AND so, it has come to this. The European Super League. The final nail in the coffin of the romanticised notion that football is the working man’s game. That it is at heart, a meritocracy.

In truth, if the statement released by the 12 ‘founding clubs’ of the ESL late on Sunday evening came as a shock to you, then you haven’t been paying attention.

The avarice at the top of the game has long since created an effective closed shop, with the biggest clubs taking more and more of the pie as the rest are tossed the odd crumb from the crust. Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville’s impassioned riposte to the proposals over the weekend made for good TV, but it was ironic to see such outrage on that channel when his employers have perhaps contributed to the polarisation of the game over the last 20 years more than any other entity.

The bigger that disparity has grown between the haves and the have-nots, the more confident they have become that they can survive the pitchforks of the angry mob when they eventually decided to pull up the drawbridge. And now Sky are outraged that they too may be left on the outside looking in.

The only jarring aspect of the announcement was how brazen the greed and entitlement of these clubs now was, dispensing even with the façade that the competition wasn't only for the select few.

A board member from one of the six English clubs involved was reported as saying; “Our primary job is to maximise our revenues and profits. The wider good of the game is a secondary concern.” God knows where fans rank on that priority list. One can’t imagine that quote will be flown from banners in 50 years’ time in the same way as ‘football without fans is nothing’, which of course came from the legendary Jock Stein.

The roll of shame reads as follows; AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur. Twelve clubs who have but one thing in common apart from their craven selfishness – a huge worldwide following who watch them on television.

How Matt Busby of Manchester United or Bill Shankly of Liverpool would have felt about their clubs not only competing in such a sham of a competition, but actually forging it against the will of their supporters, is beyond doubt. They would have been appalled, as the vast majority of fans of even these 12 clubs seem to be.

And as for the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham, what in the world gives them the right to a golden ticket to the chocolate factory? If you can’t beat the teams above you, it seems you may simply bypass them by deign of having the larger Instagram following.

UEFA have come out swinging in response, saying that all clubs and players who participate in the Super League will be barred from competing in any UEFA competition.

So what, you may wonder. Speaking from Scotland, where we have been gasping for the rarefied air of regular Champions League football for over a decade now, there may be a temptation to feel that all of this is above our station. And indeed, that it may not affect us all that much.

It may even improve our chances at the Euros, given that we would be weakened less than many other countries this summer, even without Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney and Scott McTominay ourselves. As sickening as it would be for the players, none of whom can want any of this.

And let’s not kid ourselves here. Had Celtic or Rangers or any other Scottish club been invited to stick their own noses in the trough, they would have had their heads down and their rear-ends up before you could say Atlantic League.

But leaving that aside, there is a chance here for leagues like our own to reclaim the game, and celebrate what we still have here that others do not.

“That’s not football. This is football.” So read a response from the SPFL’s official social media channel with a video celebrating the supporters who are at the heart of Scottish football.

The apparent reference to long-standing supporters of the 12 ESL clubs between them as ‘legacy fans’, with the distant pay-per-view customers cheering on from afar as ‘future fans’, is a gift for clubs here. If they can show their fans they are valued and are at the heart of their club, then the connection between them will only grow stronger. Accentuate what is unique about us. Reject the corporate blandness higher up the chain.

Chief executive Neil Doncaster soon elaborated on the point in a statement, standing with UEFA and condemning the Super League as “a cynical and very worrying attempt to thwart the core principle of sporting merit which rightly underpins European football.” A worthy sentiment, but one which no doubt drew wry smiles in Brora and Kelty, as well as from Tynecastle and Firhill.

And let’s face it, Doncaster railing against the elite clubs of European football brings to mind Abe Simpson shouting the odds at a cloud. There might be a little hubbub down below, but it will carry serenely on its way in blissful ignorance.

Thankfully, there are stronger allies, most notably from German football, who have wholly rejected the proposal. Without the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, how can the ESL lay any claim to being a competition between the elite sides from the continent?

It all rather seems like an almighty bargaining tactic by Juventus villain-in-chief Andrea Agnelli, who has been lobbying for Champions League reform to make it easier for clubs like his own to hoover up the profits without threatening to actually win the thing.

Stale Solbakken, the Norway manager, perhaps put it best when he said yesterday; “In recent years Juventus have been knocked out by Lyon, Porto and Ajax in the Champions League. Why the f*** should they be in such a tournament then? Tottenham and Arsenal are currently probably not among the 20-30 best teams in Europe.”

Well, quite.

If this has been a ruse to push UEFA further in their proposed reforms for the Champions League, then it appears to have worked. Even as UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin called out Manchester United’s Ed Woodward and Agnelli in particular for the ‘lies’ they told him about being happy with their lot, his organisation were rushing out their plans to bring the so-called big boys back on side.

From 2024, there will be 36 teams, with extra places for ‘elite’ clubs who fail to qualify. The traditional Champions League group stage will be scrapped, with all of the teams playing in one section. Each team will play 10 games home and away on Thursday nights, with the top eight going through to the last 16, and those finishing between ninth and 24th playing out two-legged knockout ties for the right to join them there. Sigh.

That this is perhaps the preferred option of the majority now shows how low the bar has been set. After the last 24 hours, it is also clear why many fans are turning away from the ‘elite’ clubs in disgust too.