European Super League: Gary Neville brands Premier League, ‘Big Six’ settlement ‘an embarrassment’

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Gary Neville has branded the settlement between the Premier League and the ‘Big Six’ clubs who attempted to form a breakaway European Super League as an “embarrassment”, with the teams to pay millions of pounds - but crucially avoid point deductions.

On Wednesday, England’s ‘Big Six’ reached a financial settlement with the Premier League worth a combined £22million.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham announced themselves as founder members of the competition on April 18, but had withdrawn within 72 hours amid fan protests and opposition from the Premier League, UEFA, FIFA and even the British Government.

The clubs indicated their intention to remain in the Premier League, but their involvement in the Super League would have had a hugely negative competitive and commercial effect on the English top flight.

Before the news of the agreement was confirmed, Neville - an outspoken critic of the Super League proposals at the time, tweeted to announce his disappointment at the leniency of the reported sanctions, writing: “An absolute embarrassment!”

 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

The Premier League conducted an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Super League’s foundation, and its chief executive Richard Masters said last month that the probe would be conducted “efficiently, justly and appropriately”.

It is reviewing its regulations and drafting a new Owners’ Charter to prevent a repeat.

The Premier League peace deal follows a similar one struck between nine of the original 12 Super League clubs and European football’s governing body UEFA.

It announced a ‘Club Commitment Declaration’ on May 7, effectively tying the clubs to existing domestic and international competitions on pain of tough financial sanctions if a future breakaway was ever attempted.

The clubs agreed to pay a combined 15 million euro (around £13m) goodwill contribution to benefit children’s football and the grassroots game, and the withholding of five per cent of any UEFA competition revenue due to them for one season, to be redistributed among other clubs.

The Glazer family and Fenway Sports Group agreed to cover these costs related to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively. FSG is set to cover Liverpool’s share of the Premier League settlement too, which amounts to £3.7m, and that the Glazers will follow through on a pledge made by Joel Glazer at last week’s fans’ forum to cover United’s share.

The nine clubs face fines of 100m euro (£87m) each from UEFA in the event of any future breakaway attempt, the European governing body said last month.

The three clubs who have still not renounced the Super League - Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus - have had disciplinary proceedings opened against them by UEFA, with reports suggesting a Champions League ban is possible.

Those clubs have though mounted legal moves in their defence, claiming UEFA was in violation of European Union competition law in attempting to block the league and in threatening to sanction them.

Malcolm Clarke, the chair of the Football Supporters’ Association, said: “Whatever punishment the Premier League’s in-house process decides upon, it cannot guarantee that clubs won’t try similar again in the decades ahead.

“The European Super League’s legacy should be a total restructure of the game - an independent regulator, genuine power to fans, and wealth redistribution.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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