Former Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore has told Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville “life will never be the same again” following the attempted European Super League breakaway.
Speaking on The Overlap, Neville’s new YouTube channel, Scudamore warned that while the project was doomed to failure, the involvement of six Premier League clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – had irretrievably changed English football.
“I absolutely knew to my core that fundamentally the fan base and the fabric that is English football wouldn’t let it happen,” Scudamore told Neville as he reflected on the whirlwind seven days that rocked football.
“For English football, it is just so flawed and the idea that they couldn’t see it…I don’t need to name names, but reading some of the apologies, where one said ‘we spent a lot of time thinking about what our fans would want us to do’, and yet they didn’t spend one iota talking to those fans who have reacted.
“You don’t know where to start with the contempt for the ill-thought-through nature of the whole thing.”
While the six Premier League clubs did withdraw from the league following the overwhelming public backlash to the plans, Scudamore has warned there will have to be ‘consequences’ for their attempted breakaway.
“I don’t believe life will ever be the same after last Sunday. There will be changes as the actions of the six have altered some of the dynamic forever. I’d like to think the six will get back around the table at some point – not right away as there’s too much anger out there right now – but there will be constructive dialogue where there will be some changes.
“It might be self-regulatory change, and there may be some external regulatory change. It’s inevitable.”
Asked specifically whether the clubs should be punished, Scudamore replied: “I don’t want to go there as it’s not my job, but there has to be some consequences. It can’t happen without there being consequences, and something has to be extracted for what they’ve done…I won’t go into what but something has to be handed out.”
Scudamore was also dismissive of Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid president, over his role in the attempted breakaway.
“Let him try to [antagonise] the Premier League, I wouldn’t have a message for him. Let Europe deal with that. He’s not going to get what he wants when it comes to the European Super League. Who knows which six clubs it’ll be in a year, five years, 10 years’ time.
“When you look at the temerity of the whole thing with these six clubs, it was a slice in time. If you’d gone back 10 years, it would’ve been a different six and another different six 20 years ago. It can’t happen, and I’m not really interested in what Perez and some of the others have to say quite frankly.”
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But, in the week that Neville himself has insisted only government intervention can prevent a proposed breakaway emerging again, Scudamore remains adamant that independent regulation isn’t required.
“I absolutely have not changed my view regarding whether an independent regulation is needed. I feel that football is fit for purpose, fundamentally as professional football is built around promotion and relegation. The most offensive part of the European Super League among other things was the closed system – which is complete anathema.
“No matter how unrealistic your expectations, the idea that you can form a team behind the Dog & Duck pub and work your way up through the pyramid – whether that be Salford City or anyone else – you can get to the top.
“It’s an older principle that even promotion and relegation, and fundamentally those two things don’t alter. The regulatory framework which manages those things isn’t easy. Promotion and relegation is the lifeblood of it, and fans have made that clear.
“But the other key factor is the finances of football, and that’s no more straightforward for an independent regulator who will not know as much about that as the clubs themselves. Self-regulation is about the clubs and the leagues coming up with a framework that allows things to breathe.”
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