It was rather apt that plans for the European Super League were revealed on the sixth anniversary of Reading’s FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal.
That game epitomised everything good about football’s values of fair competition and equal opportunity. Unfancied and unfashionable underdogs going toe-to-toe with one of the country’s best teams – who were at that point second in the Premier League – and taking them all the way to extra time.
Pavel Pogrebnyak against World Cup winner Per Mertesacker. Alex Pearce against the South American flair of Alexis Sanchez. These should have been mismatches, but on that sunny day in the capital they were equals.
Just getting to the semi-final was incredible and a once in a generation feeling as a supporter. Sure, Reading may not have played any Premier League opposition in their run to Wembley, but it was only their second ever appearance at that stage and first for 87 years.
Teams who place 19th in the second tier are not ‘meant’ to get to the last four of major cup competitions. But the fact that they can and they do is what makes football so unpredictable and compelling.
In that same season alone in the FA Cup, League Two Cambridge United took Manchester United to a replay.
League One Bradford City beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Manchester City were defeated at home by Middlesbrough of the Championship. Giant-killings that give fans of every smaller team belief that anything is possible.
It is that belief that any Super League threatens to kill, along with the ideals of integrity and sporting merit. A closed shop for clubs who think that money should equal success and that no one else should have a shot a glory.
Make no mistake: the teams involved would be doing it for the good of no one else but themselves, their own self-importance and the greed of their owners.
Watching these dishonourable owners announce their money-making plans and then sheepishly backtrack over the last few days has reminded me how lucky Reading were to have Sir John Madejski at the helm for over 20 years.
A man who not only had genuine love and care for the team, but who looked out for the town and the community as well.
One of Madejski’s last acts at the club was his contribution to promotion to the Premier League in 2011/12. That promotion was soundtracked by ‘The Impossible Dream’ by Andy Williams.
That is what football is all about: impossible dreams.
As we have learnt this season, it is the hope that kills you. But it is also the hope that keeps us alive, that keeps us coming back for more and that fuels our love for the game. We watch football and support our team in the hope that anything can happen.
That’s why I am proud to support Reading. They allow me to dream. They allow me that release every Saturday or Tuesday to let my emotions get the better of me.
We need that in our lives. We certainly don’t need a European Super League.
By Olly Allen