English football’s governing body has launched an inquiry into the attempt to create a breakaway Super League, telling the six Premier League clubs that signed up to the project they will have to hand over evidence relating to their participation.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham were among 12 European clubs that had sought to create a new competition to help them recover from the revenue lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and to boost their appeal to broadcasters and supporters around the world.
The plan collapsed following an angry backlash from fans, who lamented that the Super League would have provided permanent positions to the founders, creating a largely closed league that would have gone against the traditions of the sport in Europe, where in theory any team can win the right to compete at the elite level of the game.
On Monday the Football Association, the sport’s governing body, said it had written to the Premier League clubs involved to demand “all relevant information and evidence regarding their participation” as part of an inquiry opened last week.
“Clearly what happened was unacceptable and could have caused great harm to clubs at every level of English football,” said the FA.
And the Premier League, the richest domestic football division in the world, said it was introducing rules, including a new charter, to stop club owners from attempting further breakaway projects. Breaches would be punished with “significant sanctions”.
“The actions of a few clubs cannot be allowed to create such division and disruption,” the league said. “We are determined to establish the truth of what happened and hold those clubs accountable for their decisions and actions.”
The governing body and the Premier League, the highest level of football in England, both said they had been discussing legislation with the UK government to prevent any future attempts to create rival leagues.
Their commitment to taking action comes a day after Manchester United fans broke into the club’s stadium to protest against the Glazers, the American billionaire family that owns the team, forcing the match against arch-rivals Liverpool to be called off and rescheduled for a later date.
Speaking on a campaign visit to the north of England on Monday, the UK prime minister Boris Johnson said he understood “people’s strength of feeling”.
But he added: “I don’t think it’s a good idea to have disruptive behaviour, demonstrations of that kind.”
The league and the FA criticised the actions of the Manchester United protesters, some of who were accused of violent behaviour.
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