May 14, 2021

Man Utd

News

European Super League: Is this the EXACT night the idea was born?

7 min read

They are the people that the world of football is waiting impatiently to hear from. 

They are the men who have sat in silence while the game reacts in horror at their plans to upend the competitive spirit of the sport as we have always known it. 

It seems remarkable that for all the sneaky, covert talks that have taken place to lead football onto the brink of a precipice, Liverpool owner John Henry and Arsenal chief Ivan Gazidis met with Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and club-owning Glazer brothers Avram and Joel in one of New York’s most popular restaurants in broad daylight in October 2017.

(L-R) Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Man United co-owners Avi Glazer and Joel Glazer and Liverpool principal owner John W Henry met up for dinner in New York in October 2017. Was this the day the Super League took a giant step towards being created?

(L-R) Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Man United co-owners Avi Glazer and Joel Glazer and Liverpool principal owner John W Henry met up for dinner in New York in October 2017. Was this the day the Super League took a giant step towards being created?

The plush Italian restaurant Locanda Verde is located in the trendy Tribeca district of the city and hosted the big names from three of English football's most successful and powerful clubs back in October 2017

The plush Italian restaurant Locanda Verde is located in the trendy Tribeca district of the city and hosted the big names from three of English football’s most successful and powerful clubs back in October 2017

It was thought that the trio would have discussed how television revenue was distributed among Premier League clubs when they met in New York but now it looks possible they could have spoken about a far more explosive plan

It was thought that the trio would have discussed how television revenue was distributed among Premier League clubs when they met in New York but now it looks possible they could have spoken about a far more explosive plan

At the time, Sportsmail reported how television rights could well have been on the agenda of their meeting. Those three sides had been agitating for a greater slice of the pie.

Instead of splitting the income equally between 20 teams, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United wanted a model similar to Spain, where Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid – coincidentally also founder members of the Super League – get a bigger payout than the rest.

They had dinner together in Italian restaurant Locanda Verde in the trendy Tribeca district and at the time seemed the most unlikely of companions, given the fierce rivalry between their three clubs.

Fast forward nearly four years and the football fans in Britain and beyond have reacted in uniform horror at the Super League proposals – the fear of what will happen to the game transcending any rivalry on the pitch. 

These owners, however, have come together and Joel Glazer was quoted by rival clubs explaining how the Super League was moving forward. Messrs Henry, Glazer and Woodward don’t have too many other friends to turn to but they clearly have each other.

Liverpool owner John Henry, with his wife Linda Pizzuti Henry, pictured celebrating the club's 2019 Champions League win

Liverpool owner John Henry, with his wife Linda Pizzuti Henry, pictured celebrating the club’s 2019 Champions League win

Joel Glazer (left) and Avram Glazer (right) with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Manchester United manager, back in 2019

Joel Glazer (left) and Avram Glazer (right) with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Manchester United manager, back in 2019

Ed Woodward (left), Manchester United's cheif executive, was also there are the meeting in New York back in 2017. Here, he and Avram Glazer are pictured watching United face Barcelona at the Nou Camp in 2019

Ed Woodward (left), Manchester United’s cheif executive, was also there are the meeting in New York back in 2017. Here, he and Avram Glazer are pictured watching United face Barcelona at the Nou Camp in 2019

Gazidis, meanwhile, has since departed Arsenal and is now an executive at AC Milan  in Italy, who are also a Super League founder member. 

At the time in 2017, Arsenal said Gazidis was in New York to see owner Stan Kroenke and it had been a dinner to discuss NFL meetings. 

United said Woodward was catching up with the Glazers around the same NFL talks, while Henry was there for the ‘common interests’ of the Premier League.

It isn’t a stretch to assume they’ve seen a lot more of each other in the time that followed, albeit not in plain sight to the public. 

It was Henry’s Liverpool side who have had to face the music first as they were in Premier League action on Monday night.

Manager Jurgen Klopp underlined his stance against the Super League – a position he has long held – while captain on the night James Milner also offered a withering rebuttal, saying ‘I don’t like, I hope it doesn’t happen’. The silence from Boston, where Henry and his Fenway Sports Group company are based, has been deafening.

Carragher accused Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group of financially exploiting the club's history of success

Manchester United legend Gary Neville raged at the club's owners during his appearance on Monday Night Football

Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher (left) and Gary Neville (right) were livid about the plans to overhaul football and issued a rallying cry to fans across the country in a gripping Monday Night Football for Liverpool’s match against Leeds

After Liverpool drew 1-1 against Leeds, Liverpool's captain for the night James Milner issued a blunt assessment of the Super League proposals, saying that he dislikes the plans and that he hopes they don't happen

After Liverpool drew 1-1 against Leeds, Liverpool’s captain for the night James Milner issued a blunt assessment of the Super League proposals, saying that he dislikes the plans and that he hopes they don’t happen 

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, a pundit on Sky Sports, hit out at Henry and FSG and warned them that if the club’s involvement forces Klopp to leave the club, there would be dire consequences for the American owners.

‘The biggest thing is that everyone’s against it tonight. Jurgen Klopp spoke about this in 2019 and made his stance very clear,’ Carragher said. ‘If Liverpool lose their manager on the back of this in the next 12 months, then the owners will be run out of that club in a week. I can assure you of that.

‘It hurts me more because this ownership bought Liverpool on the back of other American owners who ran the club badly and the fans got them out.

‘These [owners] got the club for a steal. It is now six or seven times bigger, they’ve made their money and they won the lottery with Liverpool.’

Meanwhile at United, one of their star men in Portugal international Bruno Fernandes tentatively broke ranks on Monday night by commenting ‘Dreams can’t be buy’ on an Instagram post by Wolverhampton’s Daniel Podence which was speaking out against the Super League proposals.

Jamie Carragher warned John Henry and FSG that they will be run out of Liverpool if their move to position them into the Super League forces manager Jurgen Klopp to leave the club

Jamie Carragher warned John Henry and FSG that they will be run out of Liverpool if their move to position them into the Super League forces manager Jurgen Klopp to leave the club

Liverpool manager Klopp (second left), pictured with Henry, Pizzuti and Liverpool chairman Tom Werner (left), has made it clear in the past that he is against the proposals of forming a Super League and repeated that stance on Monday night

Liverpool manager Klopp (second left), pictured with Henry, Pizzuti and Liverpool chairman Tom Werner (left), has made it clear in the past that he is against the proposals of forming a Super League and repeated that stance on Monday night

And like Carragher, United legend Gary Neville also blasted the Glazer ownership during his appearance on Monday Night Football.

‘I feel slightly complicit,’ Neville said. ‘I have stayed pretty quiet over the Glazer family over the years, but I cannot live with attacking every single football fan in this country.

‘They have stepped over the mark. They are scavengers and they need booting out of this football club and this country. We have got to come together now, some might say it is too late, but it is never too late. We have got to stop this. It is absolutely critical we do.’

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez will be the new Super League president and the 74-year-old spoke out on Monday night to defend the competition.

‘Many important clubs in Spain, Italy and the UK want to find a solution to a very bad financial situation,’ Perez said to El Chiringuito in Spain.

‘The only way is to play more competitive games. If instead of playing the Champions League, the Super League helps the clubs to recover the lost earnings.

Ivan Gazidis (left) was at the meeting in his role as an Arsenal chief exec but has since moved to Italian side AC Milan, who have also been announced as one of the 12 founder members of the Super League

Ivan Gazidis (left) was at the meeting in his role as an Arsenal chief exec but has since moved to Italian side AC Milan, who have also been announced as one of the 12 founder members of the Super League

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez - also the Super League president - has come out in defence of the new plans

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez – also the Super League president – has come out in defence of the new plans

‘Here at Real Madrid we’ve lost a lot of money, we are all going through a very bad situation. When there is no profit, the only way is to play more competitive games during the week. The Super League will save clubs financially.

‘PSG were not invited, as of today. We haven’t even spoken to German clubs. We are now 12 clubs, we want to become 15 clubs. If PSG and Bayern Munich refuse, the Super League competition will not be cancelled. This is bulls***.

‘Football must evolve like everything in life. Football has to adapt to the times we live in now. Football is losing interest from fans, TV rights are decreasing. We wanted to do the Super League, the pandemic has given us urgency, and right now we are all ruined in football.

‘Even in the Premier League, if the top clubs are economically stronger, all the other clubs will also become stronger. It is a consequence. We want a dialogue with UEFA as we proposed in the Super League, we want to save football.

‘This Super League is not for the rich, but it’s to save football. If this continues, football will disappear and by 2024 we would already be dead. This is the only way to save everyone: big, medium and small clubs.’

UEFA's president Aleksandar Ceferin has hit out at Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli and said that he 'lied so many times'

UEFA’s president Aleksandar Ceferin has hit out at Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli and said that he ‘lied so many times’

Meanwhile UEFA’s president Aleksandar Ceferin has hit out at Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli, who he said backed proposals for a Champions League reform just a day before the Super League proposals came out.

‘I don’t want to speak much about Andrea Agnelli,’ Ceferin said on Monday. ‘He is probably one of the biggest disappointments or the biggest of all. I don’t want to be too personal but the fact is that I have never seen a person that would lie so many times and persistently than he did. It was unbelievable.

‘I spoke with him on Saturday afternoon and he said that these are only rumours, don’t worry, nothing is going on, then he said I will call you in one hour and turned off his phone. The next day, we get the announcement.’

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