Former Sunderland AFC chairman Sir Bob Murray brands European Super League plan an 'absolute disgrace'
A bid by some of Europe’s richest football clubs to create a breakaway European Super League has been slammed by former Sunderland AFC chairman Sir Bob Murray.
The former Black Cats supremo has launched a scathing attack on the proposal, which involves England’s ‘Big Six’ of Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea as well as leading clubs in Spain and Italy.
The breakaway tournament would see the establishment of a ‘closed league’, without the threat of relegation for the 12 founding members.
The dozen teams – which also include Spanish sides Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, as well as Inter Milan, Juventus and AC Milan from Italy – have come in for scathing criticism across world football.
The plan has been roundly condemned by both the FA and the Premier League, while Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has warned players who take part could be banned from representing their countries in the World Cup and Euros.
And Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told the football authorities that he is prepared to introduce new legislation to prevent the formation of a European Super League.
Now Sir Bob, whose leadership of SAFC saw the club move from its old Roker Park home to the Stadium of Light in 1997, has entered the debate to express his disapproval over the issue.
He said: “The European Super League is about self-interest and greed.
“It’s owners who have no regard for the heartbeat of football - the fans - or any understanding of our history and legacy.
“Making this announcement in the middle of a pandemic is disgraceful and shows contempt for supporters who are the custodians of the game and have been locked out of stadiums for over a year due to Covid
"It feels very cynical that it was released now so that supporters can’t protest or make their voices heard in or outside stadiums without breaking restrictions and that is shameful.
"It is just an appalling attempt to fast-track an opportunistic way for 100% the wrong reason. This has no credability and is an absolute disgrace”
At a meeting with the FA and the Premier League, the Prime Minister voiced his “unwavering support” for their efforts to block the so-called Big Six going ahead with the new breakaway competition.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson expressed “solidarity” with the fans’ groups, who were also represented at the meeting, saying they should be at the heart of any decisions about the future of the national game.
“He reiterated his unwavering support for the football authorities and confirmed they have the Government’s full backing to take whatever action necessary to put a stop to these plans,” a No 10 statement said.
“The Prime Minister confirmed the Government will not stand by while a small handful of owners create a closed shop.
“He was clear that no action is off the table and the Government is exploring every possibility, including legislative options, to ensure these proposals are stopped.”
The warning came as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it would be “carefully considering” the proposals.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman later told reporters that among the measures under consideration was preventing players of the clubs involved getting work visas and the withdrawal of police funding for match days.