Prince William heralds ‘united voice of football fans’ that saw off European Super League threat and calls for lasting change to ‘secure the future health of the game’
- Prince William, who is president of the Football Association, said he was glad that the ‘united voice of football fans’ had been heard
- He made the comment in a tweet on Wednesday following the announcement of the demise of the shortly-lived European Super League
- The Premier League is considering sanctions for the six English sides which announced their intention to join the ESL
Prince William has backed plans to reform football to ‘secure the future health of the game’.
The Duke of Cambridge said he was glad the ‘united voice of football fans’ had blocked a breakaway European Super League – and stressed the importance of using the moment to bring about change.
The prince’s second intervention in three days came as ministers and Premier League bosses looked to tackle the influence of the richest clubs in England.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden hinted that owners would be reined in by the creation of an Ofcom-style regulator, which could be called ‘Ofball’ – or perhaps ‘Ofside’.
A fan-led review of the ESL debacle will examine whether supporters could be given a controlling stake in their clubs, as in Germany.
Meanwhile, the Premier League is considering sanctions for the six English sides which announced their intention to join the ESL: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Prince William has backed plans to reform football to ‘secure the future health of the game’. The Duke of Cambridge said he was glad the ‘united voice of football fans’ had blocked a breakaway European Super League – and stressed the importance of using the moment to bring about change. Pictured: Prince William (centre) with son George and wife Kate at an Aston Villa game in 2019 [File photo]
Along with six teams from the continent, they had planned to create a new competition in which their annual involvement was guaranteed – undermining a key principle of sporting meritocracy.
Their plans sparked global outrage, achieving the unthinkable in uniting rival football fans and politicians alike. Following almost universal condemnation – including from Prince William – the £3.45billion project unravelled within hours.
The so-called ‘Big Six’ English teams withdrew from the ESL on Tuesday night. Three European sides – AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid – duly followed suit.
Clubs are now understood to be considering sacking executives over the furore, which has seen some bosses issue grovelling apologies to their fans.
Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has already resigned.
There was widespread speculation that United and Arsenal’s American owners would now seek to sell their clubs after their plans for a ‘closed shop’ for football’s elite collapsed.
The 12 teams had hoped to each trouser a ‘welcome bonus’ of up to £250million, with US investment bank JP Morgan Chase putting up the cash.
Prince William, the president of the Football Association, had condemned the ESL earlier in the week, insisting that the ‘values of competition and fairness’ should be protected.
He tweeted last night: ‘I’m glad the united voice of football fans has been heard and listened to. It is now really important that we use this moment to secure the future health of the game at all levels. As president of the FA, I’m committed to playing my part in that work.’
Prince William, the president of the Football Association, had condemned the ESL earlier in the week, insisting that the ‘values of competition and fairness’ should be protected. Pictured: William greets Manchester City midfielder Raheem Sterling in 2019 [File photo]
His comments came as football’s billionaire owners faced a fan-led review of the sport. Mr Dowden told LBC of the plans: ‘International investment in football has been a good thing. It has increased the quality of the game and the players and everything else. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have foreign investment, but I do think it is right that we look at how fans can have a stake in the game.’
Football’s governing bodies in England and Europe have not ruled out imposing fines or even points deductions for the clubs involved. They could also face an embargo on buying and selling players.
The head of one Premier League team said there must be consequences for the Big Six.
Paul Barber, chief executive of Brighton and Hove Albion, said: ‘It’s been a very difficult 72 hours and the FA and Premier League now need to review what’s happened, who was responsible, the damage it’s done to the game… and take the appropriate action. There’s a lot of bridges that need to be rebuilt.’
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