‘I won’t renew my season ticket’: six fans on the fightback against the ESL

Guardian readers, Caroline Bannock and Rachel Obordo
·6 min read
<span>Photograph: Paul Childs/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Paul Childs/AFP/Getty Images

Fans of the six English clubs that have agreed to join the European Super League are writing to their MPs, organising protests and threatening not to renew club season tickets if the idea goes ahead. Supporters say they have cancelled memberships and plan to support local, less celebrated teams, away from the Premier League. Six fans told us why they feel so strongly about the Super League and what they are doing to express their dismay.

‘I won’t renew my season ticket if Spurs join the Super League’

Like many, as we edge our way back to normal life after this catastrophic year, the thing I was most looking forward to in 2021 was going back to watch football in the flesh. The quality of the football and the stadium are almost irrelevant – though, of course, we have the best stadium in the world and one of the world’s greatest players in Harry Kane. Football is about belonging, singing, chanting and being silly with thousands of other idiots as much as it is any sporting excellence.

As I type this, it’s season ticket renewal time but I won’t bother if Spurs stay part of the Super League plans. It’s a complete disgrace and all the clubs involved should be ashamed. Supporting Spurs is a grim life sentence – more than 30 years of being the “almost” team, with the last five being particularly tough as we occasionally got within touching distance of true greatness.

That said, I’d rather have another 30 years of winning nothing significant than these grotesque Super League plans reaching fruition. The game needs to change, but any closed-shop competition where the jeopardy is removed needs to be consigned to the dustbin and forgotten quicker than José Mourinho’s low block. Lou Thomas, 40, digital journalist, London, Spurs fan

‘I will be cancelling my sports TV subscriptions’

I had renewed my season ticket before the announcement but I am considering asking to cancel it. I won’t be buying one again though and I will be cancelling my sports TV subscriptions and will start following a non-league team. It breaks my heart but I can’t accept this. It’s not our club anymore. It’s a franchise. My concern is that this is the end of true competition in the Premier League and there won’t be a chance for anyone to break into the closed shop. Teams across England and across Europe will lose all aspiration and hope. It’s the death of football. Steven Hallmark, 46, PR account manager, Warrington, Liverpool fan

‘I’d be very happy to become a regular at Brentford’

If the ESL does end up happening and Chelsea go along with it, I’ll give up my season ticket and stop following them. Though I used to live five minutes from Stamford Bridge, I’m now quite near the new Brentford stadium. I’ve been following Brentford’s progress from League One with interest and I’d be very happy to become a regular there. As far as protest goes, I’ve sent an email to the club website expressing my view, and my intention to not to renew if this plan goes ahead.

My greatest concern is with the women’s team, which I’ve come to follow very enthusiastically over the past eight years and from which I would say I get more all-round enjoyment than from following the men. If Chelsea Women are dragged into a version of the Super League there would be no point watching them either, but I find it very difficult to believe the players and manager would stand for that. We’ll have to wait and see whether any kind of stand is taken, but I’d be happy to be extremely vocal in my support of it. James Treadwell, 52, writer, south west London, Chelsea fan

‘I’ve emailed my MP hoping the government can step in’

If the plan goes through, and Arsenal are in a Super League of any description, I won’t be supporting the club from next season. I’ll try and develop some affinity with another club, and once I’ve left university, I’ll probably attach myself to a non-league club wherever I end up living. I’ve emailed my MP, hoping that the government can step in, although my faith isn’t too strong on that one.

I feel humiliated. This is a bare-faced dismissal of every fan that has given even a penny in ticket money or in buying a shirt to these clubs, in favour of potential fans. I’ve never been able to consistently go to matches and who knows if I’ll be able to afford the TV packages to watch top-level football once I move out of my parents’ house.

Arsenal have played me and many others for fools, and they’ve done so on the pretence that they’re the ones suffering from the economic impact of the pandemic. They’re not. Joel Butcher, 21, student, south-east London, Arsenal fan

‘I have cancelled my membership’

I have been going to Old Trafford two or three times a season since I was 13 – always on my own. I recently became a dad for the first time and had the now silly idea that one day I’d take my daughter to see United. I’ve cancelled my membership of the club and the direct debit that would have paid for next season’s membership, and asked them to take me off all their communication databases.

I have emailed to tell them how disgusted I am and that I will never go to another game at Old Trafford while the Glazers are in charge. I’m also going through each of the club’s sponsors telling them I will boycott their products if they continue to associate themselves with a Glazer-owned Manchester United. This all feels like nothing much, but it’s all I can do.

I will continue to watch football on TV, but will not subscribe to any service that shows the Super League. I’m concerned about the death of not only my football club but also, the nature of competitive football in England and Europe. Russell George, 47, works in academic publishing, London, Man United fan

‘I will be at the ground on Saturday to demonstrate’

I will be at the ground on Saturday at 3pm to join my fellow City fans to demonstrate my opposition to this terrible proposal for European football. If we continue on this path I will not be renewing my season ticket or financially supporting any aspect of the club’s future operations.

I have struggled with the human rights record of our owners ever since the takeover but have always balanced that against the very real and effective investment in east Manchester and wider community causes. At one stage I worked closely with City in the community on a range of health and wellbeing schemes which addressed inequalities and supported vulnerable individuals and communities through the brand and appeal of sport and City.

This brand recognition has now been betrayed and has turned its back on those very communities that benefitted from the rise of my club as a power for good. I may be classed as a “legacy fan” but without my generation there wouldn’t be a Manchester City to propel into this league. I will not be there to introduce any grandkids to following City and that upsets me greatly. Ged Devereux, 58, works for Public Health England, Chorlton, Manchester City fan