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Gary Neville has furiously accused the owners of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ of being “imposters” with “no loyalty to this country” and warned that fans will disown their clubs if they help launch a European Super League.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have been in advanced talks with leading Spanish and Italian clubs and, should they sign up to the proposal, Neville wants immediate points deductions, fines and relegations.
With the Football Association, Premier League, Fifa and Uefa all warning that rebel clubs and players would be excluded from their competitions if they joined an unsanctioned league, Neville accused the billionaire owners of plotting to destroy English football.
“They’ve got no loyalty to this country and these leagues,” said Neville, a Sky Sports pundit. “They are imposters. They are nothing to do with football in this country. The fans need protecting. Enough is enough. I love Manchester United [but] this is disowning your own club stuff.
“If they announce a letter of intent has been signed, they should be punished heavily. Massive fines, points deduction, take the titles off them. Relegate United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Those three clubs are the history of this country.”
Neville, who captained Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, said that they had acted “like a small club” for most of the past decade. He also described Arsenal, currently ninth of being “an absolute shambles of a football club” and ridiculed the idea of protected places in European competition.
“This is an absolute grab,” he said. “The timing is hideous. What world are these people living in to think that they can bring this forward at this moment?”
United, Liverpool and Arsenal are all owned by American businessmen while Chelsea and Manchester City are owned respectively by Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour. The only English owner among the Premier League’s six richest clubs is Tottenham’s Joe Lewis, who lives in the Bahamas.
Neville believes that fans would walk away if the proposals come to fruition but believes that the owners will first back down. “How could you even think to be watching a Super League when you have left your 14 clubs in the Premier League behind to play a game against each other?” he said. “[With] your Championship clubs dead. Your EFL One and Two clubs dead. Your National League, your pyramid system that you fought for over 150 years is gone because of six clubs.
“They will back track down because they are bottle merchants. They did the same with Project Big Picture. They bottled out of that one a week later.”
Micah Richards, the former Manchester City defender, said that a breakaway move would be like “ripping the heart and soul” from what the club had built in the community. The outrage was reflected by the Football Supporters’ Federation. “It is motivated by nothing but cynical greed,” said a spokesperson. “This competition is being created behind our backs by billionaire club owners who have zero regard for the game’s traditions and continue to treat football as their personal fiefdom.”
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