Tuesday 20 April 2021

The Super League's Own Goal

I don't pay football much mind, so you might say I know sweet FA about it. But I do know about capitalism, and plans to form a break away European super league is a salutary reminder of one of its most destructive tendencies: the undermining of its own basis. The decision of billionaire-owned clubs to set up their hermetically-sealed league has provoked a massive outcry, with even the Tories briefing their preparedness to take Corbyn-flavoured action against the teams. Former England captain Alan Shearer bluntly told BBC Breakfast that the six English clubs concerned - Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool - should be expelled from the Premier League, and Gary Neville, not a name one would normally find in militant circles, has called for the billionaires to be booted out of the game.

One of my comrades who follows men's footy has often said England's sub-par performance on the pitch is because the national side fields a team of millionaires for whom there is no consequence nor incentive to do well. What the new super league promises is the formal institutionalisation of this dreary state of affairs. The league is not a response to grassroots enthusiasm or competitive pressure, except to say it's an attempt to generate a new round of broadcast rights and sponsorship deals which won't be shared with other top flight teams. The billionaires who see their clubs as nothing but cash cows arrogantly assume the mass audiences for European football in Africa, the Arab world, and East Asia - the key emerging markets - will still be interested even if domestic fans desert the clubs.

Your Glazers, Kroenkes, and Abramovichs might think the punters don't care, but this misrecognises the appeal of not just footy but sport generally. The action of a game or match is just part of it. The excitement lies in the fundamental uncertainty, of the risk of failure and the fickle play of luck and chance. Even sports entertainment that is totally pre-packaged and scripted, like wrestling, relies on contrivances that make it appear as if no bout is a foregone conclusion - even though the audiences themselves are in on the fix. Wining and losing have consequences: trophies and titles are always aspirational, but the struggle to maintain one's standing in the rankings is the meat and gravy of football. Games might always be games, but it's the stakes invested in them that matter, which probably helps explain why friendly matches never generate as much of a buzz. The super league might have its own title, but there is no price for failure. Coming at the bottom of the league does not mean relegation, nor are there any routes into the league. It is entirely closed up, a hermetically sealed panic room insulating self-styled elite clubs from the competition. This is nothing other than an attempt at an oligopoly.

On paper, capitalism is based on a free market where firms compete with one another for sales and customers. In practice, businesses are parasitic structures whose drive to accumulate demands certainty. This conditions the authoritarianism if not despotism within the firm itself as it struggles to control all the factors under its purview, and its relationship with similar firms and the state tend toward softening the edges of competition and creating a more benign environment for its operation. The impulse toward certainty means where capital invests in activities left up to chance, like sport, we see huge investments in training and coaching, facilities and marketing, and the splashing out on star players to give their property a competitive edge and a greater guarantee of the profits. But inevitably, the fabric of the game suffers from this ingress. The relentless pressure for results can demotivate players, while around the edges efforts are made to rig the system to keep the profits flowing. The super league is one such strategy, an attempt to guarantee profits for the billionaires while removing the threat of consequence.

Naturally, no one is forcing our billionaires to do this. The super league is not the sum total of Europe's top flight clubs. But we see similar behaviour time and again, of the personifications of capital undermining the basis of their own system. Whether it was the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition sucking demand out of the economy with their programme of public sector cuts, causing the recovery from the 2008 crash to take longer than was necessary. Or hip-happening neighbourhoods emptying of residents as holiday let businesses market them on the basis of the dynamic and captivating local culture an destroying the original attraction in the process, or indeed capital's search for profits undermining the basis of life on this planet with climate change, deforestation, and mass extinction. Money grubbing has long threatened the people's game, and will continue to do so even if the super league is seen off.

Image Credit


Boffy said...

Reactionary, nationalistic nonsense.

The creation of a European Super league is inevitable and way overdue. The rational basis for a football league is Europe not England, Scotland, France or other nation states. Football is a business, and like all businesses, the natural tendency is to increased scale, and a concentration and centralisation of capital.

The vast majority of football fans only ever get to see the teams they support on TV. There are at least 100 million Chinese fans of Man. Utd who can only see it play by that means, and those fans deserve to see them play against the best teams in Europe on a regular basis, not just occasionally, whilst the only regular matches are with mediocre teams like Stoke.

And, if you want to reduce the role of billionaire single owners, this is the way to do it. The reason supporter owned clubs like Barcelona, and Real Madrid have signed up to the Super League is that, it will provide larger sums of money from media rights, which enables them to get the revenues required that a supporter owned club could not mobilise otherwise to compete against the financial muscle of billionaire owners.

The proposals to try to prevent it are just another example of the reactionary authoritarian nature of the Tory regime, and Starmer's backing of Johnson is no surprise. Its gone from nationalism to local parochialism in one leap. No wonder the NIP think they are on to a winner.

And suggesting that players would not be allowed to play for England is laughable given England's performances. Cutting your nose off to spite your face, by excluding the best players, however, seems typical of the people who brought us the greatest recent example of such behaviour with Brexit!

Phil said...

Right wing accelerationism in Marxist verbiage. Not the kind of position from which to lecture anyone on what is and isn't reactionary.

Unknown said...

I struggle to believe Boffy understand a single thing about football from that diatribe.

Anonymous said...


You're arguing that the ability of the owners to do whatever they want with a football club is somehow progressive and internationalist? What it really is, is the culmination of the decades-long process of severing FCs from their roots and turning them into just another essentially interchangeable brand like Nike/Reebok/Adidas/etc.

PS: all the English clubs have already "signalled their intention to withdraw", while those in Spain and Italy are facing similar levels of opposition. So the 'Super League" probably has about as much of a future as 'Change UK'.


You might as well expect a dog not to bark as ask Boffy not to indulge in "Marxist verbiage" to justify whatever position he chooses to take on any given issue.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Boffey.
But I NEVER agree with Boffey!

Boffy said...

There is nothing right-wing about seeking to accelerate the development of capital, and the consequent heightening of its contradictions leading more rapidly to socialism. The fact you seem not to understand that illustrates the reactionary nature of the positions you frequently adopt, which have more in common with Sismondism than Marxism.

Boffy said...

"You're arguing that the ability of the owners to do whatever they want with a football club is somehow progressive and internationalist?"

No what I am arguing is that the process of concentration and centralisation of capital, and its bursting out of the fetters imposed by the nation state is progressive and internationalist, as Marx describes in Capital III and elsewhere.

The fact that such a league offers the potential for clubs to be owned by their own workers and players, as with a worker owned cooperative or by their supporters, as with a consumer cooperative, because it means that the revenues from TV etc, will be of a magnitude that can outweigh the sums that currently only billionaire owners can provide, is itself an indication of how that creates conditions for a more developed form of ownership and control.

Given that there has been such opposition by states, and others seeking to impose their own reactionary restrictions on development is not new. That those moves are indeed reactionary is not changed by whether they are effective in preventing the creation of such a league or not. The imposition of tariffs and other trade restriction in the 1930's was reactionary and worsened the global economic slump, the fact that governments still introduced those restrictions didn't mean that they somehow become progressive.

Whether they succeed in preventing the development of this league for now, or not also does not change the fact that it is consonant with the laws of economic and social development outlined by Marx, and so its establishment sooner or later, in one form or another is equally likely, indeed inevitable, just as monopoly arises inevitably out of competition. The development of a European single market, and European state also flows inevitably from those laws, which led to the creation of the EU, and inevitably leads to its further political concentration and centralisation. The fact that Britain in accordance with a reactionary policy via Brexit doe not change that fact, and the onward march of history. It simply means that Britain has temporarily put itself outside of it, and will consequently suffer the effects of having done so.

Boffy said...

As Lenin put it,

"That is why Marxists, if they were asked whether such measures should be adopted, would, of course, answer: they should—but would thereupon explain their attitude in general to the capitalist system that is improved by these measures, would motivate their agreement by their desire to speed up the development of this system, and, consequently its downfall." (The Economic Content of Narodism, p 370)

CCCAC said...

The committee wish to thanks all those involved in this intense class struggle.

The committee reiterates its will to purge all American Cultural values and influence from Europe.

This is a great victory in the battle against American culture, and the wider battle against globalised monopolised capitalism.

But this is a small victory against a destructive, poisonous, corrupt and criminal enemy. And the long awaited awakening of class consciousness exhibited by this struggle should be the first milestone in the ultimate victory.

The committee is not surprised that Boffy should take the side of the globalised monopolistic elite interests, it is consistent with his idiotic 'progressivism'. This is why Boffy is such an ardent pro imperialist. The committee have warned comrades about this charlatan for years now.

Signed the Chairman of the Committee for the Campaign against American Culture.

BCFG said...

Boffy providing quotes from Lenin to justify his support for the global 1%, this is idiocy on a number of levels. Boffy speaking about football reminds me of David Cameron talking about football, a complete charlatan who knows nothing about the subject he is talking about. Boffy showed all these dumb fuck qualities in relation to COVID and this is just another example of his high idiocy.

Let us ignore the demented idea that the Super League is a stepping stone for workers to own these 15 clubs (not sure what it would mean for the 20,000 other clubs!), but even economically this is a dumb fuck idea (no wonder Boffy likes it!). It won’t lead to further concentration and capitalisation but would in fact blow the whole thing apart. It should be further noted that the best examples of supporter owned clubs are to be found outside the globally richest clubs.

On every level, Boffy is a colossal dumb fuck.

Boffy said...

The troll has posted two successive comments one using his CAAC persona the next his BCFG persona. He could next follow up in similar vein his reactionary argument by posting using his Sentinel persona, giving us the BNP's same nationalistic agenda.

Other than the fact that he's a troll with no views on anything other than his attempts to provoke a response, his position itself should be a good indication to any principled socialist that opposition to the ESL, like opposition to the development of capitalism, and globalisation is the position of rank reactionaries.

As Lenin put it,

"And from these principles it follows that the idea of seeking salvation for the working class in anything save the further development of capitalism is reactionary. In countries like Russia, the working class suffers not so much from capitalism as from the insufficient development of capitalism. The working class is therefore decidedly interested in the broadest, freest and most rapid development of capitalism. The removal of all the remnants of the old order which are hampering the broad, free and rapid development of capitalism is of decided advantage to the working class.”

Anonymous said...

What a miserable wretch of a human being Boffy is, viewing everything through this cash nexus/accumulation lens. As if forming a super league of elite clubs can be put under the category of development.

Boffy's road always leads to a servile apology of the ruling elite, and when challenged he can only quote Lenin, completely irrelevantly and with no application to the actual issue at hand.

Dogma doesn't even begin to describe this miserable wretch's methods.

BCFG said...

If Lenin believes that the formation of a European Super League by 15 clubs somehow represents the advancement of the Labour movement and its interests then my advice to him is to stay in exile in Finland and not bother catching the train.

The movement can well do without your 'wisdom' thanks.

DFTM said...

Boffy misunderstands Lenin’s arguments, for one thing Lenin argued that the full ‘development ‘of capitalism is the only thing that will awaken the producers consciousness, as Lenins states:

“Bourgeoisdom is a fact of actual life, labour is subordinated to capital in agriculture too, and what is to be “feared” is not bourgeoisdom, but the producer’s lack of consciousness of this bourgeoisdom, his inability to defend his interests against it.”

And when the proletariat react against this bourgeoisdom, what does Boffy do, he decries it and quotes Lenin!

What Boffy says is this:
“Bourgeoisdom is a fact of actual life, labour is subordinated to capital in agriculture too, and this is a good thing and will eventually, at some as yet unspecified point, lead to the salvation of the producers, as long as they remain passive docile idiots and don’t react against this Bourgeoisdom”

Boffy, of course, being a dogmatist and not having an ounce of the Marxist method in his being, relates to Lenin in a purely uncritical manner, at least when he needs to drop snippets of text from Lenins theoretical works. Boffy has such disdain for people that he thinks simply dropping a quote from Lenin will suffice to convince us that his argument is won.

But looking at lenin at little more critically we can say a few things, firstly Lenin was speaking about Russia in 1904, a very different place to England in 2021. But that is the minor point, the more fundamental point is what Lenin means by the development of capitalism, and here with a closer reading of Lenin’s argument we can see that what he meant by the further development of capitalism was the actual development of bourgeois democracy to the fullest possible state. As Lenin says:

“It is of greater advantage to the bourgeoisie if the necessary changes in the direction of bourgeois democracy take place more slowly, more gradually, more cautiously, less resolutely, by means of reforms and not by means of revolution; if these changes spare the “venerable” institutions of serfdom (such as the monarchy) as much as possible; if these changes develop as little as possible the independent revolutionary activity, initiative and energy of the common people ...The bourgeoisie looks backward, fearing democratic progress, which threatens to strengthen the proletariat. The proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains, but with the aid of democracy it has the whole world to gain. That is why the more consistent the bourgeois revolution is in achieving its democratic changes, the less will it limit itself to what is of advantage exclusively to the bourgeoisie. The more consistent the bourgeois revolution, the more does it guarantee the proletariat and the peasantry the benefits accruing from the democratic revolution.”

So for Lenin it is clear, capitalist development is related to the increase of bourgeois democracy, and is something the proletariat carry through and not the bourgeois. Lenin points out repeatedly that the bourgeois try to retard this development.

But Boffy, who wouldn’t know a critical close reading if it bit him on the ass, turns this on its head and claims it is the bourgeois themselves who push forward this democratic development and we, the proletariat, should just let them get on with it and be thankful.

Anyone who believes the European Super League is development of capitalist bourgeois democracy, in the manner Lenin meant, is deranged and delusional.

Boffy said...

So, the troll having provided two successive comments using his different persona of CAAC, and BCFG, instead of also giving us the benefit of the same reactionary nationalist views by his earlier persona of the Sentinel, instead now gives us three successive reactionary comments using his different persona of Anonymous, BCFG and DFTM!

All equally crass, reactionary and indicative of his lack of understanding of Marxism. The idea that this cretin who in his DFTM persona has given us recently his reactionary views in relation to "wokism" understands anything about Marxism let alone Lenin is laughable, because we all know that all of his 57 varieties of persona are a clear indication of his nature as a troll, with no ideas of his own other than those intended to provoke a response.

The fact that he also resorts to one of the usual methods of the troll in providing supposed quotes of what I say, complete with quotation marks", but which are in actual fact pure fabrications of his own making, and nothing I have ever said, or anything like I have said is a further illustration of the demented nature of this creature.

Boffy said...

For anyone who wants to know what I and Lenin actually say on these issues, rather than the ridiculous fabrications of the troll in his assorted persona read my blog posts on Lenin On Economic Romanticism.

Boffy said...

Lenin again,

"Socialism is inconceivable without large-scale capitalist engineering based on the latest discoveries of modern science. It is inconceivable without planned state organisation, which keeps tens of millions of people to the strictest observance of a unified standard in production and distribution...

At the same time socialism is inconceivable unless the proletariat is the ruler of the state. This also is ABC. And history ... has taken such a peculiar course that it has given birth in 1918 to two unconnected halves of socialism existing side by side like two future chickens in the single shell of international imperialism. In 1918 Germany and Russia have become the most striking embodiment of the material realisation of the economic, the productive and the socio-economic conditions for socialism, on the one hand, and the political conditions, on the other...

At present, petty-bourgeois capitalism prevails in Russia, and it is one and the same road that leads from it to both large-scale state capitalism and to socialism, through one and the same intermediary station called “national accounting and control of production and distribution”. Those who fail to understand this are committing an unpardonable mistake in economics. Either they do not know the facts of life, do not see what actually exists and are unable to look the truth in the face, or they confine themselves to abstractly comparing “capitalism” with “socialism” and fail to study the concrete forms and stages of the transition that is taking place in our country...

“. . . For socialism is merely the next step forward from state-capitalist monopoly.

“. . . State-monopoly capitalism is a complete material preparation for socialism, the threshold of socialism, a rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung called socialism there are no intermediate rungs ”"

Boffy said...

A quote from Trotsky along similar lines.

“Despite all these advantages (enjoyed by the USSR, AB) the industrial reconstruction of the country was begun with the granting of concessions. Lenin accorded great importance to these concessions for the economic development of the country and for the technical and administrative education of Soviet personnel. There has been no socialist revolution in Mexico. The international situation does not even allow for the cancellation of the public debt. The country we repeat is poor. Under such conditions it would be almost suicidal to close the doors to foreign capital. To construct state capitalism, capital is necessary.” (On Mexico's Second Six Year Plan)

Boffy said...

Lenin and Marx and Engels on the progressive nature of capitalist development.

He does not understand that, by replacing the form of exploitation which tied the working man to his locality with one that flings him from place to place all over the country, the “bourgeois trend” has done a good job; that, by replacing the form of exploitation under which the appropriation of the surplus product was tangled up in the personal relations between the exploiter and the producer, in mutual civic political obligations, in the “provision of an allotment,” etc.,—by replacing this with a form of exploitation that substitutes “callous cash payment” for all that and equates labour-power with any other commodity or thing, the “bourgeois trend” strips exploitation of all its obscurities and illusions, and that to do so is a great service.” (Lenin)

Marx and Engels

“In the trusts, free competition changes into monopoly and the planless production of capitalist society capitulates before the planned production of the invading socialist society. Of course, this is initially still to the benefit of the Capitalists”


“... capitalism opens out new views and new hopes. Look at what it has done and is doing in the West.” (Engels to Danielson)

The quotes illustrating that capitalist development is progressive are endless, and equally they attack the petty-bourgeois Sismonidst notion that it is in some way the task of Marxists or the working-class to hold back or turn back that development rather than seeking its rational further development towards Socialism.

DFTM said...

You call me a troll yet you quote a snippet from Lenin, pretend it argues one thing when in actual fact, on closer reading; it argues the exact opposite to what you say!

You trawled through passages from Lenin, in a totally uncritical manner and in an anti scientific way and hoped we are all dumb enough to swallow it. And all to support some servile, sycophantic right wing position you had taken.

In reality, based on the irrelevant passages from Lenin you quoted, the reactionary course is the one you argue and the progressive one is to stop this bourgeois attack on democratic forms.

The fact that you turned this all on its head, twisted and distorted the truth and utterly debased and perverted the argument is simply in keeping with your ultra ultra right idiocy.

Boffy said...

I don't normally respond to anything that the troll says directly, because feeding rolls by engaging in pointless debate with them only encourages them to further idiocy. However, this statement was so ridiculous that its hard not to point it out, and to note just how idiotic it is, which is reflective of the method of trolls.

"... the reactionary course is the one you argue and the progressive one is to stop this bourgeois attack on democratic forms."

So, now we are to believe that the existing English Football League and the clubs within it represents "democratic forms"! That would be the same football league that operates as a huge commercial operation based upon drawing in billions of pounds in commercial fees from media companies and so on. These are the same football clubs who either a) have to rely on billionaires acting as sugar daddies to finance them, and who then rule over them like latter day feudal fiefdoms, or else b) unable to obtain such sponsorship languish in the lower reaches of the league year after year, with no prospect other than by the occasional fluke, to rise above their serf-like status!

These are the same billionaire owned clubs, in which the "fans" so much has been spoken of, are more than happy to see any such billionaire come along and save them, and when any such billionaire might pull out are desperate to see some other come into replace them, including such well known supporters of socialism and democracy as the Saudi rulers such as MBS, who its reported also lobbied Boris Johnson to intervene to oppose the ESL, as he has his own axe to grind in retaining the existing monopoly positions represented by the current ownership forms of English football.

But, then given the troll's support for the reactionary regimes that deny "freedom of speech" and so on, on the basis of their supposed "anti-imperialism", its no wonder he has such a perverted concept of democratic forms, and ends up on the same reactionary side of the argument as them.

For me, I'll stick with the method of analysis of such development set out by Marx, Engels, Lenin and others, and hen looking at democratic forms and fans, I'll look to what the position of clubs that actually are owned and controlled was. In the case of Barcelona, Real Madrid, for example, it was to be at the forefront of proposing the ESL, because they know that given the current levels of debt in football, the revenues that would come from it, are the only way in which actually democratically owned and controlled clubs will ever be able to avoid dependence upon some billionaire, sugar daddy owner.

Boffy said...

Lenin on the limited importance of reforms, as against the fundamental role of material conditions and their developmebt as the basis of revolution.

"Marxists by no means deny that these measures are of some (albeit miserable) benefit they can result in some (albeit miserable) improvement in the working people’s conditions; they speed up the process of extinction of particularly backward forms of capital, usury, bondage, etc., they speed up their transformation into the more modern and humane forms of European capitalism. That is why Marxists, if they were asked whether such measures should be adopted, would, of course, answer: they should—but would thereupon explain their attitude in general to the capitalist system that is improved by these measures, would motivate their agreement by their desire to speed up the development of this system, and, consequently its downfall."

(The economic Content of Nardodism, CW2, p 370)

Boffy said...

The Sismondists, Proudhonists and Narodniks as reactionary petty-bourgeois socialists saw their role as being to oppose the development of capitalism. Marx and Engels opposed such nonsense as far back as the Communist Manifesto, and continued to do so. One of the clearest examples is Marx and Engels comments on why they supported Free Trade as against Protectionism, not because they wanted to be on one side or the other in terms of what was economically beneficial, but on the basis that Free Trade accelerated the development of capitalism and its contradictions, and so led forward more quickly to Socialism. The "anti-capitalists" and "anti-imperialists" simply replicate all of those reactionary concepts of the Sismondists and Narodniks.

When one of the Narodniks wrote about the role of the western European labour movement being to hold back capitalist development, lenin responded.

“This is clear proof that in respect of not only Russia, but also of the West, our Narodniks are incapable of understanding how one can fight capitalism by speeding up its development, and not by “holding it up,” not by pulling it back, but by pushing it forward, not in reactionary, but in progressive fashion.”

(The Economic Content of Narodism, CW2, p 353)

DFTM said...

This started out as funny, turned into parody, then farce, and is now just grim.

I think you need treatment Boffy.

Anonymous said...


Firsty, to be clear, I'm not your weird internet stalker/nemesis. That's someone else.

Secondly, do you honestly not see anything a bit odd about referring to Lenin, Trotsky, Narodniks, etc in relation to the 'super-league'? Can you not express an opinion on ANY subject concisely and without resorting to comparisons to the politics of the Russian revolution?

Marxism is not a religion, but you write as if you're referring to scripture

DFTM said...


to answer your question no he doesn't see anything strange, and moreover every single idiocy that spews forth from Boffy is related to this.

Boffy's insane ideas on Covid all spring from his uncritical misreading of Lenin, Trotsky, Marx etc. He servile pro imperialism all springs from this idiocy.

We have not caught Boffy on a bad day with his super league nonsense, this is simply Boffy applying his 'logic' to this subject.

But every subject Boffy ever speaks about is based on the logic displayed here.

We should all be the nemesis of this high level stupidity.

Boffy said...

The troll spews forth his idiocy and ignorance once more. Now, he is once again talking to himself via his limitless range of alter egos, which are themselves an indication of his nature as a troll, rather than anyone with any particular set of ideas of their own. You, Sentinel/BCFG/DFTM/CAAC,Anonymous/Socialism In One Bedroom/Kamo/Dave/Brian B/Chris and all the other 57 varieties of persona competing for attention in your head do see yourself as that nemesis, because you are clearly a sick deluded individual.

Do you not realise that everyone knows that, and that with every moronic statement you make you simply undermine the very object you have set for yourself, of trying to provoke a response, and pointless debate intended only for your own sick entertainment?

DFTM said...

I haven't been on this site for about 2 months.

Have not commented on any topic for ages, so wtf are you on about?

I am simply disagreeing with your position and exposing your idiocy.
I am not doing this for sick entertainment.

What you are doing is trying to deflect the topic from your own ineptness, and trying to deflect the fact that I have pointed out how your uncritical reading of Marx, Engels, Lenin etc leads you to this idiotic ultra ultra right nonsense.

You have been exposed for all to see and now the toys are out of the pram.

And BTW I have never been this sentinel character, this is a figment of your imagination. Show those IP addresses as your sock puppet carty requested.