Roy Hodgson believes the fabric of football was “in danger of being torn apart” by the European Super League proposal.
In a tumultuous week, the Premier League’s ‘big six’ announced on Sunday evening their plans to be founder members of a new European Super League.
The backlash from supporters, the game’s governing bodies and even the Government was so negative that, by Tuesday evening, all six clubs – Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea – had withdrawn from the process.
Hodgson, who previously managed two of the clubs involved in the breakaway in Liverpool and Inter Milan, praised the fans who helped bring about the collapse of the proposal.
“It’s part and parcel of our fabric and that fabric was in danger of being torn apart by the proposal to start of with the European Super League which would have dismissed opportunities for so many other clubs – not just in England but all over Europe – and I’m just delighted that the fans have played such a major part in bringing this all about,” the Crystal Palace manager said.
“I was immensely pleased and appreciative of the efforts they made: you can see those people outside Chelsea’s ground protesting, you can see the banners put up at Anfield, all of those things which obviously people had to do quickly, to mobilise that type of support and organise that type of protest. I was very pleasantly surprised that they’ve been able to do it.
“Whether I was shocked at the power of the fans, I don’t know that I am.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever underestimated the power of the fans.
“I’ve always tried at least to realise that although you’re working with a group of footballers who are important people at the club, you’re working for owners, your employers who you have satisfy – I don’t think I’ve ever dismissed the realisation that it’s the however many thousands that come to the stadium and watch and however many thousands more that can’t get to the stadium but still support the club.”
Hodgson was in charge at Craven Cottage when Fulham qualified for the Europa League, eventually going on to reach the final in the 2009-10 season, before losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid.
Crystal Palace are due to travel to Leicester on Monday, with the Foxes currently third in the table and on course for a Champions League spot.
“We didn’t expect to see Leicester win the Premier League, we didn’t expect them to be in the Champions League before they won the league at the start of that season,” Hodgson added.
“If I remember correctly they were pretty low odds to get anywhere near the top four or the Premier League, and they won it and quite rightly took their Champions League place. That’s what people want to see.
“It might be a long shot for a lot of teams in the Premier League but it’s good that that shot exists, because we can go for it and hope and dream that one day it won’t just be Manchester City and Manchester United and Chelsea playing in top European games, it will be the likes off us.
“I can relate of course to that because I was able to enjoy that type of experience, to enjoy that type of dream come true if you like with Fulham in the Europa League.”