European Super League would have impacted Harrogate Town had it gone ahead, insists Irving Weaver

Harrogate Town chairman Irving Weaver admitted he was pleased by the spectacular disintegration of plans to form a breakaway European Super League (ESL).

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 6:54 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 6:58 am
Harrogate Town chairman Irving Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The withdrawal of all six of the Premier League clubs involved in controversial negotiations to launch a 12-team competition that would have fundamentally altered the footballing landscape on these shores and beyond left the project in tatters on Wednesday morning.

Had Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur gone ahead and signed up to the ESL, then there was a very real possibility that they would have been kicked out of English football’s top-flight.

And, as far as Weaver was concerned, there would undoubtedly have been significant financial implications for clubs further down the pyramid if that scenario had played out.

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Chelsea supporters protest against the prospect of their club joining the European Super League.

“I was quite concerned about where football was going,” he told the Harrogate Advertiser.

“It was 24 hours of worry. If those six clubs went from the Premier League then there’s a knock-on effect. It all drips down and if there was less TV money coming in at the top because the biggest clubs were banned from competing in the top flight, then what would happen to the solidarity payment from the Premier League which is so vital to the survival of League One and League Two clubs?

“If those six teams go then a lot of the television revenue would follow, so protecting that status quo was crucial. The ramifications would have been huge.

“If that cut had come quickly, you’ve got to worry about all the lower league clubs who are currently structured as they are and relying on the finances that are passed down.

“Take that agreement away and it’s obvious that the likes of Harrogate Town would be affected.”

Plans for the ESL were met by widespread outrage across England and beyond when they were revealed earlier this week, and Weaver shares many of the concerns that have been voiced by supporters, players, managers, journalists, pundits and politicians alike.

“I think I am pretty traditional in terms of valuing honesty and integrity and I was pretty shocked when the news broke, but then so was the rest of the football world,” he added.

“Clandestine agreements break faith, so the ramifications that these clubs have suffered was, in my opinion, well deserved.

“How can you have a system dominated by American owners and owners from other countries changing the course of the English leagues that have been in existence for over a century?

“And, like Pep Guardiola said, how can you have a competition with no promotion and relegation when success and jeopardy are the heart and soul of the game?

“But, the idea has been killed at birth and that is a good result in the end.”