Last week the football world was stunned by plans of some of Europe’s biggest teams, including six from the English Premier League, to form a breakaway European Super League (ESL).

The proposals led to widespread outcry from fans of all clubs across the country, leading to the ‘Big Six’ involved – Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur to withdraw from the plan within days of it being made public.

As the dust settles, Chris Hughes – Football, Coaching and Performance Specialist Lecturer at Glyndwr University – has said it will be fascinating for students to study the events of a whirlwind few days in the game.

Chris, who is also a UEFA Pro Licence Holder, Football Association of Wales coaching tutor, and first-team manager of Newtown AFC in the JD Cymru Premier, says there are plenty of lessons to be learned for students, ranging from how the plan was communicated, to the reactions of fans and staff within the game.

He said: “As academics you almost look at it two ways. Wearing your football supporters hat you can understand the outrage and thoughts of ‘how could this happen?’.

“But then academically, I’ve read a lot of good articles around the issue, how it came about, where it’s all come from – those 12 clubs, their anger at UEFA, at how the Champions League money and Europa League money is going to be redistributed.

“From our point of view as an academic team, as a programme team, it’s an interesting debate to get into and there is lots of research out there.

“I’m sure as more and more comes out in the next few weeks, more research will become available.”

As manager of Newtown, Chris has insight into European club football having qualified for the UEFA Europa League in 2015, where the Mid Wales side took on Valletta of Malta and Danish giants FC Copenhagen.

He said: “We have to be relevant on our degree course, and football changes hourly, daily, it changes all the time.

“We have to make sure we are giving our students the latest, whether it’s in coaching, talking about relationships managing upwards, managing downwards, relationships with people who have got an interest in your football club are a managing stakeholder in your football club, and want to speak to you – you have to know how to deal with that as a Head Coach or a Manager.

“As volatile as the (ESL) situation still is with a lot of people, I think from our point of view it is an opportunity to learn and develop our students as well in the way that football works.”

He added: “From when the Premier League started in 1992 to now, it’s a completely different game.

“So we have a responsibility to our students to make sure that we are on top of the ever-changing demands placed on a Coach or a Manager, Sporting Director or Director of Football – lots of roles in the game now, that we discuss in our lectures and our modules.”

For more information about the BSC (Hons) Football Coaching and the Performance Specialist Course at Wrexham Glyndwr University, visit

Pictured: Specialist lecturer Chris Hughes.

  • Published on 26th April 2021