Gary Neville continued his blistering attack on European Super League plans and founding clubs in his latest podcast – read and listen in full here.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham confirmed on Sunday night they had agreed to join a breakaway European Super League amid widespread opposition.
FIFA has voiced its discontent, while UEFA has vowed to take legal action about a potential seismic development for the future of football.
Neville – who will be on Monday Night Football – spoke passionately about the plans in the immediate aftermath of the breaking news, declaring himself “disgusted” and he continued his furious takedown of the plans in his latest podcast.
Will Super League be approved? Not a chance…
“The proposal will get kicked out because the fans will hate it, the governments will hate it, FIFA will hate, UEFA will hate it, the Premier League have come out already and say they hate it, you’ll hate it, I’ll hate it. And they are so disconnected from reality to think they could put this forward at any time, let alone now. Honesty, I say I’ve got no words for them but I’ve had a lot of words.
“It won’t go through, not a chance.
“I said during the game that I thought the clubs that signed up to it should be deducted points, that includes this club [Manchester United] – the club that I love and I’ve supported all my life. But I’m ashamed of them, absolutely ashamed – for two reasons.
“Firstly, that they would want to sign up to a competition that is franchise football essentially, with no promotion or relegation, almost like that right to play the biggest games all the time – that’s not the ethic and ethos Manchester United was built on.
“Forget [the owners]. They have nothing to do with this football club. They’re just custodians. The fans that come into this ground that supported this club for 100 years are the people that matter and we want competition and the ethos of the club. Now some might say that’s gone already, but forget [the owners] – they have nothing to do with this football club, in terms of the actual history of the club and the long-term future, they’ll be gone. They’re just passengers in the night, as far as I’m concerned.
“I’m fuming, that Manchester United football club, that have been pioneers, that should be leading from the front, that should be looking after everyone in this country. National League, North and South clubs are in disarray, National League cubs are going bust and furloughing players, there are League Two clubs on the edge. The whole system and pyramid at this moment is struggling.
“And the timing is my second point. So Man Utd as a football club to vote for this is disgusting. The timing of it, the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of an economic crisis, not just in football but in this world, to demonstrate greed rather than compassion is an absolute shocker as far as I’m concerned.
“And I’ve been critical of the people at this football club over the past few years for some of their football decisions, but this is another level – this is another level. And you can put all the other five owners in the same box as far as I’m concerned.”
“Liverpool football? Liverpool? The club of the people? You’re a shambles. Just like this lot are here, you’re all the same. You’ll never walk alone and all that rubbish we listen to? And the stuff here about looking after things? Honestly, I’m absolutely livid. The timing is as bad as the proposal.”
Appoint an independent regulator
“Honestly, I’m raging with it, because I’ve represented all five or six major stakeholders in this game: I’ve lived on the management committee of the PFA, and I’ve been a union player person for the past 25 years in football, I’m a club owner in the EFL, I played for England and under the FA for 10 years and five years as a coach, I’ve been in the Premier League, either working with Sky or playing in the league for 20 years and I’ve used the League Management Association for contracts when I was a coach for a short period of time, but I’ve lost faith in the ability of the organisations in this country to be able to make sure football is fair and balanced. It’s gone beyond.
“I’ve been part of a group that has called for an independent regulator to protect football from itself. We have to protect football from itself because we’ve got imposters that are coming in to own clubs in this country. The FA has got no power, the EFL are the baby brother to the Premier League, and the Premier League is run by the clubs; the clubs are run by the owners, and that’s the powerbase in this country. The powerbase has to be regulated so that there is a fair deal for fans, there is a fair deal for club’s at all levels – that grassroots are looked after.”
“We’ve got to stop the powerbase of football in this country being in the hands of the top six clubs in the Premier League. We have to protect football from itself. To protect Manchester United from Manchester United and what Manchester United need to be.
“I want this to be the greatest football club in the world, bar none. I want it to win the Champions League every year, the Premier League every year – but deserve to win it. I want them to have more money than the other clubs so they can spend more on players so we can see the great managers and players out here at Old Trafford, so it’s not the money part but it’s the idea they’re entitled. You’re not entitled.
“I spent 25 years under a manager here playing when every single team talk he talked about the ability to do the right thing, work hard, to do the right things every single match, to fight to the end – never feel entitled, never feel complacent, come back every year and do it again. Not ‘we can have a year off because we’re in a franchise league and we don’t go down’. That is not what football in this country is about.”
Money is fine, selfishness isn’t
“Yes, players can still earn fantastic money, we still want the best managers in the world, we still want wonderful football matches, but it can all be there, if we just have the simple view, that if you were growing up at the age of five, that you wanted to be in love with football. Go back to when you were a kid. I’m not against the money in football, I own a football club that puts money in, I’m a player who earned a fortune out of the game, I’m a pundit who earns a lot of money out of the game, so I’m not against that – but the selfishness of what’s going on at the moment is absolutely incredible.
“Manchester United aren’t even in the Champions League. Tottenham, Arsenal, they’re not in the Champions League – and they want to be in it every year just as a right? I’m a United fan. I was in the Champions League every year for 20 years because we earned the right every single year to be in it. That’s it. You earn the right to play at the highest level.
“If Leicester win the league, they go in the Champions League. I mean the joke of Arsenal earlier, the shambles against Fulham. And you’ve basically got a situation where Leicester wouldn’t be in the Champions League, or Super League, or whatever you want to call it.”
“I had the privilege of sitting on League Two calls, as one of the owners of a League Two club, and I sit in the calls, and during the pandemic, for eight to 10 months, I was on the Football show for the first few months, begging for a rescue package to come forward, to save clubs, and to see desperate chairmen and owners on the calls, and it took 10 or 12 months for a rescue package of £30m, £30m! £1.5m per club in the Premier League, by the way – £30m came forward of grants to League One and Two. Imagine in any walk of life being in a situation whereby you couldn’t be a saviour quite easily and simply, you wouldn’t put yourself in that situation just to do the right thing. They can’t do anything right.”
‘Proposals should have been about correction of football’
“Honestly, enough is enough. I’m fuming with it and I get more fuming the more the days go on. People think that initial reaction during the game was emotional, it wasn’t. I would come down on them like a ton of bricks and I wouldn’t even hesitate – even my own club.
“The 75,000 people that come in this stadium and the 200m fans around the world that they have, they’d all come down on them like a ton of bricks, because any fan who has a heart or an ethos or an element of understanding about where football has come from… it’s about that five-year-old coming into this stadium and feeling the magic; knowing that you could lose every week or win every week and you’d be disappointed and hurt.
“We went down in the ’70s and we came back up. We’ve lost FA Cups and we’ve not been in the Champions League for several of the last few years… that’s the beauty of it. Mason Greenwood [who scored two goals against Burnley] reminds me of the beauty of the game; a player who’s been at the club since he was eight, fighting to get into the first team, emerging as a talent. He should be playing in a competitive league that’s part of a pyramid and in competitive European competition.
“The ‘Big Six’? Thirty years ago that was Villa, Forest, Everton… 70 years ago? Burnley, Bolton, Wolves.
“In the midst of a pandemic, the proposals that should have been coming forward should have been about the correction of the game and sustainability; more for grassroots, for the FA, more to distribute into the Football Foundation, more distributed down the leagues.
“There should have been compassion at this time; looking after health firstly but looking after each other and thinking about a better a fairer game moving forward for all clubs, for all grassroots football, for all fans that want to come and watch. It should be accessible.
“It costs a lot of money these days to go to the cinema, or the theatre, or for a meal. Prices are rising all over the world and Manchester United, to be fair to them, have held their prices for a number of years. But this proposal could be the tipping point. These people are faceless. They’re the quiet power and it’s dangerous.
“I’m all for moving forward, modernising and creating prosperity but you think about Sir Matt Busby, Herbert Champman… people who have immersed themselves in these clubs. Even Jurgen Klopp; will he really like this? Bill Shankly, imagine him hearing this! Not looking after your own. Sir Alex Ferguson, where every team talk was about the Govan shipyards where everyone had to look after each other.
“That’s gone because these people are trying to look after themselves. It’s greed, it’s selfish, it’s inappropriate, it’s disgusting and it needs punishing. Football has been a little bit of a saviour for people during these times – sport in general. It could have been the good that came out of this pandemic. But they’ve grabbed defeat from victory.”
Why has this come about now? How would it be financed? And what does it all really mean?
What we know so far about the plans that threaten to cause a ‘civil war’ in football…