The football world is digesting the news that 11 of Europe’s biggest clubs have signed up for a breakaway European super league – a move vehemently opposed by UEFA, the Premier League and, evidently, Gary Neville.
An announcement on the formation of the new league is expected imminently, posing a direct threat to UEFA’s plans to revamp the Champions League from 2024, which itself was expected to be formally announced on Monday.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham are among 11 major European clubs who favour a European super league to a reformatted Champions League. Man City are expected to join them, along with three clubs each from Spain and Italy.
In an impassioned rant during Sky Sports’ Super Sunday coverage, pundit and former Man Utd defender Neville slammed the clubs involved, calling for them to be stripped of their titles and handed a points deduction.
“They’ve got no loyalty to this country and these leagues,” he said. “Enough is enough. There isn’t a football fan in the country who won’t be seething listening to these announcements.
“This is disowning your own club stuff, this. How can you even think to come and play a super league game here when you’ve left your 14 clubs in the Premier League behind to play against each other.
“Your Championship clubs dead, your EFL one and two clubs dead, your national league, your pyramid system that you’ve fought for for 150 years gone because of six clubs. Absolutely embarrassing, it’s never going to happen.
“Let them break away, but honestly punish them straight away. They should be punished heavily. Massive fines, points deductions, take their titles off them, who cares? Give the title to Burnley, Fulham.
“Let Fulham stay up, relegate United, Liverpool and Arsenal, because them three clubs are the history of this country, they should be the ones that should suffer most. They should know better.”
Later in Sky’s coverage, Neville continued: “It’s a criminal act against the football fans in this country.” When asked whether he believed the clubs involved would have the courage to actually go through with the break away, he added: “They’re bottle merchants, you never hear from the owners of these clubs. They’ve got no voice.
“Seriously, in the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis, football clubs at National League level going bust nearly, furloughing players, clubs on the edge in League One and Two, and these lot are having Zoom calls about breaking away and basically creating more greed. Joke.”
The new league would comprise 20 teams: 15 founding members who cannot be relegated, and five teams who qualify annually. It wouldn’t replace the Premier League or other domestic competitions, however – it would run alongside, similarly to how the Champions League currently works.