When the elite ‘big six’ signed up to sell the soul of English football on the altar of hard cash and become members of the ESL last April, Kinnear admits he felt obliged not only to defend the interests of Leeds in its opposition, but all those who are not involved in this controversial cabal.
A number of football personalities, including Kinnear, were interviewed in a Sky documentary titled: Super Greed: The Fight for Football which aired this week.
He provided a forensic account of how ESL launch plans fell through after he briefly threatened to destroy the football pyramid.
Whether the concept resurfaces in another form in the coming years remains to be seen, as many suspect. But rest assured, clubs and supporters will be prepared if there is a next time.
Kinnear commented: “Despite the fact that we are ultimately just faceless administrators who should not play any significant role in the game, we are actually pretty much one man, all football fans.
“It was almost like that if we didn’t act then the game could die on our watch.
“It’s as much about the dreams of the players as it is about the dreams of the fans. Our captain when he was playing in the Championship, Liam Cooper, was known as ‘League One Liam’ because no one thought he was enough. good for playing in the championship.
“A year and a half later he’s captain of a team that won the Championship by 10 points and he’s now playing in the Premier League.
“Their dreams are tied to this issue as much as anyone else’s. It actually got to the heart of why they’re playing the game.”
In the documentary, Kinnear revealed he had learned of plans by six Premier League clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool – to break away from competition from West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady , with his indignation. be immediate to what he called an act of “industrial espionage”.
He continued: “There was a sense of personal betrayal. They are people we work with day in and day out and ultimately we are shareholders in the Premier League.
“If it had been in any other company it would have been an act of industrial espionage. It was setting up a cartel. It was dealing in clandestine ways and that was something the footballing world found distasteful.
“I think people saw it as an attack on the game, an attack on our supporters and an attack on their hopes and dreams. It hit the very essence of why our game is special and why a football pyramid is special.
“This pyramid is the heart of English football. This means that every city, community and village has the capacity to play at the highest level.
The day after the ESL bombshell that shook European football to its foundations, Leeds played Liverpool in a match at Elland Road on a night remembered with fervent protests from two groups of supporters united in their anger against developments.
Covid restrictions haven’t stopped sections of two of England’s most passionate fanbases from coming together and loudly telling the ESL lords where their new project should go unequivocally.
Several hundred people showed up outside the ground beforehand to express their fury, while a plane with a ‘Say no to Super League’ banner flew over the stadium.
It was the beginning of the end; a precursor to a wider nationwide protest that ultimately derailed the project with tense and panicked leaders forced to listen to supporters and turn back.
Before the game, the Leeds players made their point by warming up in t-shirts that read: ‘Champions League, win it’. Football is for the fans.
After the match, Liverpool captain James Milner, born in Leeds, became the first player to publicly express his dissatisfaction with the concept, which his own club’s hierarchy had embraced.
“My personal opinion is I don’t like it and I hope it doesn’t happen,” said the outspoken Yorkshireman.
On the significance of this night in front of millions watching not just in England but across Europe, Kinnear added: “The way I see the Super League is that it would have been catastrophic for Leeds United.
“Particularly because we had worked so hard to regain a place at the top of domestic football and that is why the Liverpool game was so relevant.
“In the Super League, Liverpool shouldn’t have worried about qualifying for Europe, which drives us all.
“And that would have been compounded by the fact that the money they would have made would have meant that they could have outdone us to such a degree that there would probably never be a competitive match between Liverpool and Leeds United. . again.
“Our responsibility is bigger than football. We have the hopes and dreams of an entire city resting on our shoulders.