European Super League: Man Utd co-chairman Glazer talks up 'increased financial support for wider football pyramid'

By Sports Desk April 18, 2021

Manchester United co-chairman and vice-chairman of the European Super League (ESL) Joel Glazer said the breakaway competition will provide "increased financial support for the wider football pyramid".

Six English clubs, three Italian sides and three Spanish teams have joined forces to create a tournament to rival the Champions League, which has long been in the offing, despite significant opposition from UEFA and the respective leagues.

The Premier League's "big six" – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – are the teams to have signed up alongside LaLiga champions Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Serie A holders Juventus, Milan and their city rivals Inter.

The Glazer family have long been scrutinised since purchasing United in 2005, and Joel – who also serves as chairman of NFL Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – addressed Sunday's announcement.

"By bringing together the world's greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid," he said in a statement.

UEFA was joined by the top five European leagues and the English Football Association (FA) in opposing the plans, while FIFA also expressed its "disapproval" of the new competition.

Former United captain Gary Neville called for harsh punishment of the Premier League sides involved, including relegation.

Rio Ferdinand, who played alongside Neville at Old Trafford, was also scathing of the Premier League clubs.

Asked if the teams should face immediate sanctions, Ferdinand told BT Sport: "100 per cent. I think this breakaway group of teams, this is a war on football. It's a disgrace. It's embarrassing. And it goes against everything football is about.

"It's a closed shop for these bigwigs and it's completely and utterly only about one thing and that's money. The rich getting richer and the others not even being considered. There's no consideration for the history, for the people in the different parts of the pyramid below the top, top teams that they’re trying to separate from.

"It's a disgrace, I can't believe it.  How have they got the audacity to do it in the climate we're in at the moment with the pandemic around the world? People struggling in the streets, people struggling all around the world, and these lot are sitting there in their own little pub or room somewhere, speaking and talking and colluding about this little idea they've had and then come out and break it like this.

"It's a disgrace and I think the element of being anti-competitive goes against everything football is about. Relegation, promotion, being rewarded for winning, being punished for not winning: these are things that add to the value of our game that we love.

"It shows me that these people have no idea what football is about. It's purely a business transaction, that's it. There's no thought for anyone else in the pyramid, there's no consideration at all. I can't believe it.

"The people that actually support this game and make it what it is – we've been here all this time without fans, with them this game doesn't feel the same. And they're the people that this is going to hurt more than anyone, and the grassroots. The people that make this game special are not being considered, it's the people at the top end of the game who are making decisions without thinking about anything other than their pockets."

On United, Ferdinand added: "I'm embarrassed. There's been so many things thrown at the owners over the past few years, but this situation now – to be a part of that group that want to break away and leave everybody for dead – that's an embarrassment.

"I can't believe it. I'm sorry, I'm a Man United fan, I love the club, but I can't stand by and support something like that at all."

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