A furious Gary Neville has hit out at plans to launch a breakaway European Super League, labelling the English clubs involved a “disgrace” and calling for them to face sanctions from the Premier League.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are among six Premier League clubs set to be part of the project, which is intended to rival UEFA’s Champions League, according to Sky News.
The plans have prompted widespread condemnation, with the Premier League issuing a statement saying a super league would “destroy” the premise of open competition, and UEFA threatening to ban participating clubs from existing domestic competitions.
Sky Sports has contacted the Premier League clubs involved for comment, including Manchester United who declined to give a response regarding the proposals.
Speaking on Sky Sports after Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Burnley, Neville accused the Premier League clubs involved of betraying their history and their supporters.
“The reaction to it is that it has been damned and rightly so,” said Neville.
“I’m a Manchester United fan and have been for 40 years of my life but I’m disgusted, absolutely disgusted.
“I’m disgusted with Manchester United and Liverpool the most. Liverpool, they pretend – ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone, the people’s club, the fans’ club’.
“Manchester United, 100 years, borne out of workers from around here, and they’re breaking away into a league without competition that they can’t be relegated from?
“It’s an absolute disgrace.
“Honestly, we have to wrestle back the power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league – and that includes my club.
I’m a Manchester United fan and have been for 40 years of my life but I’m disgusted, absolutely disgusted
“I’ve been calling for 12 months for an independent regulator to bring checks and balances in place to stop this happening.
“It’s pure greed. They’re imposters.
“There are 100-odd years of history in this country from fans who have loved these clubs and they need protecting.
“I’ve benefited from football hugely. I’ve made money out of football and I invest money in a football club.
“I’m not against money in football but the principles and ethos are of fair competition, so that if Leicester win the league, they go into the Champions League.
“Manchester United aren’t even in the Champions League. Arsenal aren’t even in the Champions League – they are an absolute shambles of a football club at the moment. Tottenham aren’t in the Champions League.
“Have they got a God-given right to be in there? Honestly, the time has come now to get an independent regulator and stop these clubs having the powerbase. Enough is enough.”
Neville: ‘Deduct them all points tomorrow’
Neville believes the English clubs involved deserve to face points deductions and financial sanctions from the Premier League.
“Deduct them all points tomorrow,” he said. “Put them at the bottom of the league and take the money off them.
“Seriously, we have got to stamp on this. It’s criminal. It’s a criminal act against football fans in this country, make no mistake about it.
“This is the biggest sport in the world and it’s a criminal act against the fans. Simple as that. Deduct points, deduct their money, and punish them.”
I’m not against the modernisation of the competition but this is a grab, an absolute grab, and the timing is hideous
On the clubs’ owners, Neville added: “They’re bottle merchants. They’ve got no voice. They will probably hide in a few weeks and say it was nothing to do with them.
“In the midst of a pandemic and an economic crisis, with football clubs at National League level nearly going bust, furloughing players, with clubs on the edge in Leagues One and Two, these lot are having Zoom calls about breaking away and basically creating more greed? Joke.”
He continued: “You talk about big clubs but Manchester United have acted like a small club for eight to 10 years. Arsenal act like a small club.
“Some of the other clubs in the league who are doing really well, they act like bigger clubs. Being a bigger club is about acting properly at the right time.
“I’d like to think that Manchester United and Liverpool would stand there in the face of this and say, ‘something’s not right here. Let’s collaborate with the game to try to get a better competition, a better Champions League’.
“I’m not against the modernisation of the competition but this is a grab, an absolute grab, and the timing is hideous. What world are these people living in, to think they can bring this forward and this moment in time?”
‘Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal should know better’
Neville was particularly angered by Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal’s reported involvement given their rich histories.
“There isn’t a football fan in this country that won’t be seething listening to this conversation and these announcements,” he added. “This is disowning-your-own-club stuff, this.
“How can you even think of watching the Super League here [at Old Trafford] when you’ve left your 14 clubs in the Premier League behind to play against each other?
“Your Championship clubs, dead, your EFL clubs, dead. Your pyramid system that you’ve fought for for 150 years, gone, all because of six clubs? Absolutely embarrassing. It’s never going to happen.
“If they announce a letter of intent that has been signed, those six clubs, they should be punished heavily. Massive fines, points deductions, take their titles off them, who cares?
“Give the title to Burnley or Fulham. Let Fulham stay up, relegate Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal because those three clubs are the history of this country and they should be the ones that suffer most.
“They should know better. The history and tradition that runs through those clubs is enormous but they leave a lot to be desired at this moment in time.
“Liverpool Football Club, seriously. I haven’t got a great relationship with them at all – I don’t like them and they don’t like me.
“But the one thing I always thought about them was that they were honest, they had integrity, they would look after their people. That’s gone. Forget that.”