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Would the 50+1 rule work in the Premier League after the ESL fiasco?

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24th April, 2021

To say it was a tumultuous week of football is the biggest understatement anyone who is interested in the game can make.

The announcement of the European Super League, UEFA plans on hold about the new champions league format, Jose Mourinho being sacked by Tottenham, anger from commentators and fans on social media, protests from fans, pulling out of the European Super League, Ed Woodward being sacked, Tottenham rebounding with Ryan Mason and Everton winning at Arsenal for the first time in 25 years. And that’s only what made the headlines!

The news last week about the creation (and abolishment) of the European Super League shook the very foundation of the game. No matter how much I read into it, as I’m sure others have too, certain words keep flashing into my head: greed, money, disrespect, no understanding of tradition, corporate elites. The way this was communicated to the media was completely disrespectful to all the purists.

Funny how things turned out afterwards when all the owners and respective individuals all released statements apologising for not consulting the fans. The first lesson in stupidity right there.

As the week read on and I kept updating myself on developing events, I read an article about how Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – the two largest clubs in Germany – would not go ahead and join the breakaway super league competition all because both clubs are majority-owned by the fans.

There is a rule in the Bundesliga stating that club foreign ownership is capped at 49 per cent and the remaining 51 per cent stays in the hands of the club and/or fans. There have been some minor expectations to this rule in the past, but generally, all teams within the German Bundesliga and lower divisions follow this model. I then went and looked at who actually owned the 12 rogue clubs who wanted to pursue the European Super League:

Arsenal: Kroenke Sports and Entertainment
Chelsea: Roman Abramovich
Liverpool: Fenway Sports Group
Manchester United: Glazer Family
Manchester City: City Football Group
Tottenham: ENIC

Serie A
Juventus: Agnelli Family
AC Milan: Elliot Management Corporation
Inter Milan: Suning Holdings Group and LionRock

Juventus' president Andrea Agnelli with Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus’ president Andrea Agnelli is one of the major architects of the European Super League. (Photo by Daniele Badolato – Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images)


La Liga
Athletic Madrid: Angel Gil Marin, Idan Ofer and Enrique Cerezo
Barcelona: Registered association (club and fan-operated)
Real Madrid: Registered association (club and fan-operated)

Of the 12 that were wanting to join the Super League, only two were owned or run in-house – Real Madrid and Barcelona. We now know that their participation was more to help pay off their large financial debts that have been worsening over the years, not something that you would want to hear as a fan. The whole concept of the Super League based on an American NFL/NBA style of competition was never going to get off the ground with the fanbases of most clubs.

Did they honestly think they would change the entire landscape of European football? Once they realised the game was up, the club statements and the apologies, especially by the Glazers and the John W Henry public apology were absolutely pathetic. I found they had no remorse whatsoever.

Focusing more on the Premier League, it started to make me wonder if the 50+1 rule would work in English football. Listening to various opinions both here and within the UK, you have a number of people for this idea and those who are against it. It then made me think – if we didn’t have the money that was brought in with the likes of Sheikh Mansour, John W Henry, the Glazers and Roman Abramovich, would the Premier League be at its current level without the investment brought in by these billionaires? It’s an honest question and one that I’ve struggled with.

As fans, we were happy (except for the whole Glazer takeover) to have these billionaires splash cash on the best players and hire the best managers. Would we have seen the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho or Antonio Conte within the league? Would we have seen the likes of Sergio Aguero, Mohammed Saleh or Paul Pogba play with passion and win the silverware the fans are yearning for?


Then I started thinking about the teams in the lower divisions where a number of them are owned by wealthy individuals but live within the geographic location of the team. How would this rule affect them and the current owners if a model such as this was to proceed?

I suppose the next part of this journey is murky going forward. The clubs pretty much shot themselves in the foot with the way they decided to go public with their future intentions by basically wanting to fill their greedy pockets. The likes of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher should be commended for the action they have taken in getting the public’s attention to this matter of how the clubs are run. Although things have calmed down for now, I fear that this is the start of a massive civil war within football that will continue into the future and might change the game as we know it.

What do you think? Do you see the 50+1 rule ever getting off the ground in the Premier League?