07:00PM, Monday 26 April 2021
Neil Baker believes it’s possible that some fans will turn their back on the top level of football in the aftermath of clubs’ failed attempt to create a new European Super League. But to what extent that happens, or how much of a benefit it would be to non-league clubs like Slough Town he isn’t sure.
There was anger, resentment, sadness shock and disillusionment shown by fans across the game this week when Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham – the so called ‘big six’ - threatened to join some of the other giants of European football in a closed shop super league.
Its creation threatened the future of the Premier League, as well as the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, but the proposal - which had buy-in from 12 clubs - crumbled away as quickly as it materialised due to overwhelming opposition from supporters, managers, players, sponsors. The backlash united pretty much everyone involved in the game and prompted some grovelling apologies from clubs and their sheepish owners this week.
The impact of such a move is likely to be felt far and wide, non-league football included, with Baker believing the sour taste left in supporters’ mouths by the episode could encourage them to look further down the pyramid for their football fix.
“I think more and more people are tuning into what happens in the upper echelons of football,” he said. “They realise it’s all about money. It’s not about the clubs or the fans and people are starting to switch onto that.
“I know they’ve pulled out of the super league, but it will still have left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths.
“Over the years I’ve seen more and more people becoming disillusioned with football at the top level and they’ve got into non-league football off the back of that.
“It could be a positive (for non-league football), but there’s so much unknown right now, whether that’s the Championship, League 1 the National League.
“I don’t think we’ll know where we are until we get back (to normality).
“New habits may come into play and you’ve got to remember that fans haven’t been at football for well over a year now.
“People do form new habits, but there could also be more people who do fancy going to watch football and being with their family.
“I think there’s so much uncertainty. I can only see the fallout (from the ESL bid) being positive for non-league football but by how much I don’t know.”
The race to get as many people vaccinated against coronavirus has ramped up in the Royal Borough and Slough amidst an ongoing rise in cases across the country.