I think seeing all 4 as one problem and trying to take them on all at once was the downfall of the idea. They might have been able to fix revenue non-maximization and revenue distribution and indeed I would think that was the real biggest issue for the clubs. But they were so obsessed with revenue uncertainty that they "fixed" it in the ESL proposal by not having relegation, which took away fan support, instead of having a bit more faith in their teams' ability to stay near the top and recognizing that promotion/relegation is very much integral to the European football brand. They alluded to cost increases, which led to players being suspicious that American-style restrictions on spending might eventually be part of the ESL, instead of emphasizing the bigger pie.
I think you're right. To me it was just such a short sighted, arrogant attempt to create a more predictable revenue stream for several reasons:
1. All clubs, not just big clubs, were hit hard by the pandemic. This attitude of "fixing" revenue to make it more predictable implies that only big clubs need predictable revenue. The biggest clubs will be hit harder, but are also better positioned to recover short term than the rest. Lille might very well win Ligue 1 and fall into financial ruin. I think Depor was mentioned a few times in this thread, and that is the plight for many second tier teams. They were La Liga champions and Champions League semifinalists. A few years later, relegation to La Segunda where they fell just short of bouncing back up. They failed and are now in the third tier. The margins for these teams are so much smaller. If you want fixed, predictable income, don't by a soccer team.
2. Champions League places add so much entertainment to the leagues. Serie A is likely done and dusted with Inter so far ahead, but places 2-6/7 are incredibly interesting. Otherwise we would just be watching the relegation battle. Not to mention that several of the founding fathers of the ESL are involved in these battles- PSG, Juve, several EPL teams, Milan. A few will end up on the outside looking in. For many teams, these qualifying spots are the goal for the season. Again, looking at Serie A, Napoli, Roma, Lazio, and Atalanta would put UCL qualification as the domestic goal. Most if not all fans are likely to revolt against any system that removes this.
3. The lack of relegation for teams that do not feature in UCL currently is almost laughable (looking at you AC Milan and Arsenal -two times I like to root for) and it does not allow for future changes. Chelsea had history pre-Abramovich, but not like this. Man City had even less pre-Sheik, PSG did not even exist before 1970 and only recently joined the elite. Who would've predicted the rise of these teams twenty years ago?
I also am in the crowd that saw the ESL as a first step to a new type of European football, completely removed from the national leagues. I saw the next logical step as a secondary tier where teams played for the rights to be promoted to the few available ESL slots (let's call it the EL), maybe a third tier below that, with the goal that the European nation's league to be a feeder leagues to this new European system more akin to the provision leagues in most countries.
I do wonder if the immediate and severe reaction will actually slow the drive towards an ESL type of format. A lot of posters both here and elsewhere have implied that it will happen at some point. I'm not so sure that teams will be inclined to try even a well-thought out plan (which this was not) in the future. It was the fans of the teams that stood to actually benefit the most who had such vocal displays against the ESL.