Plans for a controversial breakaway European Super League involving some of England’s biggest football teams will be raised in the Commons on Monday after Boris Johnson warned against the “very damaging” change.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will make a statement on the proposals, which has led to condemnation from MPs across the House.
With many fans, we are concerned that this plan could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game. Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that undermines this is deeply troubling and damaging for football. (2/3)— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) April 18, 2021
Ministers have insisted the Government will be “on the side of fans” after Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City announced they have signed up to the plan, joining teams from Italy and Spain.
The Prime Minister said: “Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.
Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 18, 2021
They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country. (1/2)
“They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country.
“The clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps.”
Mr Dowden said he shared the concern of fans that the plan “could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game”.
Government minister Chris Pincher told Sky News: “Our concern is for the fans, that they have the best possible sporting experience that they possibly can, that they’re able to support their team.
“And we don’t want to see a footballing elite, which is by the elite, for the elite, of the elite – we want to make sure grassroots sport is supported and that fans are able to enjoy the kind of experience they’ve had over the past several years.
“So if there’s a choice to be made we’re on the side of the fans.”
The plans would see the breakaway teams create a competition to rival the Champions League, but it would not feature relegation or promotion – leading to the accusations of a “closed shop”.
Teams would play each other in midweek while still competing in their domestic leagues.
Uefa, the football associations of England, Spain and Italy, plus the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A have also spoken out against the move.
The reason why football is the most important and loved sport across the globe is because it is a simple game anyone can play and anyone can enjoy. 1/5— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) April 18, 2021
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the plan “cuts across all the things that make football great”.
Arsenal supporter Sir Keir said: “It diminishes competition. It pulls up the drawbridge. It is designed for and by a small elite. But worst of all, it ignores the fans.”
Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “The Government must step in to prevent a small number of greedy, rich owners destroying the game we all love.”
European Commission vice president Margaritis Schinas said: “We must defend a values-driven European model of sport based on diversity and inclusion.
“There is no scope for reserving it for the few rich and powerful clubs who want to sever links with everything associations stand for.”