Ex-Italian Prime Minister name-checks Celtic in passionate ESL rant

By David Walton

April 20, 2021

Former Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, has name-checked Celtic as he explained the “thrill” of seeing them in a passionate ESL rant.

Three of Italy’s biggest clubs have signed up to be part of the new breakaway competition [BBC]. AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus have all joined up in a move that would see them drop out of the Champions League.

As many as 12 of the biggest clubs in Europe have signed up, with the idea being that 15 teams will compete in the inaugural season. Even more concerning is the fact that the 12 founding members cannot get relegated. Effectively, they don’t have to earn their way in as they would do in the Champions League. They’ll instead be handed immunity and a constant invitation.

And Letta, who gave an exclusive interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, has name-checked Celtic as a reason for what makes European football so special:

“The Super League is an operation that distorts Europe. Europe is different from the United States! It is the Europe of 40 different capitals that often reach each other with half an hour by plane.

An exciting seven days for Celtic fans is about to get underway

“40 flags from 40 languages from 40 stories. Europe is the thrill of seeing Celtic Glasgow’s horizontal striped jersey, it is following the exploits of Atalanta and Leicester, it is being enthused by the charm of a Lisbon between Sporting and Benfica. We must defend all of this.

“Among the fans, there is the awareness that we are taking a wrong path. And as a (AC) Milan fan, I appeal to Milan: don’t make this mistake.”

Celtic reportedly against the ESL proposals, but who isn’t?

Celtic are reportedly one of the clubs firmly against the idea of a closed-shop ESL [Sky Sports]. But who isn’t if truth be told? Who truly wants us to be involved in this sham of a competition? A competition in which the vast majority of clubs no longer have to earn their way in.

Granted, there are major inconsistencies across UEFA when it comes to qualification for the Champions League as it is. The fact you can have the top four in England and Spain get through is an embarrassment. But at the very least there is a certain standard clubs need to reach if they’re to be involved. For example, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Arsenal all look like failing to qualify for the Champions League next season.

But this isn’t something that’s only risen its head over the last 24 hours. This has likely been in the pipeline for years. The fact it’s being rolled out now, when clubs are being crippled by Covid cutbacks, is even more shameful.

Enrico Letta name-checked Celtic (Photo by Samantha Zucchi/Insidefoto/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Celtic, of course, will still have a route into the Champions League. But Letta hits the nail on the head. Europe is all about seeing historical, magical clubs such as ourselves punching above our weight. Granted, that hasn’t happened for a long time, but there is a road there to compete with the best teams in the world and create incredible moments such as Celtic 2-1 Barcelona.

Many of these clubs who are trying to form the new ESL are big-name fixtures. And if they breakaway from UEFA in this manner, it’s likely we may never play them again until the next major reshuffling of European football.

You would think it wiser for them to instead sit down with UEFA and discuss how to make the Champions League better. Instead, all we’re seeing is greed and opportunism come to the fore.

In other news, here’s what Eddie Howe thought of the new ESL.