UK considers action against Super League; Bayern, PSG stay out

FILED - 05 July 2019, France, Decines-Charpieu: FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends press conference. Infantino has rejected proposals for a breakaway European Super League and threatened the clubs involved with unspecified
FILED - 05 July 2019, France, Decines-Charpieu: FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends press conference. Infantino has rejected proposals for a breakaway European Super League and threatened the clubs involved with unspecified "consequences." Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering legislation to prevent the so-called big six English football clubs from joining the European Super League as fall out to the breakaway plans which have split football continued on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain – who contested last season’s Champions League final – reiterated their commitment to the current structure with each seeing a key club official confirmed on the UEFA executive committee.

Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden met with representatives from the Football Association (FA), Premier League and fan groups where they discussed Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Manchester City’s plans to join the new league.

A spokesperson for Johnson said the premier would take “whatever action necessary” to put a stop to the plans.

“The Prime Minister confirmed the government will not stand by while a small handful of owners create a closed shop,” the spokesperson said.

“He was clear that no action is off the table and the government is exploring every possibility, including legislative options, to ensure these proposals are stopped.”

The league of 20 teams intends to have 15 permament members with German giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund reportedly offered spots despite public reluctance to join.

Der Spiegel magazine reported late Monday that Bayern and Dortmund have 30 days to respond to contracts dated April 17.

But Bayern chairman Karl Heinz-Rummenigge strengthened his club’s opposition to the breakaway, telling Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper: “We are not there because we do not want to be a part of it.

“We are happy to play in the Champions League and don’t forget the responsibility we have to our fans, who are fundamentally against such a reform. And we feel the responsibility to football as a whole.”

French side Paris Saint-Germain have also been offered a spot, Spiegel said, but Rummenigge and PSG chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi were confirmed on the UEFA executive committee at their congress on Tuesday as representatives of the European Club Association (ECA) in what seems – for now – to be a snub to the breakaway.

“As a football club, we are a family and a community; whose fabric is our fans – I believe we shouldn’t forget this,” Al-Khelaifi said.

‘We believe that any proposal without the support of UEFA – an organisation that has been working to progress the interests of European football for nearly 70 years – does not resolve the issues currently facing the football community, but is instead driven by self-interest.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino also rejected the plan and threatened the clubs involved with unspecified “consequences.”

There was “no doubt” in the position of the world football governing body on the matter, Infantino said at the congress.

“At FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove the creation of a Super League which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA.”

Infantino said the Super League was in contrast to these values and that UEFA had full support in opposing the move.

The Premier League ‘big six’ said Sunday they would join Spain’s Barcelona, Real and Atletico Madrid, and Italy’s Juventus, AC and Inter Milan, in forming a largely closed competition from August.

What sanctions UEFA, or national leagues, could take, remains unclear and would certainly meet legal challenges. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, however, said players could be excluded from national teams and clubs in the breakaway could face domestic penalties.

Following a meeting of the other 14 clubs, the Premier League said it was “considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those Shareholders involved to account under its rules.”

Downing Street has not ruled out intervening on work visas for players at the relevant clubs or withdrawing police funding for match days.

Infantino suggested that there would not be a compromise where clubs could play in their private competition but remain part of the current structure.

“If some elect to go their own way, then they must live with the consequences of their choice,” he said. “Concretely, this means either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in or half out.”

Ceferin accused the clubs of forgetting the history of the game and betraying fans.

“Selfishness is replacing solidarity. Money has become more important than glory, greed more important than loyalty, and dividends more important than passion,” he said in his lengthy opening speech to the congress.

“For some, supporters have become consumers, fans have become customers and competitions have become products.”

Ceferin said football belongs to everyone because it “is part of our heritage. Respect for history. Respect for tradition. Respect for others. This means something.”

However, aiming specifically at the owners of the six English clubs involved Ceferin said that while they had made a “huge mistake” there “is still time to change your mind.”

Liverpool’s city rivals Everton – themselves once part of an English ‘big five’ before the 1992 formation of the Premier League – were one of various clubs to comment. They said they were “saddened and disappointed to see proposals of … six clubs acting entirely in their own interests” and “tarnishing the reputation of our league and the game.”

And Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford also appeared to reject the breakaway in a tweet following opposition from Liverpool’s James Milner on Monday.

Super League and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had meanwhile told El Chiringuito TV late Monday that “we have to make it (football) more attractive. It is not something for the rich. We do this to save football.”

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