Former Republic of Ireland legend John Giles criticised the owners of the Super League clubs for not knowing the history of England's football clubs and culture.
Giles, now 80, moved over to Manchester in 1956 to play for Manchester United, at the age of 17. Giles went on to have an outstanding career for Leeds United throughout the 1960s and '70s.
Giles spoke to Nathan Murphy on Off The Ball on Thursday, and seemed up in arms at the audacity of the Super League owners' conduct and handling of the proposal.
“How they think that amongst themselves they could push this through is unbelievable. It was never going to happen and how they thought it would, is beyond me,” Giles says.
“They have no respect for the supporters. And they don’t know the history of the supporters. They don’t see how it’s life and death to a lot of fans. Not just to the big clubs like Liverpool or Manchester United, but all over England,"
“It just showed how greedy they were. They didn’t care! They were still going to do it because it makes them more money. That’s all they were bothered about. They had no respect for the supporters." says Giles.
Knowing the history
Football culture in England was largely dependent on fan culture, Giles explains. Another disregard illustrated in the past few days.
Having seen it all, Giles was unimpressed with the owners' lack of knowledge of clubs' origins – highlighting his former club Manchester United and the Glazers as an example.
“When I was at Manchester United as a young lad, I was amazed at the passion and the real interest in their team. In America, that’s not the case. If you’re going to own a club like the Glazers own Man United, they should know this,"
"There was no televisions back then. Manchester United didn’t even have floodlights. But they were getting 65,000 people at the match every week. That was their main source of income. And what about the fathers, the grandfathers, the great-fathers who made these clubs? There were no owners of these clubs. It was the supporters that kept them going financially.” Giles explains.
"They should find out. And to go ahead and do what they did – It was never going to happen! And they got their comeuppance that’s for sure.” Giles says.
The response from players to the Super League was no surprise, Giles says. In the past year, players have demonstrated their voice matters – speaking out about racism, taking the knee and taking a wage cut during the pandemic.
“They picked on the wrong people. They are [the players] the most important people in the club. But they [the owners] didn’t see it that way,” Giles says.
Player welfare has certainly come a long way since the '60s. Giles feels their financial well-being has translated to one of social capital.
“The players are not subservient now as they were in my day. They wouldn’t have been as financially secure in their job to take sides in the way that they did. And it’s great for the game that they have a voice!" says Giles.
“Player from my generation, love football, play football and didn’t care for much else. So they wouldn’t have the independence and the voice that players have that Henderson and others have today. Good luck to them! These are they can do it, I love to see it !” Giles concluded.
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