Gary Neville has once again slammed the idea of a European Super League after the announcement late on Sunday evening.
The news on Monday has been dominated by different figures from around football giving their viewpoints, with the majority condemning the idea.
Neville was no different on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football and here’s a full transcript of what he had to say.
Neville on when he heard the announcement:
“I said yesterday that I thought it was a criminal act. I was half hoping, I went to bed about 10:15 last night, so I didn’t see the statement when it came. I was half hoping that they were going to, off the backlash, the media reaction, the immediate fan reaction was awful towards it, I was hoping they would rethink it.
“When I woke up, I saw the statement and it had Joel Glazer’s name on it, I thought: ‘This is a problem, big problem’. He doesn’t put his name on anything, that man. He’s intelligent, he knows what he wants and he’s parked his weasels and he’s come out. This is serious, he’s not backing down, he’s going to try and push this through. Once he puts his name on it, he’s going to try and force this through. They’ve been through hell at Manchester United in the early years.
“They don’t care, and when I saw his name on it, I was really worried. I’m enthused by the reaction of the Government, by royalty, by the whole of football, by the fans, but if they get this through, if they push this through and these owners have pushed difficult things through for their clubs in the past. Levy is steel-like, the Glazers are steel-like, Abramovich is hard as nails, he won’t care about criticism.
“It will change football in this country forever, forever, and we have to now mobilise, organise, it’s difficult not to get emotional and feel sick. But you have to write to your MPs, you’ve got to write to your local football clubs, everybody’s got to come behind this.
“Pundits for BBC, ITV, BT Sport, forget allegiances, forget who you support, we’ve got to come together to stop this proposal. This is an attack on everything that’s been important in this country, football has helped in the last 10 months in the midst of pandemic, more than ever, to keep people going, and they’re trying to take it away from us. I feel slightly complicit, I stayed pretty quiet in terms of the Glazer family over the years, I stayed quiet because when the club were taken over as a PLC, that you know it could be bought and it was out of the control of everybody, a completely different market, generally in life and I always thought: ‘What’s the answer to the Glazers? Who takes them out, Russia, China, state money, for the two or three billion quid it would need?’. I’ve stayed quiet on the basis that it’s still Man United, I can still watch the lads play, I can be happy and I can be sad, I’m still watching football in this country. If they take dividends out, alright, it’s dividends, I can live with it slightly.
“What I can’t live with is 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 booting out of this country. We have got to come together now, it might be too late. There will be people at Man United, fans that were arguing 15 years ago that will say it’s too late, but it’s never too late. We have got to stop this. It is absolutely critical we do.
“They’ve created a monopoly, a closed shop, a tournament where you’re guaranteed to be in it. West Ham and Leicester are in a Champions League place, forget it, they don’t get into the Champions League anymore, it doesn’t matter where they finish in the league. What’s the point? They’ll take away everything from this country: the pyramid, the sincerity of competition, the honesty and integrity of competition that we value and they’re taking it away. Yeah, we know that Manchester United have more money, we know that Liverpool have more money, we know that Arsenal have more money, we can live with that.
“There will always be top clubs that have more money, but they can be beaten by Sheffield United at home, they can draw with Fulham – and they’re trying to take that away to create franchise football. Never, it can never happen, I don’t think these six owners, I hope they’re panting hard tonight, feeling uncomfortable and their stomachs are churning and the executives and players who play for these clubs – I can’t sit here and say to the players of Liverpool and United to go on strike because that wouldn’t be right, but lads, if you’ve got it in you, you can stop this, you can mobilise it. Jurgen Klopp can stop it, he’s a man of integrity, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can stop it, he’s a man of integrity, they can all contribute to stopping it and we must all come together to stop it now because this is an attack by six national families on the integrity of our national sport and it must be stopped.”
Neville then apologised to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who called out his comments on Sunday regarding the ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone anthem:
“When I mentioned You’ll Never Walk Alone, it wasn’t any disrespect to Liverpool. Maybe in the past I’ve done that, but not last night. My intentions last night were around the fact that the two most successful football clubs in this country should have high standards of integrity. For all the rivalry, there is a respect, a respect that you do the right things, a respect that you defend your club, of course, but I recognise that they’re both great football clubs that have both done great things.
“The shock that these two are at the front of this, forget the six, Chelsea and City, Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour, we don’t even know who they are. Arsenal and Tottenham, I’d rather watch the champions of San Marino than those two at the moment, to be honest with you, how those two have wrangled their way in, they’re a joke to watch. And then we’ve got these two, they should be bringing people together, they should be demonstrating compassion, we’re in the midst of a pandemic, they should have the highest standards of all-time and these two sets of owners have taken these football clubs, not only profited from them, they have now taken it to a different level.
“Manchester United fans have argued that they’ve harmed our own club because they haven’t been able to put all that dividends and all those debt repayments into players but they’re no trying to harm every single football fan in this country because there is less money for grassroot pitches, there is less money for coaches. If these six leave, there is less money for everyone who plays in this country and the Government must step in now on these clubs. Liverpool and Man United, there was no point scoring for me last night mentioning Liverpool and if I came across that way to Jurgen Klopp, I apologise, because I think I’m on his side for this particular one.
“He’s done the most incredible job. If I take allegiances away, I’ve absolutely loved watching his football team over the last four years, more than the City one because they’re electric, they’re everything I want in a football team, he’s everything I want in a manager. He’s decent, his players are decent, I know some of them and the fans behind the goal are connected to the players and the manager. What’s happening is they’ve been basically divided.”
Neville on what the owners want:
“I think there’s a lack of willingness. They want to change the system, they want to chase the very fabric of the pyramid – relegation and promotion – so they have certainty and rely on their income year-in, year-out.
“Manchester United, they lose loads of money from their sponsors when they don’t qualify for the Champions League and they’ve been really good at not qualifying for the Champions League over the last 10 years, but they were banking on it all the time under Sir Alex Ferguson.
“There weren’t massive amounts of money being invested and still getting into the Champions League every season and they just thought it was their right, they’re entitled, they think they’re entitled to be in there – but they’re not and they’ve had the shock of their lives. Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United, Chelsea have fallen out of it, Liverpool, to be fair, (haven’t) under Jurgen Klopp.
“They want to change the system for their own benefit, more people watch those clubs, they want to own subscription, they want subscription models, they want to put it on their phone. You think about it: 150 million Man United fans worldwide paying £1 for every match every weekend, they get 150 million quid per week. They want to own their own commercial income, their own image rights, their own TV rights, they want to break away from what would be the system happening in this country.”
Neville on Liverpool and Manchester United:
“Look, I think there’s no doubt over the last few years that Klopp’s team have become a very popular team. They’re unpopular tonight, everyone in this country wants Leeds United to win this game and I don’t like either, so I’m not talking about a club that I like – they were the two biggest rivals for Man United in my time. But everybody in this country wants Leeds United to win this game tonight and Jurgen Klopp, over the last few years, has worked so hard to build a spirit to become a team that could become revered around Europe and this country. Tonight, they’re up against it because of the actions of their owners. It will be a massive distraction to the players, they’ll know, they’ll feel it, and the Leeds players, it maybe an inspiration.”
“You think about the Man United vs Liverpool game in a few weeks and if it wasn’t for Covid, you’d mobilise a march, you’d bring all the fans together and you’d march on that stadium, you do things here, you would, you have to act here.
“The idea that something happens would be to cancel the game on Sunday – City vs Spurs – who cares about it? They don’t care about it. They don’t care about English football, why should they play in the EFL Trophy? Things like that for me in this moment in time have to be on the table because they have to know that they can’t bully their way through everyone in this country and they are bullying the 14 clubs, the EFL, the FA and it is the six owners, like Jamie said before.”