EXCLUSIVE: Hatters CEO labels new European Super League a 'despicable violation'

New competition is threatening to tear the English game apart internally according to Sweet

Monday, 19th April 2021, 3:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 5:42 pm
Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet

Luton chief executive Gary Sweet has labelled the new European Super League that was announced yesterday as a ‘despicable violation’ to the game of football.

News broke on Sunday that six of the Premier League’s top clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City, had agreed to be part of a breakaway midweek competition that also included AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.

Unlike the Champions League, which teams have to qualify for, the ESL would include the same 15 teams every season, with another five qualifying annually.

It would be split into two groups of 10, playing each other home and away, with the top three qualifying for the quarter-finals, the fourth and fifth-placed sides playing a two-legged play-off for the two remaining spots.

From there, it would go into a two-leg knockout format, with a final in May at a neutral venue.

The founding clubs would each receive a sizable share of the £3bn pot, but that didn't cut it with Sweet, who speaking exclusively to the Luton News, said: “It's a despicable violation of everyone involved in the game and supporters of our national sport.

“It’s been brewing for a little while.

"We knew about the Project Big Picture proposals so I think it was always going to be something coming from that, mainly upping the ante.

"But I think it’s a chronic misjudgment, some real error of judgement in just pitching it right now, a time where we’re all looking forward to getting fans back after a vicious pandemic, while the other countries involved in it are still going through that, worse than we are in England.

"So the timing is really distasteful.

"Doing so just before UEFA were about to relaunch plans for the Champions League is really disrespectful, and while our own government has effectively twisted the arm and forced the arm of the Premier League to look at redistributing funds about how we can create more of an equitable league.

"This goes in the opposite direction and so all of that doesn’t bode well.

“They just don't get it.

"Football in England is tribal, communal and territorial.

"We won't allow the fabric of our national sport to be torn apart by the commercial Americanisation by a handful of individuals for personal greed.

"The game has only thrived over 150 years because of supporters - not spectators, viewers or consumers - proper fans!

"Football must remain inclusive, not exclusive."

Since the news became public, it has been met with some widespread criticism from clubs, pundits, politicians, players and most importantly, supporters.

The unity shown in the face of such an announcement is the one positive to have come out of it according to Sweet, who added: "It certainly doesn’t sit well with us or anyone I’ve spoken to in the game.

"I’ve spoken to many clubs, and the one benefit to come is what those six clubs are doing is something that nobody else is able to achieve which is bringing the sport together.

"What we’re all doing is trying to keep the game intact after a year of not having supporters in the game, and what we’re getting right now is something that’s threatening to tear us apart internally.

“But it’s actually bringing the game together in some respects and that’s not abut 92 clubs coming together, all of a sudden it’s about 86."