Leeds United, Sheffield United and Premier League clubs ‘vigourously reject’ European Super League

The plans for a breakaway Super League involving England’s so-called ‘Big Six’ clubs have been “unanimously and vigorously” rejected by the other 14 members of the top flight.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 2:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 6:28 pm
Fans gather to protest against the European Super League outside Elland Road on Monday (Picture: Simon Hulme)

Those clubs, including Leeds United and SHeffield United, met on Tuesday for an emergency meeting after plans for the hugely controversial competition were confirmed late on Sunday night.

They have been widely condemned by the football authorities in England, plus UEFA and FIFA, as well as by the British Government, and have sparked widespread supporter protests.

A statement released by the Premier League after its meeting read: “The 14 clubs at the meeting unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition.

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Fans gather to protest against the European Super League outside Elland Road (Picture: Simon Hulme)

“The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those shareholders (clubs) involved to account under its rules.”

Chelsea fans gathered in large numbers outside Stamford Bridge ahead of Tuesday night’s Premier League match against Brighton to protest against the competition and their club’s planned involvement.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin urged the English breakaway group to “come to their senses” as Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the football authorities that no action by the Government is off the table in seeking to stop the Super League.

Altogether 12 clubs have signed up as founder members of the Super League, with the intention being that a further three clubs join to make up the core group, who cannot be relegated. Five additional clubs would then be invited on an annual basis to participate in a 20-team competition.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, whose club are one of the signatories, was asked about the plans and said: “It is not a sport where the relation between effort and success does not exist.

“It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed, it is not a sport where it doesn’t matter when you lose.”

There are reports that the commitment of some clubs is beginning to waver in the face of widespread opposition to the plans.

Ceferin, who referred to the orchestrators of the Super League plans as “snakes” and “liars” on Monday, said it was not too late for them to turn back when he spoke at UEFA Congress.

“Gentlemen, you made a huge mistake,” he said, addressing the English clubs directly.

“What matters is that there is still time to change your mind. Everyone makes mistakes.

“Come to your senses, not out of love for football, because I imagine some of you don’t have much of that, but out of respect for those who bleed themselves dry so that they can go to the stadium to support the team and want the dream to be kept alive.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino spoke at the same event. Though he stopped short of saying Super League players would be banned from future World Cups, he warned the breakaway clubs: “If some elect to go their own way then they must live with the consequences of their choice. They are responsible for their choice.

“Concretely, this means either you’re in or you’re out. You cannot be half in or half out.”

The Football Supporters’ Association attended a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Johnson, along with representatives from the Premier League and the Football Association.

Its chief executive Kevin Miles was encouraged by the “positive” response of Johnson in committing to legal action to stop the breakaway, adding in a statement: “There must be no more appeasement of these vultures.”

The breakaway competition is now the subject of a parliamentary inquiry, with Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee chair Julian Knight saying that “no one was off-limits” as it prepared to call witnesses to give evidence. No date has yet been fixed for the session.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford appeared to enter the Super League debate when he posted a picture on Twitter of a banner which carried a quote from the club’s legendary former manager Sir Matt Busby.

“Football is nothing without fans,” it read.

Paris St Germain president Nasser Al Khelaifi, one of the clubs targeted as founder members of the Super League - gave his clearest indication yet that his club will stay within UEFA.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“Paris St Germain will continue to work with UEFA, the European Club Association (ECA) and all stakeholders of the football family - based on the principles of good faith, dignity and respect for all.”

The PA news agency understands Al Khelaifi and PSG were repeatedly pushed to be part of the initial announcement, but resisted.

Al Khelaifi was ratified as one of the ECA’s representatives on the UEFA executive committee on Tuesday for a new three-year term.

Joining him is Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of reigning European champions Bayern Munich who spoke out against the proposals on Monday.

His club issued a categorical rejection of the Super League on Tuesday, in which he said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to make it explicitly clear that FC Bayern will not be taking part in the Super League.”

Amazon Prime Video, one of the emerging forces in the sports rights market, said in a statement it had not been involved in any discussions regarding the Super League.

“Amazon Prime Video understands and shares the concerns raised by football fans regarding a breakaway Super League,” a statement on its official Twitter account read.

“We believe part of the drama and beauty of European football comes from the ability of any club to achieve success through their performances on the pitch.”