There has always been an element of crony capitalism in football but over the past 30 years with the creation of the Premier League, the Champions League and the divisional playoffs, a fundamental bedrock has remained: teams need to compete for places.

The threat of relegation or finishing outside the European qualifying places has been a particular focus of American owners of Premier League clubs. They prefer the franchise model that underpins North American sports leagues.

But the fine print of the European Super League, announced on Sunday evening and attracting condemnation, also contains a player salary and transfer fee cap (55 per cent of revenues) that signals the other intent behind these moves, to give the clubs involved more control of their costs and bigger profits.

There was always a risk that the Premier League and the Champions League with their near total global reach would be exposed to a takeover such as this. The moguls can’t abide the uncertainty of business models based on competition nor the fact there is no constraint on player salaries. The only way to stop this happening now or in the future is to impose rules on ownership of clubs as they have in Germany.

But I would be astonished if the founders of this league have not got the legal side of their move watertight. It is doubtful that participating clubs will be thrown out of their domestic leagues or that players will be banned from playing for their national sides.

If I were leading the campaign against it I would focus on three aspects of the controversy: First, seeking government intervention on ownership rules. Secondly, accept that caps must be imposed on player salaries. Thirdly, make no concession to the franchise model. Competition is the lifeblood of football.

The EPL and UEFA are far from perfect and vultures have always been circling but we should accept that football at all levels has got bigger, better, safer and less parochial under their stewardship. Now is the time to put in place a governing framework for the game that builds on this but mitigates the risk of cronyism, globalism and players’ agents’ greed.

We invented this game – “the most important of the least important things in life” – and created its best brand and jewel of cultural capital, the Premier League.

Let’s hope we act in time. The wolves are at the door.