The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Crunch talks over breakaway impact

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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.”

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