To say it has been an intriguing week in European football would be to do the madness that has taken place a real disservice. The rise and fall of the European Super League took less than half a week. Already, the main players are pointing fingers, absolving themselves of blame, and looking to put the blame on others – including UEFA. Interestingly, though, even Leeds United were drawn into the debate as the ‘dirty dozen’ tried to row back from a PR disaster.
While some might argue that anyone who isn’t on the good books of Real Madrid supremo Florentino Perez might be doing something right, the fact Leeds were a target for his ire says something. For one, it shows that Leeds have made pretty incredible strides in recent times; it has been a long time since Leeds were mentioned by anyone at Real Madrid, after all.
As Perez argued that the ESL was a good idea and that it was needed – mainly due to eye-watering debts at the top end of football – he focused on the English opposition to the project. Having seen the two Manchester giants, Liverpool, and London trio Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham all sign-up, their exit came just as swiftly. Mass fan and media, as well as government, backlash seen the whole thing crumble quickly.
Perez, then, decided to aim a broadside at the English game, saying that the mass Chelsea fan protest was staged, even claiming that “I can tell who brought them,” claimed when speaking to El Larguero radio.
What did Perez say?
His main broadside for Leeds, though, was to do with the ‘EARN IT’ t-shirts worn prior to the 1-1 draw with Liverpool. He suggested that “someone gave Cadiz jerseys” – as the Spanish side, who Madrid beat 3-0, wore the same t-shirts as Leeds prior to the match. It is intriguing, then, that Perez appears to believe that this was orchestrated by Leeds and that they handed out the t-shirts to the opponents of key ESL backers.
He also went on to add more detail about why the English teams pulled out so quickly, saying: “There was someone in the English six clubs who did not have much interest,
“That started to affect the others, there was fear. One of the English clubs was never really convinced. There was a campaign, totally manipulated, that we were going to finish the national leagues. That we were ending football, it was terrible. But we were working for football to survive.”
It is also quite interesting, though, that his view of helping ‘football to survive’ is a closed-shop, EuroLeague style competition where there was already disparity in wealth being handed out. Comically, the Madrid supremo also complained that it might limit his team from signing the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland this summer.
We would imagine that both Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund, two clubs who rejected the ESL, will be happy to hear that no bids will be arriving after the public courting of both players from the Spanish capital. Either way, the whole thing has been a farce: to try and implicate Leeds as some form of ringleader in protesting against the ESL is, frankly, ludicrous.
Only one group of football clubs tried to manipulate things in the last week – Leeds aren’t part of that group.