Fans of the Premier League clubs leading the breakaway European Super League have slammed the controversial plan, branding it the “ultimate betrayal”.
Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham are all involved in the new league, alongside Spanish trio Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Italian clubs Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan.
Reaction to the incendiary scheme has been furious, with football’s governing bodies Fifa and Uefa, as well as all the leading domestic leagues condemning the “cynical” plan.
While their clubs would gain financially from the move, supporters of the Premier League teams involved were united in their contempt for such a nakedly greed-motivated project.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said in a statement: “Our members and football supporters across the world have experienced the ultimate betrayal.
“The CST is appalled that Chelsea FC are among the rumoured teams to have signed up for this alternative competition and hope that these reports are untrue. This proposal would risk CFC from being banned from other competitions and could jeopardise the future of our club.
“This is a decision of greed to line the pockets of those at the top and it has been made with no consideration for the loyal supporters, our history, our future and the future of football in this country. This is unforgivable. Enough is enough.”
- ‘Cynical and greedy’ -
Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly said it was “appalled” by the decision of Fenway Sports Group, the club’s US-based owners, to take part in the plan.
“FSG have ignored fans in their relentless and greedy pursuit of money. Football is ours, not theirs. Our football club is ours not theirs,” they said in a social media post.
SOS chairman Joe Blott added: “It is purely financially, cynically, greedily driven without any thoughts for the football fan, and that’s the challenge that we have.”
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust called the club’s agreement to join “the death of Arsenal as a sporting institution”.
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust labelled the plan an insult to the legacy of the players who died in the 1958 Munich air crash.
“A Super League based on a closed shop of self-selected wealthy clubs goes against everything football, and Manchester United, should stand for,” they said.
“To bring forward these proposals without any fan consultation, and in the midst of a global pandemic when people should be pulling together not serving their own selfish interests, just adds insult to injury.
“When Sir Matt Busby led us into the European Cup in the 1950s, the modern Manchester United was founded in the tragedy and triumph that followed.
“To even contemplate walking away from that competition would be a betrayal of everything this club has ever stood for.
“We urge everyone involved in this proposal including Manchester United to immediately withdraw from this proposal.”
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust said the European Super League was a “concept driven by avarice and self-interest at the expense of the intrinsic values of the game we hold so dear”.
Arsenal and Spurs fans unite
Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur fans enjoy a fierce rivalry but the announcement of the European Super League achieved the rare feat of uniting them virtually as one in condemning it.
Both the north London clubs – just four miles (6.4 kilometres) apart – make up the Premier League big six that signed up.
Arsenal and Spurs fans – many of whom have suffered in the pandemic through losing their jobs or ill health – have been left cold.
Their antipathy comes despite both clubs struggling to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Arsenal’s best hope lies in winning the Europa League – they are in the semi-finals – whilst Spurs are five points off fourth-placed West Ham in the league.
Tim Payton, a board member of the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST), told AFP the Super League would be “the death of football”, going against ideals of “sporting competition and qualifying on merit”.
“We need the FA (Football Association) and the Premier League to be firm with these clubs,” he said. “Kick them out, don’t let them play.
“How much money are they going to earn if they can’t sell season tickets for next year in the Premier League? We must challenge this at every level.”
Arsenal fan Daron Doolan, a 38-year-old London taxi driver, said greed had blinded the clubs. “It’s terrible, it’s just greed taking over, really,” he told AFP.
“They don’t think about the fans, all the fans that travel to all the games as well.
“It’s going to ruin all the money passed on to grassroots football, it’s completely going to destroy the whole structure of the English football.
“I think they didn’t take the fans’ into consideration at all, it’s all about greed and business.”
- ‘It is disgusting’ -
However, another Gunners fan 57-year-old healthcare worker Antonio Gazzella was a rare voice speaking up in support of the breakaway.
“I’m happy with that,” he told AFP.
“I would like to watch AC Milan, Real Madrid or Arsenal with Bayern Munich (who are not part of the breakaway), the big boys’ business.
“Arsenal playing with Slavia Prague – no disrespect – but Slavia Prague don’t have the big names to play with Arsenal.”
Spurs fans had to contend with a second piece of news affecting the club on Monday that Jose Mourinho had been sacked after just 17 months.
The fans shed few tears over his firing but their anger over the Super League was evident.
Maddie Watson, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, said outside the club’s ground that she felt “betrayed because they don’t think about the fans”.
“It is disgusting to do it in a pandemic when people are losing so much money and they are doing this super league just to gain more money,” she said.
Delboy Johnson, 67, a retired lorry driver, used some colourful language to sum up his feelings before adding: “I think it should stay the way it is.
“I have been a Tottenham supporter for 40 years. This is not the right way to go about it.”
Another Spurs fan, unemployed Gary Goodman, 57, said it went against what football historically stood for in England.
“It’s not fair. This is a football country. Keep it for the fans.”
(Reports by AFP, photos by AFP and Reuters)