The UK government will do “whatever it takes” to block six Premier League teams from creating a new breakaway European Super league including withdrawing previous funding, according to culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
Dowden told MPs today that last night’s announcement from 12 clubs – including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – was “craven” and “appalling”, adding that the owners of the clubs involved had “decided to put money before fans”.
The culture secretary also announced a new fan-led review into English football that will be chaired by Tory MP Tracey Crouch.
Dowden said it was first up to English football authorities to find a way to end the crisis, but that the government would step in if necessary to block the emergence of the new league.
Politico reported today that the government was looking at blocking the move by introducing regulations that would ban majority corporate ownership of football clubs, similar to rules in place in Germany.
The government could also consider taking away previous Covid-19 emergency support to the six clubs.
Arsenal and Tottenham, for example, took out a combined £300m of loans with the Bank of England through the Treasury’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) scheme.
“We will put everything on the table to prevent this from happening,” Dowden said.
“We are examining every option from governance reform to competition reform and mechanisms that allow football to take place.
“Put simply, we will be reviewing everything the government does to support these clubs to play.”
He added: “A small handful of owners want to create a closed shop of elite clubs the top of the game – a league based on wealth and brand recognition rather than upon merit.
“We will not standby and watch football be cravenly stripped of the things that make millions across the country love it.”
Last night’s European Super League announcement sparked furious outrage from fans, former players and politicians across the UK who argue the new league would irreparably damage the sport domestically and internationally.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham announced last night they intended to join the new league, which has received roughly $6bn (£4.3bn) in backing from JP Morgan.
The new league will also involve AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.
The project is being launched as a new rival to the Uefa Champions League, which currently dominates European football.
The new proposed league will not be open to the best performing clubs across the continent each year like the Champions league, but instead will consist of the founding clubs every year with a few additional high achievers.
The Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, Uefa and Fifa have said that clubs and players involved will be banned from all their respective competitions if the Super League goes ahead.
Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin said today that no players from the 12 European Super League clubs will be allowed to play in the Euro 2020 international tournament this summer.
“Uefa and the footballing world stand united against the disgraceful self-serving proposal we have seen in last 24 hours from a select few clubs in Europe that are fueled purely by greed above all else,” he said.
On the announced fan-led review, Dowden said: “For many fans in this country the game is almost unrecognisable from a few decades ago.
“Season after season, year after year football fans demonstrate unwavering loyalty and passion by sticking by their clubs, but their loyalty is being abused by a small number of individuals who yield an incredible amount of power and influence.
“If the past year has taught us anything it is football is nothing without its fans.”