Premier League: How did the season unfold?
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Boris Johnson initially gave the go-ahead to the Premier League’s ‘big six’ clubs before they announced plans for a European Super League, according to reports.
It was widely reported that No. 10 officials met then-Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward four days before the announcement was made late on April 18.
No. 10 has denied that the ESL was discussed, instead claiming coronavirus protocols were on the agenda.
English top-flight clubs Man Utd, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham each announced that they were joining forces to clubs across Europe to create an exclusive and lucrative 12-team league.
La Liga giants Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, and Serie A’s Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan were also involved.
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The plans caused vast anger among football supporters. Large demonstrations were held outside the stadia of the big six, while current and former players were strongly critical.
Prime Minister Johnson called for a “legislative bomb” to prevent the tournament from going ahead. He also told a press conference that the plans were a “cartel that stops clubs competing.”
Each of the six English clubs withdrew from the proposals just 48 hours later.
Man Utd’s Woodward has since announced that he will be leaving the Old Trafford club this year.
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But the Mirror claims that the PM was initially happy for the proposals to go ahead before No. 10 chief of staff Dan Rosenfield met Woodward at Downing Street on April 14.
A No. 10 source reportedly told the Mirror: “Boris doesn’t know much about football so he said it was a great idea.
“So Dan told the clubs No. 10 wouldn’t stand in their way.
“Then it all kicked off…”
The claim is a stark contrast to how Johnson handled the news publicly.
On April 20, he told a press conference: “The first step is clearly to back the football authorities in this country – the FA, the Football Association, the Premier League – in the steps that they are taking to counteract this initiative.
“But be in no doubt that we don’t support it.
“I think it is not in the interests of fans, it is not in the interest of football.
“How can it be right to a situation in which you create a kind of cartel that stops clubs competing against each other?
“Playing against each other properly with all hope and excitement that gives to fans up and down the country.
“I think it offends against the basic principles of competition.
“If necessary, in order to protect that principle of competition, we will seek a legislative solution.
“But we hope that the [football authorities] can find a way forward themselves.”
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