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Sunak will ban Premier League clubs from joining European Super League


Rishi Sunak’s government has vowed to ban Premier League clubs from joining the European Super League, as the breakaway venture attempts a relaunch.

The European Court of Justice ruled that Uefa and Fifa acted unlawfully by stopping the league – opening up fresh efforts by A22 Sports to kickstart the controversial project.

The “big six” English clubs sparked outrage from their fans and opposition from Boris Johnson’s government in 2021 when they secretly agreed to play in the new league.

Responding to Thursday’s bombshell court ruling, the Sunak government made clear that forthcoming legislation, the Football Governance Bill, would be used to block British clubs from joining any new league.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the previous attempt to create a breakaway league was a “defining moment in English football and was universally condemned by fans, clubs and the government”.

They said: “We took decisive action at the time by triggering the fan-led review of football governance, which called for the creation of a new independent regulator for English football.”

The DCMS statement added: “We will shortly be bringing forward legislation that makes this a reality, and will stop clubs from joining any similar breakaway competitions in the future.”

The April 2021 attempt to launch the ESL saw street protests by angry supporters

(Getty)

Six Premier League clubs had signed up to the ESL plans – Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur – creating howls of outrage across the football world.

A review led by former sports minister Tracey Crouch saw the government push forward plans for a new football regulator, with new legal powers to stop clubs from quitting current UK leagues to play in breakaway projects.

When announced in April 2021, Mr Johnson pounced upon the unpopularity of the European Super League with fans and vowed to block the big English clubs from joining. The then PM condemned the idea as a “cartel” and said it was “against the basic principles of competition”.

Although the ESL continues to be supported prominently by Real Madrid and Barcelona, England’s big six – chastened by the reaction two years ago – are believed to have gone cold on the plan.

Manchester United said on Thursday that they remain “fully committed” to working within Premier League and Uefa structures. And the Premier League said it “continues to reject any concept” of a European Super League.

‘Big six’ clubs were condemned for initial attempt to join the breakaway league

(PA)

England’s top flight division said it remains committed to the “clear principles of open competition” and said supporters “have time and again made clear their opposition to a “breakaway” competition”.

The original plan was condemned for its attempt to attend fair competition by sealing off the elite clubs from the rest in a bid to protect lucrative TV deals.

But the revamped plan set out by ESL’s backers A22 on Thursday proposed a wider system of 64 men’s clubs which would involve promotion and regulation through three tiers. A planned two-tier women’s league would involve 32 clubs.

Following the landmark court ruling, the Football Supporters’ Association condemned what it called the “zombie” project. “There is no place for an ill-conceived breakaway super league … While the corpse might continue to twitch in the European courts, no English side will be joining.”

Senior Conservative MP Dame Caroline Dinenage – chair of the culture, media and sport select committee – warned the big six clubs not to engage with the ESL’s fresh push to get off the ground.

“The announcement of the European Super League in 2021 prioritised finances over fans, and any revival of it isn’t in the interests of English football,” she said.

Backing the government’s plan to block clubs from joining, she added: “I hope that English clubs will have learnt from the reaction in 2021, and will be focused on fan engagement and the much-needed football governance reforms that the government has promised.”



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