Boris Johnson slams European Super League 'cartel'
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Andrea Agnelli, one of the key men behind the failed attempt to form a European Super League (ESL), claims Boris Johnson scuppered the plans for the breakaway league over fears it would undermine Brexit.
The Super League collapsed in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night, less than 48 hours after six of England’s biggest and richest clubs announced their intentions to be involved.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham had all signed up to form a new 20-team league which was designed to replace the Champions League.
The largely closed nature of the competition – England’s big six among 15 teams guaranteed to be involved every season – sparked a huge backlash and UEFA and FIFA were among those to threaten that clubs and players would be banned from all other competitions, even international tournaments.
And after Chelsea and City both quit the Super League on Tuesday night, their rivals soon followed as all released statements confirming they would no longer take part.
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Juventus chairman Agnelli was a chief protagonist in the plans and was branded a “snake” over his involvement by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, the godfather of the Italian’s daughter.
Speaking on Wednesday, the 45-year-old – who admitted the project is now dead in the water – was impacted hugely by the British Prime Minister’s vow that he would step in to shut it down.
“I have had speculation to that extent that if six teams would have broken away and would have threatened the EPL (Premier League), politics would have seen that as an attack to Brexit and their political scheme.”
Johnson had threatened to drop a ‘legaslative bomb’ to prevent the six English clubs from helping to form the Super League.
He said on Tuesday from Downing Street: “How can it be right to have a situation in which you create a kind of cartel which stops clubs competing against each other, playing against each other, properly with all the hope and excitement that gives to the fans?
“It goes against the basic principles of competition. Football was invented and codified in this country, it is one of the great glories of this country’s cultural heritage.
“These clubs, these names, originate from famous towns and cities in our country.
“I don’t think it right that they should be somehow dislocated from their home towns and home cities and taken and turned into international brands and commodities to circulate the planet, propelled by the billions of banks, without reference to the fans and those who have loved them all their lives.”
Nine of 12 clubs have now withdrawn from the Super League – with only Real Madrid – whose president Florentino Perez serves as the president of the ESL – Barcelona and Juventus still behind the plans.
But Agnelli admitted: “To be frank and honest no, evidently that is not the case [the ESL cannot continue].
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“I remain convinced of the beauty of that project, of the value that it would have developed to the pyramid, of the creation of the best competition in the world, but evidently no. I don’t think that project is now still up and running.”
Liverpool principal owner John W Henry became the first powerbroker to speak publicly about the failed Super League plot in a video message published by the Reds’ social media channels on Wednesday morning.
He took sole responsibility for the club’s decision-making and said: “Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.
“And I want to apologise to Jurgen [Klopp], to Billy [Hogan], to the players and to everyone who works so hard at LFC to make our fans proud. They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption.
“They were the most disrupted and unfairly so. This is what hurts most. They love your club and work to make you proud every single day.”
He added: “I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days. It’s something I won’t forget. And shows the power the fans have today and will rightly continue to have.
“If there’s one thing this horrible pandemic has clearly shown, it’s how crucial fans are to our sport and to every sport. It’s shown in every empty stadium. It’s been an incredibly tough year for all of us; virtually no-one unaffected.
“It’s important that the Liverpool football family remains intact, vital and committed to what we’ve seen from you globally, with local gestures of kindness and support. I can promise you I will do whatever I can to further that.”
Elsewhere, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will step down and it is thought that he underestimated the backlash for the Super League, and that is why he has tendered his resignation.
Woodward was due to leave anyway at the end of 2021 but accepts he has made a huge mistake amid the fallout over the ESL plans and could leave in the summer, according to the Manchester Evening News.
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