Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City were in danger of being thrown out of the Champions League and Europa League semi-finals last night as football authorities, fans and the British government declared war on The Super League.
The four remaining English clubs in Europe were warned they could be expelled from their respective competitions as soon as Friday, while the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford were facing a ban from playing at this summer’s European Championship.
Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur were also rendered footballing outcasts, along with Real Madrid, Barcelona and the rest of the “dirty dozen” clubs behind a plot that has sparked arguably the biggest outcry in the history of the game.
The backlash against the largely closed competition intensified last night as:
⬤ The UK Government vowed to do “whatever it takes” to stop The Super League.
⬤ The Premier League called a meeting of its remaining 14 clubs that could see action taken against the ‘Big Six’.
⬤ Bruno Fernandes became the first player from a Super League club to cast doubt on it.
⬤ United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was branded a “snake” by the president of UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin, who described the rebel tournament as “a spit in the face of all football lovers”.
⬤ Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain and Porto refused to sign up for it and Champions League reforms were passed by Uefa.
⬤ The Super League began legal action to prevent the competition being killed off before it begins.
Meanwhile, Liverpool were last night met at Elland Road by protesting Leeds United fans and players ahead of their 1-1 draw in the Premier League, with manager Jurgen Klopp brandishing the targeting of his squad for his club’s Super League involvement “a joke”.
Leeds players warmed up in t-shirts branded with the slogan ‘Earn it on the pitch. Football for the fans’, in reference to the plans of England’s rebel six.
A banner with the same words was placed behind one of the goals, and the same t-shirts were provocatively left in the Liverpool dressing-room, inviting the visitors to join the movement against the Super League proposals.
That action failed to stop unprecedented steps being taken to do just that, including to ban what Ceferin dubbed the “dirty dozen” from the Champions League and Europa League – potentially even from the rest of this season’s competitions.
“My opinion is that as soon as possible they have to be banned from all our competitions and the players from all our competitions,” he said.
Jesper Moller, a member of Uefa’s ruling executive committee, told Danish television: “The clubs must go, and I expect that to happen on Friday. Then we have to find out how to finish (this season’s) Champions League.”
However, sources at the governing body downplayed the chances of such speedy action, which the Super League clubs themselves were confident would be legally unenforceable. Those same clubs were equally dismissive about Ceferin’s pledge to ban their players from the Euros – perhaps even this summer’s tournament – and his claim FIFA would follow suit with the World Cup.
“We are all united against this nonsense of a project,” Ceferin said. “I cannot stress more strongly how everyone is united against these disgraceful, self-serving proposals, fuelled by greed above all else.”
Ceferin was scathing about “liars” Woodward and Andrea Agnelli, the chairman of Juventus, after being led to believe they backed the Champions League reforms. “We might be naive in not knowing we have snakes close to us. Now we do,” the UEFA boss added.
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