Gary Neville launched an impassioned defence of the longstanding traditions of English football while simultaneously condemning the clubs that signed up to a breakaway league.
English football was rocked on Sunday with news emerging of plans to implement a new European Super League. Up to 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs had signed up to the new proposal, which would involve them forming their own competition to rival the Champions League.
Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham were all listed as being involved. Reports were more equivocal on the position of Manchester City – the remaining member of England’s so-called ‘big six – with some suggesting they had signed up and others saying they had not.
Other clubs listed as being involved were Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan. Notably, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Paris St Germain were not included.
The timing of the news raised eyebrows after usurping UEFA’s controversial plans for a new Champions League format expected on Monday.
Predictably, the news has been met with severe criticism, most notably from Neville.
Speaking during Sky Sports’ coverage of Man Utd’s victory over Burnley, Neville said: “I’m not against the modernisation of football competitions, we have the Premier League, the Champions League, but I think to bring forward proposals in the midst of Covid and the economic crisis for all clubs is an absolute scandal.
“United and the rest of the ‘Big Six’ that have signed up to it against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves.”
“The reaction to it is that it has been damned, and rightly so. I am a Manchester United fan and have been for 40 years but I am disgusted, absolutely disgusted.”
“I am disgusted by Manchester United and Liverpool the most. Liverpool, the pretend (with) ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ (they are) the people’s club, the fans’ club.
“Manchester United – 100 years, born out of workers. And they are breaking away into a league without competition, that they can’t be relegated from?
“It is an absolutely disgrace. Honestly, we have to wrestle back power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league, and that includes my club.”
Developing situation is “criminal” – Neville
Neville’s disgust with the developments did not stop there, with the Man Utd legend going on to describe the scene as “criminal.”
“I’ve been calling for 12 months, as part of an another group, for an independent regulator to bring checks and balances in place to stop this happening. It is pure greed.
“They are imposters. The owners of this club (United), the owners of Liverpool, the owners of Chelsea, the owners of Manchester City, they are nothing to do with football in this country.
“Manchester United aren’t even in the Champions League. Arsenal aren’t even in the Champions League. I watched them earlier today and they are an absolute shambles of a football club.
“Tottenham aren’t in the Champions League and they want a God-given right to be in there? They are an absolute joke.
“The time has come now for an independent regulator to stop these clubs having the power base. Enough is enough.”
“The motivation is greed. Deduct them all points tomorrow, put them at the bottom of the league and take the money off them. Seriously, you have got to stamp on this.
“It is criminal. It is a criminal act against football fans in this country. Deduct points, deduct money and punish them.”
“If they announce a letter of intent has been signed, those six clubs, they should be punished heavily. Massive fines, points deductions, take the titles off them. Who cares?
“Give the title to Burnley, let Fulham stay up. Relegate Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal. Those three clubs, with their history in this country, are the ones that should suffer the most.”