Boris Johnson hails English withdrawal from Super League as ‘right result’

Benjamin Cooper and Joe Gammie, PA
·3 min read

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the announcements by English football clubs of their planned withdrawal from the proposed European Super League as “the right result”.

The so-called Big Six English football clubs withdrew from the controversial new competition following widespread outrage and Mr Johnson’s threats of legislative action.

Manchester City were the first to confirm their departure from the proposed competition before Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham announced their withdrawals late on Tuesday, with Chelsea announcing their exit in the early hours of Wednesday.

Mr Johnson tweeted: “I welcome last night’s announcement.

“This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game.”

The Prime Minister’s comments follow those behind the League saying they will consider “the most appropriate steps to reshape the project” after the mass withdrawals.

In a statement, the league said: “Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions.

“Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community.”

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The clubs’ intended exit comes swiftly after proposals for the new league, revealed on Sunday evening, triggered a wave of criticism from the football community as well as politicians.

Mr Johnson had previously warned he was prepared to legislate to block the new league plans, accusing breakaway football clubs of forming “a kind of cartel”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said measures under consideration included preventing players from the clubs involved getting work visas, and the withdrawal of police funding for match days.

The plans for the breakaway league were also “unanimously and vigorously” rejected by the other 14 members of the English top flight following a meeting on Tuesday.

In a statement issued before most clubs had announced their intention to quit the new league, the Football Association (FA) welcomed the news that some clubs were withdrawing their support, highlighting that “the game has been unanimous in its disapproval of a closed league”.

It said the proposals “could have divided our game, but, instead, it has unified us all”.

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The FA’s statement added: “We would like to thank the fans in particular for their influential and unequivocal voice during this time, holding true the guiding principles of football. It is a powerful reminder that the game is, and always will be, for fans.”

Under the plan unveiled at the weekend, the six English clubs would have joined six leading Spanish and Italian clubs to set up an alternative competition to the European Champions League.

The proposal attracted particular anger as there would be no relegation from the Super League, regardless of how well clubs do on the field, although five of the best-performing teams from outside the league would be invited to participate each year.

It led to calls for the clubs involved to be expelled from the Premier League amid suggestions that their players could be barred from representing their countries in the World Cup or the European Championship.