THE European Super League debacle has shown that the customer is always king, listeners to the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey heard yesterday.

“The fans have obviously made a big difference here – more than anything – more than the politicians,” Lord Willie Haughey said.

The businessman and Labour peer is a former non-executive director of Celtic Football Club and played at Queen’s Park Football Club in his youth.

“But I also think it’s a good time to reflect on what is wrong with the game,” he continued. “And I think that we in Scotland we have seen what financial mismanagement can do to clubs over the last 30 years. We’ve had many clubs go bust. We’ve had many clubs in financial bother. Many takeovers. I think that we need a root-and-branch look at what we do.”

Donald Martin, editor of The Herald and Sunday Herald, had asked Lord Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter, the entrepreneur and philanthropist, about their reaction to last week’s failed attempt by 12 of Europe’s leading football clubs – including the Premier League’s big-six clubs – to form their own competition to rival the UEFA Champions League. The plan quickly crumbled after outrage from fans forced clubs to withdraw.

Lord Haughey said the issue with football wasn’t about getting more revenues into the game.

“That’s not the problem,” he said. “We need to look at the costs that are in the game. How can it be right that we’ve got a player getting £600,000 a week and he’s happy to be on the golf course and not playing in the squad?”

Playing devil’s advocate, Mr Martin asked Sir Tom: “Are we not losing sight of the fact that football is actually a business? And has America not got the sporting franchise business model right? And we’re just simply stuck in the past?”

Sir Tom replied: “Absolutely it’s a business. But it’s a business like no other. Because here were a bunch of rich business owners. And I think it’s important that many of the English teams were owned by Americans. And Americans didn’t see any problem with this. It shows you how out of touch they are actually with their fans. And I was delighted to see that the customer is king here.”

Sir Tom believed Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, the main architect of the European Super League project, was motivated by “selfish” reasons because his club was in trouble financially. Clubs are facing rising debts as player wage bills soar.

“Let’s face it, this is one of the greediest sports that’s ever been invented,” Sir Tom said.

“And I think I’m right here when I say that, when the Premier League in England was formed, the clubs at the top took 93% of the TV revenue. So they have chucked the rest of the clubs in the river here.”

Football needs to get back to its roots, Sir Tom said. “This is a business,” he added.

“Money talks. But on this occasion, the customer has said – your money’s no good here.”

Lord Haughey said football was a unique business. “It’s the fans that make it the greatest sport in the world,” he added.

“And hopefully, they’ve demonstrated in the last two days that they’ve wrestled back a bit of the power.”

Lord Haughey and Sir Tom helped the Scottish Football Association buy Hampden from Queen’s Park FC in 2018 to ensure the national football stadium remained the home of Scottish football.