London (AFP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a meeting of football chiefs and fans’ representatives on Tuesday as they consider what action to take over the proposed European Super League.
It comes as FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the world governing body “disapproves” of the widely condemned breakaway competition, which has triggered threats of legal action and punitive measures.
Twelve powerful clubs — six from England, and three each from Spain and Italy — have signed up for the Super League, which offers guaranteed spots for its founding members and billions of dollars in payments.
The English clubs, the Premier League’s so-called ‘Big Six’, are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.
It has prompted a furious reaction from fans and officials, with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin saying it was motivated by “greediness, selfishness and narcissism”, and Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp saying its closed nature was “not right”.
It is understood the Premier League has called its other 14 clubs to an emergency shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday, to which the Big Six have not been invited.
Johnson told fans he would do everything he can to give the European Super League a “straight red” card.
Writing in the Sun newspaper, he said he was “horrified” at the implications for clubs up and down the country, which had a “unique place” at the heart of their communities.
In a direct message to fans, he said: “It is your game — and you can rest assured that I’m going to do everything I can to give this ludicrous plan a straight red.”
Protests took place outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground and Liverpool and Leeds fans gathered outside Elland Road before their Premier League match on Monday to voice their opposition.
– Threat to grassroots –
Prince William, the English FA’s president and grandson to Queen Elizabeth II, also shared his concerns over the proposed new competition.
“Now, more than ever, we must protect the entire football community — from the top level to the grassroots — and the values of competition and fairness at its core,” he tweeted.
The English clubs joined forces with Spanish giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid as well as Italian trio Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan to launch the Super League.
Five more clubs will qualify annually for the 20-team, midweek competition, in which two groups of 10 will precede two-legged quarter- and semi-finals and a one-off final. The competition is due for launch “as soon as is practicable”.
It constitutes a serious threat to UEFA, who together with the English, Spanish and Italian football authorities said the Super League clubs could be banned from domestic and European competition.
The breakaway announcement came just hours before UEFA announced a new, 36-team format for the Champions League, which had been conceived to placate the continent’s biggest clubs.
Britain’s culture and sports secretary Oliver Dowden has raised the possibility of invoking competition laws to block the Super League.
Competitions watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) told AFP it would study the details of the plan.
“The proposals for a European football super league have attracted high levels of public interest,” a spokesman said.
“It is a complex area and we will be carefully considering any competition concerns relating to these proposals.”
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