The same Boris Johnson who managed to loosen ties with the European Union for the United Kingdom to regain its freedom and seek more advantageous alliances has added his voice and strength to those of UEFA on Monday to attack the project announced by 12 major clubs – Among them, six English – to launch a European Super League that would put the Champions League competition at risk. “I don’t think it’s good news for the fans, or for the football of this country. These clubs are not just big global brands, but teams that historically originated in their small and big cities, in their local communities, and have a close bond with all the fans, ”said the British Prime Minister. The six great English clubs, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, have joined from the first moment in a bet that threatens to completely turn the world of football upside down.
And they have sparked one of those perfect storms in which British tabloids begin to salivate and politicians see the perfect occasion to get on the bright side – which is always the populist – of the battle. “The Six Scoundrels,” cries the Daily Mail in a huge graphic with the faces of the six owners of the English teams: three Americans (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal), a Russian (Chelsea), an Emirati (Manchester City) and only one Briton (Daniel Levy, Tottenham ). “Civil war in football”, headlines the same newspaper in a line very similar to that of the rest of the tabloid media.
The Johnson administration plans to bring the matter into parliamentary debate, and has already begun filtering alleged legislative maneuvers to hinder or prevent the creation of the European Super League. The Ministry of the Interior is studying the withdrawal of police security in the meetings, to force the clubs to finance such expensive deployments out of pocket. It is also considered to take the matter before the British courts, and accuse the promoter clubs of breaking British competition laws. And even, in an extreme maneuver, the property laws could be changed to resemble the German model, in which the limit of private participation cannot exceed 49% of the shares to always maintain a majority of 51% of the partners. And a much more effective threat, which would have great popular support: forcing the clubs to return the millionaire state aid they have received during the pandemic. “We are going to study with the sports authorities everything that is possible to do to prevent this proposal from going forward in the way it is currently raised,” Johnson has promised during an electoral visit to the town of Gloucestershire.
Johnson will not enjoy the coming battle for himself. The leader of the Labor opposition, Keir Starmer, has also reacted quickly: “This proposal involves giving fans the door in their noses, and turning them into mere spectators and consumers,” he said on his Twitter account.
Former footballer and manager Gary Neville, a Manchester United legend, has been one of the toughest in his onslaught against the wayward club owners: “It’s pure ambition. They are impostors. The owners of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester City have nothing to do with football in this country. It is the fans who come to the field who matter (…) I plan to pounce on them with the force of a ton of bricks, ”Neville claimed. Alex Ferguson himself, the most famous coach in the history of Manchester United and still a member of its board of directors, has also taken a stand against the club’s presumed immediate interests: “The idea of a European Super League takes us away from what they have been 70 years of history of European competitions. During my time in charge of United, we played four Champions League finals, and they were always the most special nights, ”Ferguson recalled.
The Conservative Party deputies have found a cause much more noble and attractive than to question, due to their innate instinct for rebellion, the social distancing measures of the pandemic that they had dedicated themselves to criticizing throughout the year. “It is a completely cynical move, a plot to get more money. And it comes from all these American owners who have brought the ideas of the NFL with them. [la liga nacional estadounidense de fútbol americano]”, Damian Collins, former president of the Parliamentary Committee on Culture and Sports and one of the leaders of the group of political representatives who has begun to move to avoid the maneuver of the big clubs, has denounced.
The Premier League has sent a letter to the 20 teams in the competition in which it sets out its position. Richard Masters, the president of the English league, demands that the rebels “immediately withdraw from the maneuver before irreparable damage is done.” According to the newspaper The Times, the text includes the warning of possible sanctions in the form of expulsion from the competition or reduction of accumulated points.