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Boris Johnson: European Super League proposals ‘very damaging for football... clubs must answer to their fans’

Tom Doyle
·4-min read
<p>Johnson believes the plans would ‘strike at the heart of the domestic game’</p> (Getty Images)

Johnson believes the plans would ‘strike at the heart of the domestic game’

(Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called proposals for a European Super League “very damaging for football” and says Premier League clubs “must answer to their fans” before deciding to launch a breakaway competition.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City have signed up to the breakaway plan and will be joined by teams from Italy and Spain - Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Uefa has reacted angrily to the threat of the ‘Big Six’ Premier League clubs helping to form a new competition. A joint statement from UEFA, the Football Associations of England, Spain and Italy, plus the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A added they remained united in their efforts to “stop this cynical project” and were considering all “judicial and sporting (measures) in order to prevent this happening”.

On Sunday evening, Mr Johnson took to Twitter to criticise the proposals, tweeting: “Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.

“They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country.

“The clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps.”

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Sadiq Khan, followed the former Mayor of London, adding that clubs could face state intervention to prevent the change.

He tweeted: “Football should be for the fans, not the elite, for the many, not the few. I urge the clubs involved with the misguided proposal of the European Super League to think again. If the clubs do press ahead they must know they could face intervention to protect the game we all love.”

In a solo statement, the English FA said: “It is clear that this would be damaging to English and European football at all levels and will attack the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are fundamental to competitive sport.

“For new competitions to be formed involving clubs from different associations, approval would be required from the relevant national associations, confederation and/or FIFA.

“We would not provide permission to any competition that would be damaging to English football, and will take any legal and/or regulatory action necessary to protect the broader interests of the game.

“We note Fifa confirmed earlier this year that they and the six confederations would not recognise any such competition and, as such, any player or club involved may not be permitted to participate in any official competition which falls within the auspices of FIFA or their respective confederation.

“The FA will continue to work with UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League to seek to ensure that nothing is approved that has the potential to damage English football. We will work with fans, the Premier League, EFL, PFA and LMA, as well as other stakeholders, at home and abroad, to defend the integrity and future prospects of English football in the best interests of the game.”

The Premier League issued its own strongly worded statement as the news broke on the eve of a meeting where UEFA is expected to rubber-stamp a revamped 36-team Champions League.

Getty Images
Getty Images

“The Premier League condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid,” the league said in a statement.

“Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best. We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.

“A European Super League will undermine the appeal of the whole game, and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs, and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper.”

The Professional Footballers’ Association said in a statement on Sunday evening that it had “substantial concerns” regarding the proposal and vowed to work with the players and relevant organisations to “represent the game’s best interests and protect the integrity of football”.

Gary Neville, speaking on Sky Sports, labelled the plans “an absolute scandal”, particularly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and called for teams who have signed up to be deducted points, with his former Manchester United team-mate Roy Keane agreeing that it just came down to “money and greed”.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta were asked about the matter following their respective matches on Sunday, with both unwilling to comment before knowing the full details.

Additional reporting by PA.

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