EXCLUSIVE: Sweet calls on European Super League teams to be excluded by the FA

Luton chief executive wants to see a punishment handed out to big six clubs

Monday, 19th April 2021, 4:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 5:38 pm
Town CEO Gary Sweet

Town CEO Gary Sweet has called on the clubs who have agreed to take part in the new European Super League to be excluded from the English game by the Football Association.

The supposed ‘big six’ of, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City all confirmed yesterday they would be taking part in the new midweek competition that will see 20 teams play, with the 15 founding members safe from relegation each season, and earning a share of around £3bn for joining.

In a statement, the ESL announced it would run alongside the club’s domestic leagues, but that won't be the case according to UEFA, who stated: "The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level."

It was a stance that Sweet agreed with, as speaking exclusively to the Luton News, he said: “If that’s their position (joining the Super League), my view is that they should be excluded.

“If they don’t want to be inclusive in their plans going forward then they should be excluded.

"They can’t have it both ways and my view is that it is something that the Premier League and the FA should look at.”

There is also talk of players at clubs who have decided to play in the ESL not being allowed to represent their countries, with UEFA confirming that could be the case.

Sweet was of the same opinion too, as he continued: “Absolutely, 100 percent.

“It’s all fraught with a legal quagmire a lot of that, whether you can exclude players from certain things, but it is an invitation to play, so I certainly think it's possible.

“Anything is possible, and I honestly do believe that there will be a very, very strong backlash.

“Now these clubs have crossed the line and I fully expect any backlash to have a permanent, negative impact on their influence.”

Sweet also thought that the new-look competition is being founded due to the financial issues a number of the top clubs are now in since being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

With Luton operating within their means, the CEO believes if it does go ahead, Town could be in an even better position going forward, saying: “We can, as one of the reasons why this is being instigated by some of those clubs is they have now colossal debt.

“The likes of Real Madrid and Tottenham have got colossal debt, they're almost forced to do something to recover the position that they’re in.

“The people at the clubs that this will impact initially are those that are just outside that invitational six, who then also have huge debts too.

“We’re actually in this position where we’re watching this car crash happen right in front of us and we’re navigating our way through it with a car that’s completely intact.

“From a domestic perspective we’re in a very, very strong position to take advantage and it is a competition.

“We’d never be a club that gets ahead by stamping on our competitors in an unfair manner by trying to be elitist, we’ll always be inclusive in what we do and we firmly believe in fair competition.

“Here we are being fair, but we are also very, very competitive and whatever happens going forward, I can only see this potentially propelling Luton further up the pyramid, whatever it is.”

Sweet also believes that those who have launched the competition have taken a rather short-sighted approach over what fans actually want to watch, saying: “I think that the delusion from this six, 12, 15, 20 clubs whatever it be, the delusion that this will have a major impact on the game is so wrong.

“Our 10 thousand capacity which we want very, very soon to be 17 and a half going forward to 23, the popularity of that game, whoever we’re playing whether it’s Accrington Stanley or West Ham United, the popularity of that game is not going to change.

“We’re still going to be competing in whatever level we are, actually allowing our supporters to come together in for the right reasons, for community, for spirit, for camaraderie, even for devilishness, escapism, or combat-ism against their rivals.

“Those rivalries will still remain, that’s the whole point of it.

“This element will be largely untouched and that’s where the roots like in English football, it’s with those tribalisms, those communities that stick together.

“I think it’s now time for the football communities to stick together as it indeed seems it is and wards that off.

“For us, whatever happens, it will never change who we are, as custodians and supporters, and will never change how we run the club for long term stability and for our ambition.”

Some commentators have voiced their doubts that the new league will actually ever get off the ground, but Sweet wasn’t so sure, adding: “I think it’s serious, I really firmly applaud the actions taken by Jurgen Klopp (who stated in 2019 he didn’t want to see a Super League), his stance on it.

“I think the six clubs are certainly serious enough, but let’s watch this space.

“I think it could happen, absolutely could happen, but what I’d like to see now is that it can’t be another attempt that can go unpunished.

“I think they’ve crossed the line now and I don’t think there should be an easy route back for them.

“They’ve broken the normality and what we need to do is to settle on a more harmonious normality that’s going to protect the game going forward.”