played for City and everyone in my family is a City fan.

“I don’t want us to be in this elite league, I would rather us be in League Two. It is a shambles. It is elitist.”

He said he used to “love Man City, but now I am feel like I am turning on them because they are ruining our legacy”.

His uncle John Bookbinder scored a stunning goal to seal a 2-1 victory in the seven-a-side youth team curtain raiser to City’s 5-4 defeat to Chelsea in the 1986 Full Members Cup final.

Chelsea v Brighton and Hove Albion – Premier League – Stamford Bridge
Fans protest against Chelsea’s involvement in the new European Super League (Ian West/PA)

The Watford teenagers held homemade banners which read “RIP Football 1863-2021”, “Players Managers Speak Out” and “Cancel Super League”.

Mr McManus said: “It is just the top six (club) owners who are trying to take football away and put it into one big Super League.

“The fans who work hard every single week to try and support their teams are being taken out of this.

“The history of every single club in the top flight, which has had years and years of players who have served them, is being taken away. It is all being taken away for money. It is just pure greed and nothing else. It is disgusting.”

The Chelsea fan said of his club: “I woke up this morning and thought `this just cannot be real’. For them to do this to the fans just does not feel real.”

The scheme has been put forward by Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, together with six leading Spanish and Italian clubs.

Fans outside the stadium gates began chanting “f*** the Super League”, and singing “Roman you will not know how much we love you until you take our Chelsea away”.

They also shouted the words “we want our Chelsea back” and “you know what you are”.

One man wearing a Chelsea shirt also beat his chest in anger in front of the press and said “we matter”.

Chelsea v Brighton and Hove Albion – Premier League – Stamford Bridge
Fans protest against outside Stamford Bridge (Ian West/PA)

Chelsea fan Danny Bedford, 48, said the club’s decision to join the European Super League would “ruin years of history”.

The security worker said: “I think it is an absolute joke and just another way they can make money out of the fans and ruin 116 years of history at Chelsea Football Club.”

He suggested that it is not good for football because the top six teams are now being threatened with being kicked out of the league, their players are being threatened with being banned from competing for their countries while their squads are being told they will not be able to play in elite tournaments.

He said: “It is literally ripping the heart out of football and out of the fans.

“Chelsea is the heart and soul of this community.

“Businesses depend on the fans coming here every single week and spending thousands and thousands of pounds, (and it is) all for fat cat bureaucrats inside these stadiums to rip that all away.”

Drivers hooted their car horns in support while passers-by stopped to ask questions and congratulate south London schoolfriends George Cooper, Tyreese Oninku, Harry Beckham, all aged 17, plus Charlie Wood, 16, on their protest.

The Croydon teenagers had spray painted the words “RIP 1863 Football Fans 2021” on a bedsheet which they held as a banner.

The word “fans” was crossed out on their banner.

West Ham fan Mr Cooper, a 17 year-old home carer, said: “My team are outside the top six but this is not about rivalry – this is about the future of football.

“There are supporters from different clubs here because we are all united in thinking this is wrong.”

He said “it will change the nature of top competition right up to the World Cup”.

Chelsea v Brighton and Hove Albion – Premier League – Stamford Bridge
Fans protest against Chelsea’s involvement in the new European Super League (Ian West/PA)

Arsenal fan Mr Oninku said: “I watch football because I love the competitive nature of the game and it should not be up to the big clubs to try and change any of that.

“They are also ruining the dreams of players and even young children who one day hope to play in the World Cup.

“It is not the players’ fault. It is the owners’ fault who are selling out with this idea of a Super League.”

Crystal Palace supporter Mr Beckham said: “It is bad. It is greedy. They are not thinking about the fans. They are not thinking about the players. They are just draining the game and treating it like a business.”

Mr Wood said he was “ashamed” of his team Chelsea for their part in the plans, adding: “I was quite upset when I heard this news. They are just doing it for the money and not for the good of the game.”

Builder John Lambie, 57, who has been a Tottenham fan since he was allowed to go to games at the age of 14, said the proposed European Super League is “just about money”.

Mr Lambie, of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, said: “They haven’t even talked to the fans about this. It is all money orientated and it is not just Spurs, it is across the board.

“None of them have spoken to their fan base and they need to do a lot more talking before they make up their minds.

“I do not like it.

Maintenance worker Chris Hayes, 50, of Hatfield, Hertfordshire, said: “It is all based on greed. The lower league rely on the revenue and and it seems like they are going to suffer from these guys thinking they are better than everyone else.

“It is all about money and greed – those who have it just want more.”