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By Ben Guerin
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Boris Johnson Vows To Work With Football Authorities To Block European Super League

4 min read

The Prime Minister has pledged to work with football's governing groups to block six English football clubs from forming a breakaway European competition.

Speaking on Monday, the PM said he would "look at everthing we can do" to block the proposals, saying it was not "good news for football in this country".

The intervention came after Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur signed up as "founding clubs" in the new super league which includes other major European teams.

The plans would see the 15 founding members always offered a place in the league, even if they underperform compared to the remaining clubs who would be granted entry based on merit.

But the proposals have provoked a backlash from many industry figures, including Uefa and the Premier League, who have urged the government to step in to regulate the sport.

During a visit to Gloucestershire on Monday, Johnson said: "I don't like the look of these proposals, and we'll be consulted about what we can do.

"We are going to look at everything that we can do with the football authorities to make sure that this doesn't go ahead in the way that it's currently being proposed. I don't think that it's good news for fans, I don't think it's good news for football in this country.

"These clubs are not just great global brands...they're also clubs that have originated historically from their towns, from their cities, from their local communities.

"They should have a link with those fans, and with the fanbase in their community. So it is very, very important that that continues to be the case."

And he vowed to work with football's governing authorities "to make sure that this doesn't go ahead in the way that it's currently being proposed".

It comes after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urged officials in his department to draw up a list of "very robust options" to take action against the six clubs if they press ahead with the new league, according Politico's London Playbook.

It is expected further details of the government's response will emerge during a Commons statement from Dowden later today.

These could include following a model used in Germany which forces clubs to have a majority fan ownership in an effort to take decision making powers away from commercial investors.

A Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) official said: "It's not gone unnoticed that German clubs are not in this and they have fan representation. We'll look at all options."

Plans have also come under fire from Labour leader Keir Starmer, who said the proposals would only benefit a "small elite".

"The reason why football is the most important and loved sport across the globe is because it is a simple game anyone can play and anyone can enjoy," he wrote.

"The 'super league' proposal leaked today cuts across all the thing that make football great. It diminishes competition. It pulls up the drawbridge. It is designed for and by a small elite.

"But worst of all, it ignores the fans."

He added: "Football in empty stadiums hasn't been the same over the last year. I can't wait to get back to games.

"But this proposal risks shutting the door on fans for good, reducing them to mere spectators and consumers.

"The clubs involved in this proposal should rethink immediately.

"And if they don't, they should face the consequences of their actions. Because football without fans is nothing."

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross, who is an assistant referee, told the BBC the plans were a "deeply regrettable move".

"It would have a massive effect on football, and the danger is that fans would be left with something poorer for this," he added.

David Bernstein, former Football Association and Manchester City chairman, said he was "ashamed" by the behaviour of the clubs.

"I've supported Manchester City all my life. It's a club I love. But I'm really ashamed, as I know Gary Neville has said he is about his old club Manchester United, and I think Jamie Carragher and Liverpool," he told the BBC's Today programme.

"I'm ashamed as clubs with that history should have great responsibility to the rest of the game.

"I think the arrogance of these half a dozen English clubs is something to behold."

Greg Dyke, fellow former FA chairman, said he believed the clubs were playing a "game" and that the plans would not go ahead.

"I actually don't think it will happen. I think it is a game that is going on, but I don't think it is good for football in any way at all," he said.

"It is interesting that of these clubs I think only one of the six is in any way owned by a British organisation. Most of them are owned by American organisations and they are trying to put into European soccer what happens in America."

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