European Super League: Boris Johnson opposes plans; 'Big Six' board member says owners 'totally committed' to the concept

Boris Johnson vowed the government will do everything it can to make sure the new European Super League “doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed”, as one ‘Big Six’ board member says there is a “nuclear war” in football.

On Sunday, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham agreed to join a breakaway European Super League. They are to be joined by AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.

The owners of the six Premier League clubs were said to be fully expecting a backlash from the football, governing bodies and politicians.

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Johnson first voiced his displeasure on Sunday evening after it had become public knowledge an announcement was expected from the European Super League. He warned the proposals were “very damaging for football”.

DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport) secretary Oliver Dowden has raised his concerns, DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight believes Sunday constituted a “dark day for football”, while Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has claimed the League concept “risks shutting the door on fans for good”.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has also said France would support “all the steps” taken by football’s governing bodies to defend the existing competitions.

Speaking on Monday, Johnson has indicated the government will collaborate with the FA, the Premier League, and other football governing bodies in order to block the proposals.

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. (1/2)

The Prime Minister said: “We are going to look at everything that we can do with the football authorities to make sure that this doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed.

“I don’t think that it’s good news for fans, I don’t think it’s good news for football in this country.

“These clubs are not just great global brands – of course, they’re great global brands – they’re also clubs that have originated historically from their towns, from their cities, from their local communities, they should have a link with those fans, and with the fan base in their community.

“So it is very, very important that that continues to be the case. I don’t like the look of these proposals, and we’ll be consulted about what we can do.”

European Super League – latest developments

‘This is not civil war, it’s a nuclear war’

Sky Sports News‘ Kaveh Solhekol has spoken to an unnamed board member from one of the ‘Big Six’ Premier League sides which agreed to join the European Super League on Sunday, who revealed that splits have already emerged within club hierarchies over the proposals.

“To be honest, they are not that worried about PR,” one unnamed club board member told Sky Sports News. “Our primary job is to maximise our revenues and profits. The wider good of the game is a secondary concern.

The owners want less football, not more football. They would be secretly delighted about the prospect of their players being banned from the European Championships and the FIFA World Cup.

Several owners still cannot understand why we have relegation in English football – “they just can’t get their head around the concept,” the board member said.

“They don’t like giving their playing assets away to countries for very little financial reward,” he added.

If the clubs were allowed to stay in the Premier League, they would focus on midweek Super League games and there is a real possibility that they would field weakened teams for domestic games at the weekends.

Companies in the USA and Saudi Arabia have been sounded out about buying the broadcast rights to the new League.

When asked if there was a civil war in football now, he said: “This is not a civil war, it’s a nuclear war.”

Some of the other 14 Premier League clubs want the six breakaway clubs to be sanctioned immediately and they believe the sanctions should include suspension from the current Premier League season.

One club owner has said privately that he would be prepared to leave the Premier League if they had to and the owners of the six sides involved are totally committed to setting up the new ESL.

The breakaway is being driven by Manchester United co-owners Malcolm and Joel Glazer, and United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, with backing from American investment bank JP Morgan.

Several owners still cannot understand why we have relegation in English football – “they just can’t get their head around the concept,” the board member added.

Chelsea and Manchester City had major reservations about joining the Super League. In the end, they decided they could not afford to be left playing in weakened Premier League and Champions League competitions.

ESL seeks legal protection over UEFA, FIFA reactions

The European Super League has already taken steps to protect itself from any attempts from UEFA and FIFA to punish its member clubs and players.

In a letter to UEFA and FIFA, the Super League wrote: “We are concerned that FIFA and UEFA may respond to this invitation letter by seeking to take punitive measures to exclude any participating club or player from their respective competitions.

European Super League – Financial details

“We hope that is not your response to this letter and that, like us, your organisations will recognise the immediate benefits of the competition established by SLCo.

“We also seek your co-operation and support on how the competition can be brought within the football ecosystem and work with us to achieve that objective.

“Your formal statement does, however, compel us to take protective steps to secure ourselves against such an adverse reaction, which would not only jeopardise the funding commitment under the grant but, significantly, would be unlawful.

“For this reason, SLCo has filed a motion before the relevant courts in order to ensure the seamless establishment and operation of the competition in accordance with applicable laws.”

‘Ceferin: ESL is disgraceful, self-serving, fuelled by greed’

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has strongly condemned “disgraceful” proposals for a new European Super League.

It comes after European football’s governing body released a joint statement on Sunday with the FA, Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A, blasting the plans.

Ceferin said: “I cannot stress more strongly UEFA and the footballing world are united against the disgraceful, self-serving, proposals we have seen, fuelled purely by greed.

“It’s a nonsense of a project. This idea is a spit in the face for all footballer lovers and our society. We will not allow them to take this away from us.

“These are so-called big clubs, it is clear that the big clubs of today were not always big clubs. Juventus were in Serie B, Man United before Sir Alex Ferguson was I don’t know where.

“We will do the sanctions we can do within the law, of course.”

Ceferin stresses players will be banned from playing in the European Championship and World Cup, and UEFA’s president has thanked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his support.

UEFA has announced a new Champions League format for post-2024, which includes no more groups and all teams in one ranking. Every team will play 10 different opponents, home and away.

ECA set for crunch talks on ESL announcement

An ECA board member has told Sky Sports News the 12 ESL breakaway clubs have “totally blindsided” the rest of European football with Sunday’s announcement

The source says the ECA Board met on Friday and agreed on a mandate with UEFA’s Executive Committee to work together on plans to revamp the Champions League from 2024

Juventus’ former ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli ratified the decision and chaired the meeting, at which Man Utd CEO Ed Woodward and Arsenal’s Venai Venkatesham were both present.

The ECA board are meeting on Monday afternoon and are expected to meet daily to establish how to respond to the crisis.

The board member has said the development is: “bizarre – the deceitfulness of the clubs involved is extraordinary, and reputations are no longer intact as a result of this”.

Tuchel: Too early to judge ESL, I trust Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel believes it is too early to have a definitive opinion on the European Super League and says he trusts Chelsea to make the right decisions.

The Chelsea boss says he understands the emotional reaction to the concept but says he himself does not know enough about the situation to judge.

He said: “I am here to be in the hardest competition, it’s why I came here. To play the toughest competitions in Europe. As you know, I don’t get the subjects around us.

“I am part of this club and I trust this club to make the right decisions. I think it is too early to judge everything and it is not my part. On my badge, it says that everyone has to play their role. My role is to coach.

“If I had a clear opinion right now I wouldn’t mention. But it’s too early to judge it and there are way too many opinions out there. I trust this club and my job is very clear. I am maybe not the right person to ask this. I understand why there are many emotional reactions out there but I don’t know enough about it.

“I wasn’t involved. The players were not involved in the decision-making. Maybe it’s a good thing to step back and not give our opinions about this.

“The players and I trust the club, we are employees. It’s best we don’t get involved in sports politics and this situation. It’s above our heads.

“It’s a big subject, everyone is talking. It’s maybe impossible for the players not to be influenced by it but it’s too early and there are a lot of opinions out there. Hopefully, we can stay calm, have the influence to the players so they don’t get distracted.”

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