The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
Crunch talks over breakaway impact
Aleksander Ceferin has warned Uefa is working to ban breakaway European Super League clubs and their players from its competitions “as soon as possible” and urged domestic leagues to follow suit.
Twelve clubs – including the Premier League’s socalled “big six” – are part of plans which would fundamentally alter the shape of European football.
This was supposed to be the day where the spotlight was on Uefa’s plans to revamp its competitions from 2024, but instead Ceferin faced questions about the impact of a different event entirely, one which he described as “a spit in the face” of football lovers.
He was visibly angered at the conduct of some of the leading orchestrators of the breakaway, including Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, describing them as “greedy” and adding: “They don’t know s*** about solidarity.”
It is understood the Premier League has called its other 14 clubs to an emergency shareholders’ meeting this morning, to which the “big six” – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – have not been invited.
It will be a chance for the clubs to consider what happens next. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the House of Commons that the Premier League and the Football Association were “considering a wide range of sanctions”, and warned the government stood ready to do “whatever it takes” to prevent the clubs from breaking away if the actions of the football authorities prove insufficient.
Ceferin and the rest of the Uefa hierarchy is still seeking legal advice on the steps it could take to sanction the “dirty dozen” – as he called them at one point – and said it was still too early to say when they would know what form the sanctions could take.
But he said: “We will take all the sanctions that we can and we will inform you as soon as we have a clear answer about it, but my opinion is that (we must do that) as soon as possible. They have to be banned from all our competitions and the players from our competitions.”
Three of the four Champions League semifinalists – Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid – are part of the breakaway while Arsenal and Manchester United are in the Europa League semifinals. There is a possibility of players belonging to those 12 clubs being banned from Euro 2020.
Last night the Scottish FA took a strong stance against the proposals for a breakaway competition.
A spokesman said: “The Scottish FA joins with Uefa and other National Associations in condemning the proposals by Europe’s wealthiest clubs to break away from the Uefa Champions and Europa Leagues to set up their own closed competition based on patronage rather than sporting merit.”