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Liverpool captain James Milner against Super League

Leeds (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool midfielder James Milner said on Monday he hopes a European Super League (ESL) does not happen despite his club being one of 12 teams to sign up to a breakaway.

The English champions have teamed up with Premier League rivals Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal for the proposed 20-team competition.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan are the other founder members of the plan.

However, speaking after Liverpool’s 1-1 draw away to Leeds in the Premier League, Milner joined governments, governing bodies, fans and other players to criticise the proposals.

“There is a lot of questions. I can only say my personal opinion, I don’t like it and hopefully it doesn’t happen,” said Milner, who was Liverpool skipper for the fixture in the absence of the injured Jordan Henderson.

Fans from both clubs protested outside Elland Road before kick-off with the plans fiercely criticised by supporters’ groups as a cynical attempt by club owners to make more money.

“For the same reasons everyone else has been talking about it,” added Milner on why he was against the plans.

“It’s been difficult, we’ve had a game we’re trying to prepare for, but I can only imagine what has been said and agree with most of it.

“Players obviously have no say, so the welcome we got to the ground tonight felt a bit unjust. We are here to play football and have no control over it.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he was also not consulted by the club’s American owners and criticised plans for the competition’s proposed format.

Under the proposals, 15 founder members would compete in tournament every year without having to qualify.

Liverpool are in danger of failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League as they sit sixth in the Premier League, behind Leicester and West Ham, two clubs excluded from the plans.

“One thing I understand and that people think is not right is the competitiveness, I get that,” Klopp told Sky Sports.

“I like the fact that West Ham might play Champions League next year. I don’t want them to, because I want us to be there, but I like that they have the chance.”

Klopp was previously quoted as saying “I hope this Super League will never happen” and questioned whether fans’ interest would be maintained by watching Liverpool face the likes of Real Madrid every year.

In 2019, the German said: “For me, the Champions League is the Super League, in which you do not always end up playing against the same teams.

“Why should we create a system where Liverpool faces Real Madrid for 10 straight years? Who wants to see that every year?”

Klopp admitted his preparation for Monday’s game had been disturbed by the news breaking late on Sunday.

“My opinion didn’t change,” he said when asked about his previous comments on a Super League.

“Obviously, I heard first time about it yesterday and already trying to prepare a very difficult game against Leeds United.

“We got some information, not a lot to be honest, most of it you can read in the newspapers or whatever. 

“We were not involved in any processes, not the players, not me, we didn’t know about it. The facts are out there and we will have to wait how it develops.”

Liverpool could face sanctions from the Premier League for being involved in the breakaway, while players face the possibility of being banned from representing their national teams.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin described the breakaway as a “disgraceful self-serving proposal from a select few clubs purely fuelled by greed”.

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