London – Former players and fans across the globe have slammed plans for a breakaway competition by some of Europe’s top clubs, calling the move a “soulless” money grab which will turn supporters away from the game, with Chelsea’s Supporters’ Trust describing it as the “ultimate betrayal.”
Twelve of Europe’s richest clubs launched the Super League on Sunday to rival the Champions League, triggering swift condemnation from authorities and political leaders.
“The plans … sound soulless,” former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy told the BBC.
“We’ve already seen strong opposition from leagues and federations who would be affected, and fans as well. Next, I think we will see a backlash from managers and players, too.”
Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus are among the leading members of the new league, but UEFA has threatened to ban them from domestic and international competition and vowed to fight the move.
Murphy said players would be risking too much to take part in the Super League.
“You’re also being told you can no longer play for your country if you are part of this,” said Murphy.
“Again, that’s what you dream of doing as a kid, so I just don’t see many footballers agreeing to that, which actually gives me hope that this whole idea will quickly fall apart.”
Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane said the Super League was all about “money and greed.”
“Let’s hope it’s stopped in its tracks,” he told Sky Sports.
The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust said it was “deeply concerned” at their club’s involvement while Arsenal’s Supporters’ Trust described it on Twitter as “the death of the club as a sporting institution.”
In statement, the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust (CST) said: “Our members and football supporters across the world have experienced the ultimate betrayal.
“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.”
Unlike Chelsea, Tottenham’s record of winning silverware has been lamentable over the past few decades and they have not won the English title since 1961. Their last trophy was in 2008 and while they have a state-of-the-art 60,000-seat stadium regarded as one of the best in Europe, they are unlikely to qualify for the Champions League next season.
“The Board of Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust is deeply concerned by rapidly escalating reports linking Tottenham Hotspur Football Club with a breakaway European Super League: a concept driven by avarice and self-interest at the expense of the intrinsic values of the game we hold so dear,” a statement on the THST website said.
“Along with fan groups at Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, we wholeheartedly oppose the move to create a closed shop for Europe’s elite.”
The Supporters’ Trust said a poll of its members in 2019 found 81% were against Tottenham joining a Super League with only 3% agreeing.
“We call on (owners) ENIC, the temporary custodians of our great club, to distance themselves from any rebel group and to consider the implications fully before making decisions that will fundamentally change the course of history for Tottenham Hotspur forever,” it said.
“The future of our Club is at stake.”
Responding to the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust post on Twitter, Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly group replied: “Solidarity needed now more than ever.”
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards said the new competition had sidelined fans.
“What happens to the memories of what the fans have had over the years?” Richards said.
“They’re just forgotten about for the sake of money, and that’s the way football has become now. I think it’s an absolute disgrace.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said he was “sickened” that his former club’s reputation was being “tainted by association” with the Super League.
“Football executives always make the mistake of believing they are the most influential force in football,” he wrote in a column for The Telegraph. “They swiftly realize that without the supporters, they are weak and powerless.”
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