MPs announce probe into European Super League plans

Nicholas Cecil
·4-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

MPs today summoned major players in the European Super League to give evidence in Parliament as the backlash over the plans grew.

The Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee met this morning and later announced that it will hold a hearing to probe the impact of the breakaway tournament.

They will also examine what steps need to be taken to protect the future of football in the UK.

Committee chairman Julian Knight said: “The DCMS Committee has given its strong support for a hearing on these momentous developments in the football world.

“We are in discussion with key players and will want to hear from major stakeholders as the impact of the new European Super League proposals unfold.

“We will reflect the widely-expressed concerns of supporters which will be at the centre of our investigation. We welcome the Government’s fan-led review announced yesterday, finally given the impetus to go ahead by these seismic events.

“No-one will be off limits in our determination to establish what needs to be done to safeguard the preciously held enjoyment the sport gives to people and to protect its legacy for the future.”

The DCMS committee’s inquiry was announced just hours after the European Super League proposal was debated in the Lords, with a call for the clubs taking part to be hit with a “non-dodgeable” windfall tax equating to 100 per cent of their TV revenues.

The proposed new tournament put forward by Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, together with six leading Spanish and Italian clubs, has provoked widespread outrage.

Boris Johnson has told the football authorities he is prepared to legislate to prevent the formation of the closed league, which would not feature relegation or promotion.

Speaking in Parliament, Tory former pensions minister Baroness Altmann, a Tottenham Hotspur supporter, said: “This seems to revolve around money rather than football.

“I would ask the minister whether the Treasury might consider international tax co-ordination to address this issue via financial means?”

Digital, culture, media and sport minister Baroness Barran said: “We think the football authorities are best placed to push back on these proposals in the first instance and they have our backing, but nothing is off the table if they fail to do so.”

Backing the idea of a “fiscal solution to this problem”, Tory peer Lord Moylan said: “By way of imposing a non-dodgeable tax on sports clubs joining closed leagues, which should be, I would suggest, equivalent to 100 per cent of their broadcasting revenues.

“Would the minister be willing to put this to the Chancellor of the Exchequer?”

Lady Barran said there was a “great elegance” to the suggestion.

Condemning the planned league, former Labour minister and non-affiliated peer Lord Austin of Dudley said: “It’s a closed shop cartel, its anti-competition, anti-fair play, anti the very ethos of sport.

“Given that this is just about money, wouldn’t the threat of a windfall tax make them think again?”

Lady Barran said: “Nothing is off the table.”

Labour peer Lord Faulkner of Worcester, former vice president of the National League, branded the plan a “grotesque project”.

Independent crossbencher Lord Laming said: “The clubs supporting this proposal often claim that their fans are the beating heart of all that they do, yet sometimes it seems the loyalty of these very fans count for little.”

He called for the clubs to be required to put the plan to a vote of season ticker holders.

Former Tory Treasury minister Lord O’Neill of Gatley expressed his “disgust” at the development.

He said: “It’s the culmination of many, many years of the style of ownership that has been so permissible under the way football has evolved.

“I am extremely sad that my own obsession in life of football, Manchester United, is right in the middle of it.”

He urged the Government to consider legislation aimed at encouraging a partial fan-based ownership model, similar to that in Germany.

Former Bank of England governor Lord King of Lothbury, a lifelong Aston Villa fan, said: “Would the minister agree that the outpouring of concern about the proposed European Super League shows that the organisation of professional football is not just a matter for private clubs to determine among themselves, and that the relationship between clubs and their fans is not the same as that between the supermarket and its customers?

“Has not the time come to create a regulatory framework within which the governance and finances of the game can be managed with a degree of competence that has been sadly lacking in recent years?”

Lady Barran said this would be covered by the announced fan-led review of football governance, to be headed by former sports minister Tracey Crouch.

Read More

Shameless Super League plans show wrong lessons learned from pandemic

Premier League considering all actions available to halt Super League

Manchester City manager Guardiola critical of Super League plans

TikTok and Shopify: an exciting new way to reach customers