Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal should be relegated from the Premier League if they announce their intention to join a European Super League, Gary Neville has claimed.
UEFA was joined by the top five European Leagues and the English Football Association in opposing the plans, which are reportedly set to be announced on Sunday.
The Premier League’s “big six” teams, plus Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Milan and Juventus are the 12 sides said to be involved. Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are not included.
During United’s win over Burnley on Sunday, Neville suggested points deductions would be a reasonable punishment and, after the match, the Sky Sports pundit expanded on his fury at the proposals, labelling it a “criminal act against football fans.”
“The reaction to it is that it’s been damned and rightly so. I’m a Manchester United fan and have been for 40 years but I’m disgusted, absolutely disgusted,” said the former Red Devils full-back.
“It’s an absolute disgrace and we have to wrestle back the power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league and that includes my club.
“I’ve been calling for 12 months to have an independent regulator to bring checks and balances in place to stop this happening, it’s pure greed. They’re imposters, the owners of Liverpool, United, City – they’re nothing to do with football in this country, a hundred and odd years of history of fans who love their clubs and they need protecting.
“United aren’t even in the Champions League, Arsenal aren’t, they’re a shambles of a club at the moment, Tottenham aren’t, and they want a God-given right to be in there? Stop these clubs having a power base, enough is enough.
“The motivation is greed. My reaction earlier wasn’t an emotional one, deduct them all points tomorrow, put them at the bottom of the league and take the money off them.
“You’ve got to stamp on this, it’s criminal, it’s a criminal act against football fans, make no mistake about it. Deduct points, their money and punish them.
“If they announce a letter of intent has been signed then they should be punished, heavily, massive fines, points deductions, take the titles off them, who cares.
“Give the title to Burnley, let Fulham stay up, relegate United, Liverpool and Arsenal, those three clubs have the history and should be the ones that should suffer most.”
— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) April 18, 2021
Neville also hit out at the owners of the clubs involved, adding: “They’re bottle merchants, you never hear from the owners of these clubs, absolute bottle merchants, they’ve got no voice, and they’ll probably hide in a few weeks and say it was nothing to do with them, they were only talking about it.
“Seriously in the midst of a pandemic, a crisis, football clubs at national level going bust nearly, furloughing players, clubs on the edge and these lot are having Zoom calls about breaking away and creating more greed. Joke.”
According to reports, a statement is expected at 21:30 GMT. It has been reported that Madrid president Florentino Perez will act as the competition’s chairman, with Liverpool, United and Arsenal owners John W Henry, Joel Glazer and Stan Kroenke also having major roles.
“They’ll be amending that statement as we speak, they’ll have seen the reaction,” Neville said. “They’ll be backtracking down the road because they are bottle merchants these lot.
“I’d like to think that United and Liverpool would stand and think something’s not right here, let’s collaborate with the game to try and get a better competition, a better Champions League, I’m not for everything standing still but this is a grab, when the timing is hideous. What world are these people living in?”
Put on the spot at full-time, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was unable to offer any insight, telling Sky Sports: “I saw the news and the speculation. I can’t really say too much, my focus has just been on this game, I got the news today as well.
“I haven’t looked into [what it would mean for United] so I just need to sit down and see what it is. The club will probably comment on it later.”