Football

Uefa chief to EPL’s big 6: Still time to abandon ESL

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin told the English Premier League's big six clubs, who have joined a breakaway European Super League (ESL), that they had made a "huge mistake" and urged them to reconsider.

Speaking yesterday at Uefa's congress in Switzerland, the Slovenian criticised the attitude of owners whom he said view the game as a "product" and fans as "consumers" but then spoke directly to the EPL rebels.

"I would like to address the owners of some English clubs. Gentlemen, you made a huge mistake," he said. "Some will say it is greed, others disdain, arrogance or complete ignorance of England's football culture, but actually it doesn't matter.

"What matters is that there is still time to change your mind... English fans deserve to have you correct your mistake."

Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal have signed up as part of the 12 founders of the 20-team Super League, along with top Spanish and Italian clubs.

Fifteen of the 20 clubs will be guaranteed places in the new competition, in contrast to the Champions League which requires teams to qualify every season.

Ceferin added: "Diversity is what makes European society unique. Uefa competitions need the Atalantas, Celtics, Rangers, Dinamo Zagrebs and Galatasarays of this world.

"The big clubs today were not necessarily big clubs in the past, and there is no guarantee that they will be big clubs in the future...

"If the clubs that dominated European football 30 or 40 years ago had decided to form a Super League, what would it have looked like?

"Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Hamburg, Steaua Bucharest, Porto, PSV (Eindhoven), Red Star (Belgrade)...

"That would be a Super League, but football changes and some do not understand, they see only changes in their bank accounts."

At the congress, Fifa president Gianni Infantino warned of consequences for the breakaway clubs.

He said: "If some go their own way, then they must live with the consequences... either you are in, or you are out. You cannot be half in and half out."

Also speaking at the congress, the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach warned that the existing structure of European sports is under threat by self-interest and pure commercialism.

"It is challenged by a purely profit-driven approach that ignores the... social values of sports and real needs in the post-coronavirus world," said the German.

Pressure is also mounting from the authorities.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned "no action is off the table" - including new legislation - to stop the ESL, after meeting with football chiefs and fan groups yesterday.

The EPL said it will hold those shareholders to account, after a meeting between the league chiefs, England's Football Association and the 14 other EPL clubs. Meanwhile, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has called an emergency meeting of EPL club captains to discuss the ESL.- AFP, REUTERS

PEREZ: ESL WILL SAVE FOOTBALL PAGE 15

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