Government will 'put everything on the table to prevent European Super League'

ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott explains what's happened and what the reaction has been

Government ministers said they will do "whatever it takes" to prevent England's 'Big Six' football teams joining a European Super League.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City form six of 12 teams from Spain and Italy involved in plans to breakaway from the Champions League, in a move which has upset fans.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the government is working with football authorities to ensure the plans do not go ahead as planned.

In his Commons statement, Mr Dowden said that if the sport was unable to act, then ministers were prepared to step in to protect the national game.

“Be in no doubt, if they can’t act, we will. We will put everything on the table to prevent this from happening,” he said.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the government is working with football authorities to ensure the plans do not go ahead as planned. Credit: PA

“We are examining every option from governance to competition law to mechanisms that allow football to take place.

“We will be reviewing everything Government does to support these clubs to play. We will do whatever it takes to protect our national game.”

He added: “These six clubs announced this decision without any consultation with football authorities or with Government. Worst of all, they did it without any dialogue whatsoever with their own fans.

“It was a tone deaf proposal, but the owners of those clubs won’t have been able to ignore the near-universal roar of outrage from all parts of the football community over the past 24 hours."

Earlier, Boris Johnson said the breakaway plans were not “good news for fans” or for UK football.

“I don’t like the look of these proposals,” he told reporters on a campaign visit to Gloucestershire.

“We are going to look at everything that we can do with the football authorities to make sure that this doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed.”

Klopp, speaking to Sky Sports ahead of his side’s game against Leeds, stuck by his words from 2019 when he said he “hoped this Super League will never happen”.

“It didn’t change. My opinion didn’t change,” the German said.

“It is a tough one, people are not happy with that. I can understand that, but I cannot say a lot more about it because we were not involved in any processes – not the players, not me. We didn’t know about it. The facts are out there and we will have to see how it develops.

“I have no issues with the Champions League, I like the competitive factor of football.

“I like the fact that West Ham might play in the Champions League next year. I don’t want them to because we want to do that, but I like that they have the chance.”

A number of banners appeared outside Anfield in protest against Liverpool’s inclusion in the breakaway faction – with Klopp keen for the relationship between his players and the club’s fans to remain undamaged.

Players who participate in the newly-formed league could also be banned from representing their national team, meaning they would not be allowed to play in World Cups or the Euros, the boss of Uefa has said.

Uefa President Aleksander Čeferin said the idea by 12 of Europe's top clubs to breakaway from their national leagues was a "spit in the face of all football lovers".

In a bid to discourage players from joining the European Super League, Mr Čeferin said: "The players who will play in the teams that might be playing in the closed league will be banned from playing the World Cup, and so they will not be able to represent the national teams at any matches."

Issuing stinging criticism to the league's founding clubs, the Uefa president labelled the idea a "disgraceful self-serving proposal" which has been "fuelled purely by greed".

The move has been roundly criticised by fans and public figures alike.

Prince William, president of the FA, said he "shares the concerns of fans about the proposed Super League and the damage it risks causing to the game we love".

The Secretary of State for Sport told MPs the government would "put everything on the table to prevent" the Super League from going ahead, if football authorities such as the FA, FIFA and Uefa could not halt plans.

Leeds fans gather outside Elland Road to protest against the creation of the European Super League.

The board of the European Club Association (ECA), from which the 12 clubs resigned on Sunday night, have already met to fill key positions – not least replacing former chairman Andrea Agnelli who is one of the architects of the Super League.

A statement said: "The board was unanimous in its condemnation of the actions of the departing members, which it holds to be self-serving and to the detriment of the game’s well-being and in clear opposition to ECA’s values.

"We believe that European Club Football can be reformed from within the system to achieve the collective best interests of all stakeholders in the game."

  • ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott say the Super League are not concerned by the extreme negative reaction

In short - what is the European Super League and why's everyone talking about it?

Six English teams have signed up to join the league - Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool.

They would join Spain's Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletico Madrid, as well as Italy's Juventus, Internazionale and AC Milan.

The 12 clubs would be guaranteed a spot in the breakaway competition every season, regardless of performance in their domestic leagues and would stand to earn hundreds of millions of pounds.

The proposals set out how the 20 club league would permanently include the founding members, plus eight other teams promoted from their premier national leagues.

Owners of all 12 clubs have said they want the league to begin "as soon as practicable".If the league does go ahead it could see star players such as Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount and Trent Alexander-Arnold, all banned from representing England at the World Cup and Euros.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is among those who have attacked the proposals, and he has committed to block them.

"I don't think that it's good news for fans, I don't think that it's good news for football in this country," Mr Johnson said.

Critics have questioned how a number of the six clubs can justify their inclusion in the league, given four of those, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs, are all currently outside the Premier League's top four.

Uefa's Mr Ceferin reserved strong criticism for Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, who both worked closely with UEFA - Agnelli as a long-time president of the European Club Association.

"He's probably one of the biggest disappointments, or the biggest disappointment of all," said Ceferin.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin is not a fan of the European Super League. Credit: AP

"I spoke with him also on Saturday afternoon. He said, 'These are all only rumours. Don't worry, nothing is going on'. And then he said, 'I'll call you in one hour'. And he turned off the phone."

Ceferin was speaking to outline the changes being made to the Champions League, where he added pointedly: "Teams will always qualify and compete in our competitions on merit, not a closed shop run by a greedy, select few."

With Liverpool in action at Leeds on Monday night, fans of both clubs gathered outside Elland Road before kick-off, while a plane flew overhead with a banner reading “Say No To Super League”.

At Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, fans displayed a banner reading “Created by the poor, stolen by the rich”.

Fans greeted coaches at Elland Road in Leeds with boos and chants. Credit: ITV News

Ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright called out the Gunners for becoming a founder club in a video he posted on Twitter.

"I literally can’t believe it when I saw Arsenal’s name come up on the screen as one of the teams," he said. "It is shameful."

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher said he believes supporters and those within football can stop the Super League getting off the ground.

"My message to everyone is that these clubs think this is a done deal, I don’t think it is," he said.

Former Manchester United defender told Sky Sports he was "enthused by the reaction of government, by royalty, by the whole of football and by the fans".