Club icons from English football’s self-styled ‘Big Six’ clubs have spoken out against the European Super League project which could leave the current European football landscape in tatters.
The sides announced their hugely controversial plans to join the rebel, breakaway competition on Sunday evening, to huge and widespread condemnation.
Arsenal’s Martin Keown, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, Tottenham’s Alan Mullery, Liverpool’s Mark Lawrenson, Chelsea’s Pat Nevin and Manchester City’s Micah Richards have given their thoughts on the plan to Sportsmail.
Legends from each of English football’s Big Six have spoken out against the rebel league plans
MARTIN KEOWN, ARSENAL, 449 APPEARANCES
ON my first day at Arsenal I was handed a little booklet which explained the conduct expected of me. Even now I remember flicking through it and seeing the club’s motto: ‘Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent.’
That was spelled out to me and everyone else who joined.
But in becoming one of the dirty dozen to sign up for this Super League, Arsenal are forgetting who they are, what they are and who they represent.
We have to hope this talk of breaking away is extreme posturing at the negotiation table. These club executives have always wanted to extract more money from UEFA, and news of this Super League comes as the 36-team Champions League is being approved.
If this was a game of poker, they’d be going all-in. Now we wait to see if they win or if it backfires. I hope it doesn’t go through and believe it won’t. To create a closed shop flies in the face of fair competition. When Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in 2018, he said, ‘Take care of the values of the club’. This doesn’t fit with that wish.
You never hear from these mega-rich owners. Now they’ve put their managers in awkward positions as they face questions about why they want to run away and form their own league. But it isn’t on them. It’s on the greedy owners who don’t seem to care about the values of football.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are the six
WAYNE ROONEY, MANCHESTER UNITED, 559 APPEARANCES
What Gary Neville is saying is right, but let’s see what comes from it. Whether it’s good news or bad news, we can all have a clearer opinion on the situation.
I completely understand the frustration from everyone. It’s strange timing and a strange situation to come out.
Football is working fine the way it is at the minute. Let’s see if they’re looking to improve that or it’s a backward step. What you have to look at is the history of English football. If this is something on top of what we’ve got, the competitions the teams are playing in, then that’s a decision for those clubs to take.
If they totally break away from the Premier League and the domestic cup competitions in England, I don’t think that would be a great look.
ALAN MULLERY, TOTTENHAM, 374 APPEARANCES
The whole idea is absolutely diabolical. I saw Gary Neville on the television and thought he spoke outstandingly well. It’s the principle of the matter.
You’re talking about getting rid of what we’ve called football for more than 100 years and now they want to change everything when there’s nothing wrong with our game here in England.
People always wanted to play here and to come and watch our football. We have always been able to attract top-class players. Now we find these clubs want to break all that up and change everything because it means they will get huge sums of money.
I don’t know about the finances behind it — it seems to be about money and nothing else. I find it quite sad.
Supporters have displayed widespread and almost unanimous opposition to the proposed idea
MARK LAWRENSON, LIVERPOOL, 356 APPEARANCES
The more I think about it, the less I can fathom it. Yes, I know this is all about money — isn’t everything these days? — but it’s the willingness to turn your back on history and shut down the stories that have made our club what it is that is hardest to comprehend.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I got my hands on the European Cup in 1984. I’ll never be able to put into words the exhilarating feeling of winning it. What made it so special was how we used to have to go into the unknown and overcome the challenges that were placed in front of us.
Beating Panathinaikos in a European Cup semi-final, being told by Bob Paisley not to drink the local water in Tbilisi, silencing a baying crowd in Bucharest — that is the story of Liverpool and helped the club get its reputation. European tradition did not come by playing the same teams each year.
As a football supporter you love your club unconditionally, but these guys, Fenway Sports Group, just do not get it. They might own Liverpool but this shows me that they will never understand what they have got.
It’s the sheer arrogance of it all that bothers me. I’m surprised and disappointed that our club has gone down this road. In the middle of a global pandemic, the timing is awful. And for what? More cash and a bigger slice of the pie.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown is one of the six club icons to speak to Sportsmail
PAT NEVIN, CHELSEA, 242 APPEARANCES
I’m not convinced all of the clubs were desperately keen to be involved in such an extreme way. It seems like a game of poker and they’ve thrown in the biggest chip and gone almost all-in.
They must have known they would get some stick but they might be shocked because I don’t think anyone’s behind them. They’ve got the hackles up of absolutely everyone. I’ve yet to talk to anyone who thinks it’s a decent idea.
I’m old-fashioned enough to have not enjoyed the Premier League doing what it did. It was the same thing in a smaller way, cutting off those beneath and making sure vast sums of money went to an elite group.
I don’t particularly like it. That’s not my politics but that’s how the business world works. These clubs are coming from different points. Some will be trying to maximise the opportunity and others need to get out of schtuck, but they’re all businesses so there’s a fear of being left out.
I’d be amazed if Chelsea were one of the driving forces. But you miss the train and you’re left behind on the platform, and if you’re not in the original group you’re already at a massive disadvantage.
A supporter at the 1-1 draw between Leeds and Liverpool on Monday night voiced his criticism
MICAH RICHARDS, MANCHESTER CITY, 246 APPEARANCES
We have seen everybody throwing stones at Manchester City over the years, since the new owners came in and transformed the club. Throughout that, the current owners have handled themselves impeccably. They have tried to keep that feel of a family club.
So when this news came out, it felt like a bit of a slap in the face for City supporters, as it did for fans of all the clubs involved.
This is a complicated situation for clubs, but I do not want this European Super League to go ahead and would be disappointed if it does and City are part it.
Perhaps the City hierarchy felt caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s fair to suspect that Sheikh Mansour would not have been amongst the instigators of the European Super League.
There are a few established European giants who will have been driving it. For the rest — and that includes City — you suspect they have that fear of missing out.
The beauty of the Champions League has been its unpredictability. Playing the same teams every single year doesn’t appeal to me. What good is that to anybody? Many will look at it as greed, and I would be in agreement.
I’m not sure it will happen, it feels there are many barriers. Regardless, whichever way this now goes, the ramifications will be significant.