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Boris Johnson Says "No Action Is Off The Table" After Meeting Football Bosses Over European Super League Plans

Boris Johnson said he was "horrified" by the plans ahead of a meeting with leading football officials

4 min read

The Prime Minister met with senior football officials to discuss the new Super League as he vowed to give the plans a "straight red".

Officials from football's governing bodies, the FA and the Premier League, as well as members of fans' representatives groups met with the PM to discuss plans to block the controversial European Super League (ESL) proposals which have come under intense criticism from fans.

It comes after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Monday the government would do "whatever it takes" to stop six of England's largest teams from joining the new breakaway league, including a potential ban on signing players from abroad.

Plans for the ESL triggered an outpouring of anger on Sunday after it was announced Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur planned to join six other European clubs as "founder members" of the new league which would play a series of high-profile midweek games but would not see them being promoted or relegated based on performance.

In a statement after the meeting Downing Street confirmed the PM had offered his "unwavering support" to national officials to take "whatever action necessary" to halt the plans.

"They have the government's full backing to take whatever action necessary to put a stop to these plans," a No10 spokesperson said.Boris Johnson confirmed that the government would do all it could to ensure a "closed shop" was not created for a small group of clubs, and reiterated that "no action is off the table" to prevent such a scenario. This could include legislation options.

Labour leader Keir Starmer backed the government's plans to block the creation of the Super League, telling The Independent he was "really detecting now a willingness among politicians to legislate if that is necessary".

"It's not an area where you'd expect legislation, but the strength of feeling is such that if the government is prepared to bring forward legislation, we would certainly look at it and support it," he added.

"The government is talking a good game, it has the power to bring forward legislation, and it now knows the other parties would almost certainly support it so the government has within its power to do something. The question is whether it will do that.

"They've got a majority, they've got support from other parties including ours, if they need to do something, there's no excuse for not doing something, given the level of support."

As part of the government response, Dowden also announced a "root-and-branch examination" of English football to be led by former sports minister Tracey Crouch as he hit out at clubs for deciding to "put money before fans".

In a tweet on Monday, Crouch said she was "delighted" to be given the role, adding: "I can assure fans that I will work with you, and for you, to consider how we keep the traditions of integrity & fair competition at the heart of the sport".

Shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens revealed she had joined shadow sports minister Alison McGovern in writing to the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate whether the plans could be a breach of competition law.

"Rivalries have been put aside. Everybody is against this other than the people who are organising and participating in the Super League," she told Sky News.

"Fans should lead on this and their voices have been loud and clear over the last couple of days."

"But there are some urgent steps that can be taken. I have written alongwith the shadow sports the Competetion and Markets Authority asking them to investigate whether this breaches competition law.

She added: "We are also asking the CMA if they will advise parliament whether or not new legislation is necessary in order to prevent this competition from going ahead because it is anti-competitive and it does represent a cartel.

"If the advice is that legislation is needed then we will offer our support to the government to introduce primary legislation immediately."

The CMA is yet to indicate whether they believe the ESL to be in breach of competitions rules. 

"It is a complex area and we will be carefully considering any competition aspects of these proposal," a CMA spokesperson said. 

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