London (AFP) – Plans for a breakaway European Super League provoked a furious reaction from the British media on Monday as the six English Premier League clubs involved were universally condemned.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are among 12 teams to sign up to the plan, also featuring Spanish trio Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, as well as Italy’s Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
The breakaway clubs have been lured by a 3.5 billion euro ($4.2 billion, £3 billion) pot to sign up to the competition which would take them out of the Champions League but not their domestic leagues.
The British media were quick to turn their guns on the greed-motivated owners of the Premier League teams involved.
The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew said: “How the world’s most popular sport managed to hand over so much of its power and wealth and influence to people who despise it.
“Because make no mistake: this is an idea that could only have been devised by someone who truly hates football to its bones.
“Who hates football so much that they want to prune it, gut it, dismember it, from the grassroots game to the World Cup.
“Who finds the very idea of competitive sport offensive, an unhealthy distraction from the main objective, which in a way has always been capitalism’s main objective.”
Matt Dickinson, writing in The Times, was hardly more sparing in his opprobrium, comparing the owners’ tactics to that of blackmailers.
– ‘Shameless exploiters’ –
“These shameless exploiters of football, and of our passions, have reached for the old playbook, the same blunt weapon of a European Super League,” he wrote.
“Depressingly, we have to say ‘why not?’ when it has worked for them every time before.
“Like the blackmailer who says he will walk away for a grand but comes back asking for double, then triple, preying on our weakness, these clubs are never satisfied, never bought off.
“A billion? Make it a gazillion. Two Champions League places? Call it four. A coefficient safety net? Make it a closed league. Always more, more, more.”
Daily Mail chief sportswriter Martin Samuel said punishment for the clubs competing in the “despicable plastic competition that threatens the existence of English football” should be brutal.
He suggests a united front of opposition which has worked in the past could be as effective now.
“The utter contempt the protagonists have for the rest of the game,” he wrote.
“For the fans, especially, but for the clubs, the players, the coaches, the history and traditions; for the wider good, for the national team, the football pyramid, for everything that football has meant to communities and society stretching back across two centuries.
“It was the backlash from the ordinary supporters that killed the 39th game proposal, and it can kill this too.
“Cancel the League Cup final (next Sunday Manchester City play Tottenham Hotspur), because why should the EFL present a trophy to one of two clubs whose greed threatens to destroy their crown jewel competition, the only reason they sit at the broadcasters’ table.”
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