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Football

UEFA president says European Super League clubs have made ‘huge mistake’

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin urged England’s so called ‘Big Six’ to “come to their senses” as Boris Johnson told the football authorities that no action by the Government “is off the table” in seeking to stop the Super League.

The six are within a group of 12 European heavyweights who are founder members of the new competition, threatening to fundamentally alter the shape of football on the continent.

They have faced criticism from within the Premier League, with Everton and Brighton speaking out on Tuesday against the plans. The other 14 English top-flight sides are meeting to discuss a way forward following the weekend’s developments.

There are reports that some executives at the breakaway clubs are getting cold feet after 48 hours of almost unanimous criticism, and Ceferin warned: “Gentlemen, you made a huge mistake.

“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.”

Ceferin was addressing the 45th UEFA Congress in Montreux, and was preceded on the stage by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

He did not explicitly threaten to ban players at European Super League clubs from future World Cups, but did say to the clubs involved: “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 manager of one of the breakaway clubs, Pep Guardiola of Manchester City, was questioned about the Super League proposals in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Asked about the concept of a competition in which there is no promotion or relegation, Guardiola 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.”

The Super League will feature 15 ‘founder’ members who cannot be relegated, who would be joined annually by five other clubs.

Prime Minister Johnson held a meeting with the representatives from the Football Association, Premier League and football fan groups on Tuesday to discuss the proposed breakaway competition.

Downing Street said that the Prime Minister reiterated his “unwavering support” for their attempts to prevent the breakaway competition.

A No 10 statement said: “The Prime Minister confirmed the Government will not stand by while a small handful of owners create a closed shop.

“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.”

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Football