Football’s civil war: ‘a criminal act against fans’
Backlash against the European Super League reaches fever pitch
It’s been a dramatic 24 hours in the world of football following the announcement that 12 elite clubs had become founder members of the European Super League.
Six English teams - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - were confirmed among the founders of the new competition, which is being slated to replace the Uefa Champions League.
AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the other founder members.
Governing bodies, leagues, clubs and politicians have condemned the plans - with many accusing the clubs of greed. Here we pick out what the football commentators and pundits have had to say about the Super League revelations.
Gary Neville on Sky Sports
‘Proposal will get kicked out because the fans will hate it’
Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville was visibly furious when talking about the Super League plans on Sky Sports yesterday. Labelling the proposals as “pure greed”, Neville tore into the founder clubs in an extraordinary rant and called it a “criminal act against football fans in this country”.
Today, Neville was still “fuming” about the Super League but doubts it will even happen. “The proposal will get kicked out because the fans will hate it, the governments will hate it, Fifa will hate, Uefa will hate it, the Premier League have come out already and say they hate it, you’ll hate it, I’ll hate it,” he wrote on Sky Sports.
‘Are you crazy?’
Neville’s on-air comments dominated this morning’s back pages in the UK, including the Daily Mirror and Daily Star who both had a headline saying “criminal”. The Daily Express and Daily Mail said it’s “war” while the i newspaper and Metro went with “civil war”.
It’s not just in England where there has been an angry reaction to the Super League announcement. Serie A clubs AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus have also come under fire from the media in Italy.
The front page headline of Tuttosport simply reads “are you crazy?” while La Gazzetta dello Sport called the trio of clubs “the bonfire of greed”. “This paper has always been opposed to any project that favours the interests of the few by betraying individual merits and undermining the national tournaments which make up the social and cultural roots of football,” said an editorial.
Jonathan Liew in The Guardian
‘Only someone who truly hates football can be behind Super League’
“Make no mistake”, says The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew, the Super League idea could “only have been devised by someone who truly hates football to its bones”. Someone who “hates football so much that they want to prune it, gut it, dismember it, from the grassroots game to the World Cup”.
With the sport now fully at war, Liew says there could be a logical conclusion to the debate: “You’ve been threatening to go it alone for years now. Well, guys: best of luck”.
Oliver Brown in The Daily Telegraph
‘Your plan shows you don’t care about British fans’
When the European Super League “detonated a nuclear explosion” across the football world with a statement issued at 11.15pm on a Sunday night, the clubs knew they would “incur a hellish wrath”, says Oliver Brown in The Daily Telegraph. However, despite the backlash on social media and in the press, the clubs and their owners calculated that it was a price worth paying in their “implacable resolve to go it alone”.
“Here is the harsh if unpalatable reality: Joel Glazer, Stan Kroenke, John W Henry and Roman Abramovich are not about to be deterred by the fans’ hue and cry”, says Brown, “in this quest, they are impervious to the nostalgia and romance of the game”.