Labour Would Back Emergency Laws To Block Football European Super League
Labour has said it will back Boris Johnson if he brings forward emergency laws to stop six English clubs breaking away to form a proposed European Super League.
Shadow minister for culture and sport, Jo Stevens, told PoliticsHome the government could introduce emergency primary legislation this week to introduce an independent regulator if they are serious about protecting the game for fans.
It emerged last night that Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham plan on joining the European Super League (ESL), which so far has 12 members across Europe with three more clubs set to join. The new league would run mid-week fixtures and see 15 permanent members and five qualify annually.
It has been widely condemned today as a money-making scheme for the club owners.
"The government just needs to get on with it, because until they do something, nothing is going to change, and the billionaires and hedge fund owners who are essentially running elite football in this country can just continue doing what they want," Stevens told PoliticsHome.
Options to block the proposal could include exploring economic competition rules, and emergency legislation for an independent regulator for football, Stevens believes.
"We want the government to do whatever it takes to stop this proposal happening," she continued.
"They are in power. They are in control of parliamentary business time."
Stevens said the government could "count on our support" on primary legislation to deal with the issue and that if there was will from government, they could move quickly on this.
Labour leader Keir Starmer described the ESL as a "a cartel of clubs breaking away" and said he was profoundly against it.
"Those lower league clubs have been really struggling. I think they would say for ‘heavens sake, pull together' for the sake of the whole football family, don’t just break away for your own ends," he said.
And Stevens accused the government of being "asleep at the wheel" on football finance and governance for the past decade.
"They have literally done nothing," she said.
Labour has included changes to the way football is run in their last four manifestos. The Tories had promised a fan-led review in 2019 but this is yet to get underway.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden gave a statement in the Commons this afternoon on the formation of the ESL. Earlier today the Prime Minister condemned the English clubs planning to break away to a European Super League.
"I don't think that it is good news for fans, I don't think it's good news for football in this country," he said on a visit to Gloucestershire.
As part of any review into the way football is governed in the UK, Stevens said the government could look at the German model where clubs are 51 percent fan owned. Due to their ownership structure, it was notable that no German clubs have joined the European Super League proposal.
Last October a survey of English football supporters found 79 percent of fans would support an independent regulator being set up in law.
The survey, commissioned by former FA chairman David Bernstein, asked a series of questions on the Premier League’s financial power and the viability of smaller clubs.
Last night former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville, who has been a long-standing campaigner for an independent regulatory, said the clubs that had joined the ESL were motivated by “pure greed”.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe