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‘Big six’ face hefty punishment if they attempt Super League project again

2020/2021 Premier League Season Package
(Image credit: Ian West)

The Premier League’s ‘big six’ will face £25million fines and a 30-point deduction if they ever attempt anything like the failed Super League project again.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham announced themselves as founder members of the competition on April 18, but had withdrawn within 72 hours amid fan protests and opposition from the Premier League, UEFA, FIFA and even the British Government.

The clubs indicated their intention to remain in the Premier League, but their involvement in the Super League would have had a hugely negative commercial impact on the English top flight.

A joint statement from the Premier League and the Football Association on Wednesday said the six clubs had apologised to their own fans and to the other top-flight teams, and agreed to support changes to the rules aimed at preventing any fresh attempt to form such a competition.

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Any club attempting such a move in future would be docked 30 points, while if one of the ‘big six’ tried it, they would face an additional £25million fine. The clubs will also make a combined goodwill payment of £22million to support grassroots football and community programmes as part of the new settlement.

The rule changes are expected to be formally written into the league’s statutes at its annual general meeting on Thursday. There is also likely to be further discussion of a new Premier League Owners’ Charter, designed to codify the responsibilities of owners as custodians of their clubs.

Those owners have taken responsibility for their clubs’ involvement in the Super League, and it is understood the American owners of Manchester United and Liverpool will cover their clubs’ share of the goodwill payment, as they did when agreeing a similar settlement with UEFA last month.

The six clubs’ representatives had already been asked to stand down from their positions on various Premier League working groups, and it is understood they remain off those committees at the moment.

The Glazer family, who own Manchester United, have agreed to cover the cost of goodwill payments on behalf of the club

The Glazer family, who own Manchester United, have agreed to cover the cost of goodwill payments on behalf of the club (Martin Rickett/PA)

The FA confirmed Wednesday’s developments marked the end of its inquiry as well, though it is still working with Government on strengthening sports organisations’ powers in relation to the UK’s competition laws, after senior sources at the FA admitted it was “50-50” whether any legal attempt to block the breakaway would have succeeded as things stand.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, a staunch opponent of the Super League, described Wednesday’s developments as “an absolute embarrassment” on Twitter.

Malcolm Clarke, the chair of the Football Supporters’ Association, said: “Whatever punishment the Premier League’s in-house process decides upon, it cannot guarantee that clubs won’t try similar again in the decades ahead.

“The European Super League’s legacy should be a total restructure of the game – an independent regulator, genuine power to fans, and wealth redistribution.”

Julian Knight, the Conservative MP who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said: “This shows what a calamitous PR exercise (the Super League) was. The supposed masters of the football universe have been shown to be nothing more than rank amateurs.

“Out of this omnishambles I would like to think that we will see a fairer game with more money flowing down the football pyramid, but I won’t be holding my breath.”

The Premier League peace deal follows a similar one struck between nine of the original 12 Super League clubs and European football’s governing body UEFA.

It announced a ‘Club Commitment Declaration’ on May 7, effectively tying the clubs to existing domestic and international competitions on pain of tough financial sanctions if a future breakaway was ever attempted.

A banner in the stand

Fans were unhappy with the failed Super League plans (Adam Davy/PA)

The three clubs who have still not renounced the Super League – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – look likely to avoid any ban from the Champions League for next season at least after disciplinary proceedings opened against them by UEFA were stayed by its appeals body.

The clubs have mounted legal moves in their defence, claiming UEFA was in violation of European Union competition law in attempting to block the league and in threatening to sanction them.

UEFA said in a statement: “UEFA understands why the disciplinary proceedings needed to be suspended for the time being, but remains confident in and will continue to defend its position in all the relevant jurisdictions.”