Several governing bodies along with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson have all come out in force against the European Super League.
English football was rocked on Sunday with news emerging of plans to implement a new European Super League. A statement released by the new group on Sunday night confirmed the speculation. 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs had signed up to the new proposal, which would involve forming their own competition to rival the Champions League.
Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Man City all signed up to the breakaway league.
The structure would see the initial 15 founding members from Europe’s top leagues exempt from relegation. The final five teams would ‘qualify’ based on their respective achievements in the season prior.
The format (as detailed by The Times) would see two groups of ten play home and away games. The top four of each group would then advance to play a two-legged quarter-final and semi-final before the last two teams would play a one-off final.
Predictably, reaction to the idea has been almost universally negative.
Gary Neville led the way with an impassioned speech on Sky Sports. Now, various governing bodies along with PM Boris Johnson have joined forces in condemning the move.
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”.
The statement said: “If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we – UEFA, the English FA, RFEF, FIGC, the Premier League, LaLiga, Lega Serie A, but also FIFA and all our member associations – will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.
“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.
“As previously announced by FIFA and the six Federations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.
“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced.
“This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”
FA and Premier League statements
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.
“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.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to Twitter on Sunday evening to round out the backlash, posting: “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.”