After Johnson met with soccer (known as football outside North America) governing bodies on Tuesday, No. 10 Downing Street issued a strongly worded statement on his behalf.
“The prime minister confirmed the government will not stand by while a small handful of owners create a closed shop,” the statement said. “He reiterated his unwavering support for the football authorities and confirmed they have the government’s full backing to take whatever action necessary to put a stop to these plans.
“He was clear that no action is off the table and the government is exploring every possibility, including legislative options, to ensure these proposals are stopped.”
Johnson had met with representatives of the English Football Association, the English Premier League and fan groups.
The breakaway European Super League was announced recently, leaving fans and soccer authorities alike angry. The proposed league includes six clubs from England (Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham); three from Spain (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid); and three from Italy (Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan) — all of which would no longer participate in current continental tournaments, such as the Champions and Europa Leagues. Instead they propose organizing their own mid-week competition, the European Super League.
Meanwhile, Oliver Dowden, the U.K.’s secretary of state for culture, media and sport has also been scathing about the breakaway league. He announced a fan-led review of football, chaired by former sports minister Tracey Crouch. In a series of tweets on Tuesday Dowden wrote:
“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 wield an incredible amount of power and influence.”
“These owners should remember that they are only temporary custodians of their clubs; they forget fans at their peril. They have decided to put money before fans – so I have been left with no choice but to formally trigger the launch of our fan-led review of football.”
“The review will be chaired by @tracey_crouch, and will be a root-and-branch examination of football in this country. It will cover the financial sustainability of the mens’ and womens’ game; governance and regulation; and the merits of an independent regulator.”
“We are the people’s Government. We are unequivocally on the side of fans – and their voices have to be heard when it comes to the future of our national game.”
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 wield an incredible amount of power and influence. (1/4)
— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) April 20, 2021