Boris Johnson vows to block European Super League

Gareth Davies
·6-min read
Boris Johnson vows to block European Super League - Reuters
Boris Johnson vows to block European Super League - Reuters

Boris Johnson has said he will work with the football authorities to block plans for a controversial breakaway European Super League involving some of England's biggest football teams.

The Prime Minister said he will work with the game's administrators "to make sure that this doesn't go ahead in the way that it's currently being proposed".

Six Premier League sides - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur - are part of an initial group of 12 clubs seeking to establish a new 20-team continental competition "as soon as practicable".

If the plans succeed it would devastate existing European club competitions and in particular the Champions League. A joint statement including UEFA and the English, Italian and Spanish leagues published on Sunday said it would consider "all measures, both judicial and sporting" to prevent the competition going ahead.

This could include attempts to bar the competing clubs from domestic leagues and their players from UEFA's international competitions too.

But speaking to reporters on a campaign visit to Gloucestershire, Mr Johnson said: "I don't like the look of these proposals."

"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," he said.

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

He said the teams are more than just "great global brands", adding: "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 consulting about what we can do."

Investment bank JP Morgan has confirmed it will be financing the new league, a spokesman for the US firm confirmed.

It is understood that it will underwrite around £4.3billion in loans for teams involved.

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow branded the Super League a "grotesque concept".

Speaking to BBC Radio Four, he said: "These proposals do away with sporting merit. It would enable a small number of clubs to be in this competition come what may and, for millions of people in football, that goes against everything the sport means and stands for.

"The idea is that the uncertainty that comes with sport, that makes it so compelling, that we all love, is actually damaging to the business model of these huge clubs.

"So the scheme is designed to take away that uncertainty, to give predictability to their businesses so that, if they're badly managed or have a poor year, they're still in the premier tournament. Does that sound like sport or football to you? To me it sounds a grotesque concept."

Johnson considering German-style system of 51pc fan ownership

Boris Johnson is considering a "range of options" to prevent the breakaway European Super League going ahead as proposed, including fan-ownership of clubs and clawing back coronavirus support loans.

Asked if the Prime Minister backs a German-style system of 51 per cent fan ownership of clubs, his official spokesman said: "I've seen a number of proposals that have been put forward as potential solutions or mitigations for this, I'm not at this stage planning on getting into each one.

"We're considering a range of options and the Prime Minister wants to look at everything we can do here to make sure these proposals don't go ahead as proposed."

The spokesman was also asked about a proposal of clawing back taxpayer money given to clubs in coronavirus loans.

"Again, another suggestion put forward. We want to look at everything possible, we're not ruling anything in or out, we want to look at the options," the spokesman said.

Asked about new legislation or existing competition regulations being used, he said: "We're not looking to rule anything out at this stage."

Former and current players unite in condemnation of European Super League

The Premier League's record goalscorer, Alan Shearer, said the league should retaliate.

Speaking via Coral, he said: "These 12 clubs dropped a huge grenade on the sport with this announcement, and the Premier League should respond with a grenade of their own and say, OK, you're going to be banned from the Premier League from next season, that's how they should deal with this.

"These clubs want to have their cake and eat it, they think they can play these Super League games in midweek and their domestic leagues at weekends, but I hope the leagues say no, that's not happening."

Former Arsenal and Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil, a World Cup winner with Germany in 2014, said on Twitter: "Kids grow up dreaming to win the World Cup and the Champions League - not any Super League.

"The enjoyment of big games is that they only happen once or twice a year, not every week. Really hard to understand for all football fans out there."

Ahead of Leeds facing Liverpool on Monday night, Gary Neville tweeted that United's players should "walk to the side of the pitch and just let them keep scoring."

He added: "They don't want competition..."

Leeds midfielder Mateusz Klich tweeted an image of a banner which read: "Created by the poor, stolen by the rich".

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says the move goes against everything football is based upon and represents a huge threat to the Premier League.

Wenger, now FIFA's chief of global football development, also believes the project will not get off the ground.

"I would say that it's a bad idea," he told talkSPORT. "Football has to stay united. That is the most important thing, and based on sporting merits and overall to respect the history of European football.

"I believe personally that this idea will not go far."

Former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera, now playing for Paris St Germain, said in a statement posted to Twitter: "I fell in love with popular football, with the football of the fans, with the dream of seeing the team of my heart compete against the greatest.

"If this European super league advances, those dreams are over, the illusions of the fans of the teams that are not giants of being able to win on the field competing in the best competitions will end.

"I love football and I cannot remain silent about this, I believe in an improved Champions League, but not in the rich stealing what the people created, which is nothing other than the most beautiful sport on the planet."