Opinion: Does European Super League spell the end of football as we know it?

By Thomas Carter

It was the announcement that took the footballing world by storm. The proposed formation of a European Super League, in which 12 of the continent’s powerhouse clubs (including six English teams) compete in a division of their own. Somewhat inevitably, the reaction to the news has been one of uproar and resistance.

Members of football communities took straight to social media to voice their discontent, with the new league coming under fire from pundits, managers and players alike.

Among the larger concerns is the idea that the formation of a Super League would create further separation in a climate already riddled with financial division, in what would be the most seismic shift football has observed since the creation of the Premier League in 1992.

As of today, the 12 clubs that would make up this new division include: Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

They are known as the ‘Founding Clubs’, with a further three teams expected to join the list in the coming days.

While the resistance from the fans has been evident, there is no denying the Super League’s financial backing, with American giants JP Morgan investing $6bn into the project.

As more details are revealed and the fury within the football sphere intensifies, a glaringly-obvious issue is getting lost in the adversity – this was inevitable.

Football is no longer the game of the people, and hasn’t been for years. Instead, it is controlled by a select few at the top of the financial chain. With that in mind, it has surely just been a matter of time before something of this nature took shape.

In England, the Premier League has long been known as the ‘top six teams and the rest’, as though either ends of the table are different divisions. This has been observed across Europe for decades, with powerhouse clubs dominating their respective leagues. Taking this into account, the formation of European Super League, in which these clubs only play those of the same quality, is hardly an unrealistic step within a game driven by revenue.

Another issue, however, comes with the new league’s proposed format, which would see no promotion or relegation – this is not football.

The very core of the sport is reliant on opportunity and progression, with teams battling it out to climb higher than they are, regardless of their stature. If a select few clubs play in their own exclusive league, one they are only in on a matter of wealth, then the soul of the game has been sold.

Ultimately, the formation of a European Super League, while a natural progression in a climate that facilitates greed and profit, would be a sad moment in the history of football.

Through further economic division and the very desire to progress being removed for almost all teams, this new division would certainly see the beautiful game enter its darkest hour.

Community Football Academy to cycle 300 miles from London to Paris for mental health awareness

Pictured: The charitable cyclists raising money for the mental health pandemic

By Jessica Smith

The Leicestershire based Community football academy training children and adults, is taking part in a huge 300-mile cycle to raise money for Mental Health Awareness this summer.

The ‘CFA Ride for The Future II’ is set to take place from August 12th – 15th, as volunteers and coaches from the academy plan to cycle from London Trafalgar Square to Paris, a mammoth distance of 300 miles in 48 hours.

Imran Govaria, 42, the academy’s volunteer social media and marketing correspondent, said: “Our charity work is not done for fame or fortune – CFA have a platform and we aim to use our influence in the community to raise awareness on the issue.

“Mental health affects everyone; and so many people still don’t feel comfortable speaking out, especially in the BAME community. That’s why we’re hoping by doing this challenge we’re able to raise money to educate the community to address this issue. We’ll be surviving on a minimum of 5 or 6 hours sleep, but it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make to raise awareness for mental health.”

The academy aims to raise around £25, 000 with the donations to its GoFundMe page, as its 15-20 volunteers take part in the difficult cycle this summer, with support from local charity Rahma Mercy, which support refugees, giving a sizeable donation and increasing the charity’s reach.

The institute hopes to reopen their doors gradually from March 29th, with 300 children enrolled returning for training, which for some is the vital lifeline they need to stay off the streets. 

 “The academy offers an escape, and it’s amazing to see children smile and be themselves in a safe environment.

“There was nothing like this when I was a child, so it’s so important that they feel comfortable to approach coaches – safeguarding is key for us.

“Rain or shine, our volunteers are there for the children, because we care genuinely care about their futures,” added the father of four.

The academy has raised money in the past for many local causes; a 136-mile cycle last summer raised £20, 000 for Leicester General Hospital’s Neonatal unit, where most of the club’s members were born, a trip to Albania in 2019 to help local orphans, and a further fundraising challenge raised money for Help the Homeless Leicester.

“Charity starts at home, and that’s why we raise money for local charities. We’re a small academy trying to do a good thing for our community – this is just the beginning for us.”

Donations can be made at the GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/cfa-ride-for-the-future-2

Shhhh! The little library that’s had the community reading during lockdown reveal its success

A bookworms dream – the library cove

By Jessica Smith

Two Westcotes book fanatics have turned a new page to create miniature outdoor libraries, bringing reading to our front doors in lockdown with ‘Fosse Road Little Library’ and other literature projects.

Joëlle Bradly, 41, decided to embark on the library project last April, with the help of friend Dave Towers, 56, who said: “We were a month into the first lockdown, and it was all very new, very strange and incredibly quiet everywhere. The mutual aid groups were up and running and we were looking for something that could combat the boredom (particularly for people enduring lockdown in isolation), help with a sense of community and be socially distanced all at the same time.”

Referencing the engagement from the community they’ve received, Dave added: “One person showed their thanks for the library, telling me it ‘kept them alive’ during the lockdown, exploring different authors and genres. They thanked me from the bottom of their heart – that was pretty special!”

Quickly the library took on a life of its own, with a Facebook following of over 400 people, an Instagram of 700 followers and frequent community engagement – they even have a small ‘committee’ of little librarians with a Resident Poet and Arts Director!

LittleSkool, a further project which gives online lessons and workshops from Leicester locals, has around 2K views so far, and following suit in Fosse Road’s success, two more little libraries have been set up in Braunstone, Leicester.

“Getting stuck in a book is a brilliant distraction from lockdown. And the eclectic tastes of Westcotes donators means there is usually something for everyone – it’s run by the community for the community.

“It became a bit of a thing last year when we had multiple copies of Lace 1 and 2 donated. We were known for our erotic fiction section for quite a while!” said bookworm Joëlle, who said big things are coming for this little library.

“We have lots of theme days coming up like World Poetry Day on March 21, and April 26 is the Little Library’s first birthday!” she added.

The library is non-profit, but encourage donations to Woodgate foodbank, and book donations can be taken at the little library on Fosse Road, and its sister branches in Braunstone. Follow the library on Instagram and Facebook to see more of the story so far: @fosse_road_little_library on Instagram, Fosse Rd Little Library on Facebook.

Live blog: Father and son litter-pickers collect 160+ bags from lay-by

5.22pm – and our final report of the day is literally rubbish…or more accurately, about rubbish!

An army of litter-pickers are busy across Leicestershire to tackle the huge problem which has been growing across the country since lockdown began. Maria Regina Santos Semedo spoke to one self-confessed ‘womble’ about the need for volunteers like him.

Luke Williamson, meanwhile, caught up with an indefatigable father-and-son team who just don’t seem able to stop clearing up.

5.08pm – a flurry of stories now in, on a range of topics

Leicester Comedy Festival is set to celebrate Leicestershire talent through virtual showcase ‘Leicester’s Good Friday’ to raise money for the live entertainment scene in Leicester, writes Abigail Beresford.

The ugly problem of dog mess is infuriating one Rushey Mead resident, as Ben Adams discovered.

Meanwhile mysterious displays of affection have been found on various walls around Leicester by an unknown ‘Diego’ to his love ‘Marie’. Abigail Beresford went on the trail to find out more.

Molly Talbot took a look at how Pride celebrations were a success at DMU, even though the month-long event had to switch to being online.

Journalism student Thomas Carter gave his thoughts to colleague Luke Williamson on his appearance alongside City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby on the launch panel for DMU’s Festival of Teaching yesterday.

Reflections on the meaning, the importance and the success of International Women’s Day make up a report by Olivia Messum.

Meanwhile Ada White helps the Prince’s Trust promote the resumption of its courses which support young people in Leicester.

And two different viewpoints were gathered by Molly Talbot and Olivia Messum about a recent online burlesque dance class – one from a student and one from the dance tutor.

5pm – Sport now – fans are counting the days in the hope of returning to watch live cricket and football in Leicester

Leicester City football fans are eager to get back into stadiums as the much-anticipated reopening for live matches edges closer. Jayden Whitworth interviews Leicester Fan TV’s Phil Holloway as hopes grow for a return to the King Power.

Jayden’s also had a word with Dan Nice at the county cricket ground where preparations are in full flow for the fans to return to see live matches.

3.07pm – Leicester charity Baby Basics raises over £2700 for families in need

Volunteers at Baby Basic Leicester, a charity that supports families with young children, have raised over £2700 for their cause through an online donation drive.

The campaign, which has reached 92% of its target amount on Crowdfunder, will help families by providing useful baby items such as cots and cleaning products, reports Thomas Carter

3.03pm – Graffiti artists invited to descend on Leicester for summer festival

The award-winning international graffiti festival Bring the Paint has announced that it is taking place in Leicester between 23rd-29th August 2021, with the support of Leicester City Council, Abigail Beresford writes.

The city-wide festival will be free for all to attend, with opportunities for families and children to get involved, with workshops for everyone to enjoy, as well as music, food and drinks.

2.00pm – Police appeal for witnesses after two car collision

Leicestershire Police is appealing for witnesses after two cars were involved in a serious collision in Leicester last night.

The incident occurred on Abbey Park Road, at the junction with Wolsey Island Way at 7.55pm on Monday evening.

1.10pm – Do you love reading and are you on your own in Leicestershire? Read on…

Leicestershire’s library service and the Reading Agency are making weekly phonecalls to people who are isolated to get them involved in chats about books and reading.

Shantelle Gondo reports on how he new project will take place until the end of March, with the help provided from the National Reading Agency, with £5,600 of funding provided by the Government through the agency.

12.58pm – Two new helicopters join area’s air ambulance service.

The air ambulance service covering Leicestershire has added two new helicopters to help it cover its patch that includes Derbyshire, Rutland, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire.

Read Joshua Solomon’s report here.

12.53pm – DMU student tells of her abuse torment in support of Sarah Everard movement

A student at DMU has come forward to reveal details about the history of sexual abuse in her own life, in a step to support the growing movement sparked by the murder of Sarah Everard.

Ellorie [not her real name], 22, came forward after seeing multiple women tell their stories about their experiences with sexual abuse. Kira Gibson reports.

11.45am – Heartfelt sign offers support to Leicester women affected by abuse or harassment

A sign put on a park gate in Leicester is echoing similar sentiments posted by women across the country who are leaving their mark as they protest about the way women are treated. Report by Kira Gibson.

11.40am – Leicester’s city centre St Patrick’s Day parade cancelled

St Patrick’ Day 2021 will be celebrated very differently in Leicester this year, due to the country’s national lockdown. 

Leicester’s St Patrick’s Day parade was due to go ahead this week but has been cancelled, due to the risk of breaking social distancing guidelines.

11.00am – Leicestershire Weather Update

Rain is forecast for the rest of the morning in Leicestershire, with cloudy skies expected for the rest of the day, highs of 14°C.

Visit bbc.co.uk/weather for more information.

10.40am – Countesthorpe Road reopens after roadworks

Good news! Countesthorpe Road has reopened after water main work has finished a day early.

10.30am – Welcome to today’s live blog from the Leicestershire Press newsdesk

Good morning Leicestershire. Hope you’re all staying safe. Stay switched on to our blog as we bring you news from Leicester and around the county today.

‘Lockdown has been tough – but my confidence and study skills have improved through lockdown restrictions’

DMU student Sahar Hussain tells Pythias Makonese that although she has struggled during lockdown, it has taught her many valuable lessons.

Sahar Hussain, 21, is currently doing a Masters in Research Applied Health Studies at De Montfort University. 

“I have been here for four years-the first three years were for my degree and now my one year for my masters,” she says.

She thinks the COVID 19 pandemic had many adverse effects on people in general, including herself. Being locked down and learning online makes uni life difficult, she says.

“There have been many effects on my studies and I think the biggest one has been trying to understand the lectures we have had, especially now some of the modules are completely new and we need more time to grasp them,” she says.

Sahar Hussain in the library: “I have found the lockdown tough – but it has improved my study skills.”

In terms of her education, she has found that her assignments are harder to complete – mainly because she finds it harder to concentrate during long online lectures.

“For me, personally, it has been the online activities and workshops we have to do that I have found most difficult,” she says.

“For example, I find it very hard to concentrate during online lectures compared to when I am attending lectures within the classroom.  I think students can be distracted especially when they are by themselves on a computer,” she says.

Sahar claims the effects of online learning have affected her quite severely.

However, using the library as her primary source of work and research has been helpful, she says.

“During lockdown I have noticed that the library has been a lot quieter and I have been coming to the library Monday to Friday – every single day due to there being fewer resources at home,” she says. 

She found disturbances at home unbearable because of different people coming in and out of the house . And at home her wif-if was slow. It made studying and watching online lectures even more difficult.

“I think one of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to be more independent to try to find better and more suitable ways to study. My confidence and study skills have improved through lockdown restrictions,” she say

 Sahar believes that the arrival of the vaccine will help to ease the lockdown. However, she still recommends that extra care is needed.

“I think we still need to be very careful with social distancing and putting on masks. We must take these measures because we are still currently not done at all with this pandemic,” she says.

Only leave your home if you have to, says Sahar. She only leaves her accommodation to study, go to the library and fetch essentials.

Sahar Hussain highly commends how DMU has handled the COVID-19 situation – especially with the introduction of the hardship fund.