Sat. Nov 28th, 2020

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Man United great Gary Neville questions European Premier League ‘plans’

4 min read

Gary Neville has questioned the timing of reported plans to form a new European Premier League – calling it “another wound for football”.

Manchester United and Liverpool are reported to be in talks about joining the proposed competition.

Clubs from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are said to be in negotiations about becoming founder members of the league.

Up to five English clubs could be involved, with Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur named as potential candidates.


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A provisional start date of 2022 has apparently been discussed.

The move apparently has the backing of FIFA and could effectively replace the existing Champions League.

Sky News says that financiers are putting together a $6bn (£4.6bn) package to fund the creation of the new league.

It is reported that the league would feature 18 teams, with fixtures being played in midweek during the regular season.

Former United star Neville told Sky Sports: “I don’t think we should be naive enough to think that at some point in the future there isn’t going to be talk of a major European league. I think it has been mooted for some time.

“That is not something that comes as a shock or a surprise.

“Also, the timing of this, coming off the back of Liverpool and Manchester United getting a little bit of a clip round the ear last week from the other Premier League clubs (over Project Big Picture) makes a little bit of sense for them, in the sense that they are threatening the Premier League clubs – if you don’t do what we say then there’s a chance we could make it a little bit more difficult domestically, even though it does say that they will maintain their positions in the league.

“The big issue I have with it is, ultimately, at this moment in time, in the middle of the pandemic, when football is on its knees at so many different levels.

“The Football Association is struggling, non-League is struggling, EFL clubs are struggling, and the idea that a £5bn package is being put together to set up a new league when the lower clubs are scrambling around trying to pay their wages and stay in existence, it just seems to be another wound for football.

“It doesn’t feel like the right time to be talking about this. The leak I suspect doesn’t suit Manchester United or Liverpool at this moment in time either, because at the end of the day they are seen as sort of like the big, bad bullies.”

Neville recently joined a new group – headed up by former FA chief David Bernstein – which is calling for football to be independently regulated.

“I launched a motion last week for an independent regulator in football and every single day that passes, I don’t feel there is any other way we can go with it,” added Neville, who is co-owner of Salford City.

“Football needs to essentially be controlled by an independent who looks after the balance and fair distribution of wealth in the game.

“I’m for progression of football, new competitions, new formats, but essentially we’ve got to look after the fabric of the game and what it means for communities in this country.

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“Every single week, there is a new announcement at the moment which takes it away from that.

“I’m a Manchester United fan and I wanted Manchester United to be pioneers.

“Manchester United went into Europe 70 years ago as the first club in England, and I’m proud of that fact.

“So I’m not against pioneering approaches, I’m not against even some aspects of Project Big Picture last week.

“However, it’s all about timing, it’s all about communication and how you deliver this – not only to your fellow members within the Premier League but your fellow members within the football community in this country, and also to the fans – the most important people.

“All this does is create unease.”

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