Everton have strongly criticised the “preposterous arrogance” of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ and accused them of “betraying” football supporters around the country with their European Super League plan.
The Merseyside club, whose neighbours Liverpool have joined Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham as well as AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid in signing up for a breakaway competition, have urged the rebels to withdraw their proposals.
In a statement from their board of directors, the Toffees said: “The self-proclaimed Super Six appear intent on disenfranchising supporters across the game – including their own – by putting the very structure that underpins the game we love under threat.
“The backlash is understandable and deserved – and has to be listened to.
“This preposterous arrogance is not wanted anywhere in football outside of the clubs that have drafted this plan.
“On behalf of everyone associated with Everton, we respectfully ask that the proposals are immediately withdrawn and that the private meetings and subversive practises that have brought our beautiful game to possibly its lowest ever position in terms of trust end now.”
In the statement, Everton make little secret of their contempt for those behind the move.
It added: “Everton is saddened and disappointed to see proposals of a breakaway league pushed forward by six clubs.
“Six clubs acting entirely in their own interests. Six clubs tarnishing the reputation of our league and the game. Six clubs choosing to disrespect every other club with whom they sit around the Premier League table. Six clubs taking for granted and even betraying the majority of football supporters across our country and beyond.”
News of the proposal, which emerged on Sunday, has prompted a backlash from governing bodies, managers, players, fans and politicians, with many accusing the backers of wanting to create a closed shop by establishing a competition from which they could never be relegated.
However, former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has predicted that the Super League will never get off the ground in its current format and urged its architects not to kill the “dream” of football.
The Swede told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I can see that something will happen and something will be changed.
“But that six, 12 teams in Europe, or 20 teams you’re taking about, would create their own league? I can’t see that, I can absolutely not see it and I strongly say, ‘No, don’t do it’ because that will take away the dream of football.”
The Premier League’s record goalscorer Alan Shearer expressed his “shock and disbelief and disgust” at the move, and suggested the tide of fury which has greeted it might prompt some of those involved to think again.
Shearer told BBC Breakfast: “I would think that there are directors and people who help run their football clubs, they probably didn’t even have a clue that this was coming out. This has probably just just come out from greed owners who want their cake and to eat it.
“But when you look at the reaction over the last 36 hours, common sense would tell you that these clubs will have to go away and think, ‘Have we really done the right thing here?’.”
Shearer, who won 63 caps and scored 30 goals for England, also expressed sympathy for players who could find themselves banned from playing for their national teams.
He said: “For people to be talking about them being barred from doing that (representing country in big competitions) when it’s got nothing to do with the players whatsoever, it’s just not right.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and midfielder James Milner were quizzed on the issue as part of media duties around their 1-1 draw at Leeds on Monday evening.
Milner is the first player who would be in line to play in the competition to speak out against it.
He told Sky Sports: “There are a lot of questions. I can only say my personal opinion: I don’t like it and hopefully it doesn’t happen.
“I can only imagine what has been said about it and I probably agree with most of it.”
Klopp had earlier said his own negative opinion of a European Super League – he said in a 2019 interview that he hoped it “will never happen” – had not changed.
“It didn’t change. My opinion didn’t change,” he said on Sky Sports.
Brighton joined divisional rivals Everton in opposing the proposals, saying a Super League would “destroy the dreams of clubs at every level” of the game.
Albion expressed their concerns in a lengthy statement issued on behalf of chairman Tony Bloom, chief executive Paul Barber, technical director Dan Ashworth and head coach Graham Potter.
“Brighton and Hove Albion are totally opposed to plans for a breakaway European Super League as it would destroy the dreams of clubs at every level of the domestic game,” read the statement.
“These plans are the latest in an alarming and growing list of clandestine attempts from a small group of clubs whose actions would be wiping out close to 150 years of football’s tradition, competition, and sporting progress through merit.
“The efforts to create a closed-shop for all but the largest clubs demonstrate a clear lack of respect for the contributions of all clubs within the domestic leagues in this country and across Europe.
“Plans for a European Super League also totally disregard fans, the lifeblood of our sport at professional levels, and fly in the face of the views and wishes of the overwhelming majority of football supporters of all clubs.”
Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United striker Michael Owen urged the people behind the plan to “let the people have their game back”.
Writing on Twitter, Owen said: “It’s an ill-thought through idea that can not and will not work.
“Protecting the football pyramid is paramount and any proposal as radical as this requires all clubs and their fans to support it. This support should have been sought at the outset.
“It wasn’t and as such it’s doomed to fail. Bin it now and let the people have their game back.”