Gary Neville has furiously accused the owners of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ of being “imposters” with “no loyalty to this country” and warned that fans will disown their clubs if they help launch a European Super League. Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City,Read More »
The six English sides involved in the European Super League announced on Tuesday night that they were withdrawing from the project.
The owners of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are facing mounting condemnation and pressure for their part in the European Super League, which was spectacularly suspended on Tuesday night following the withdrawal of all six English clubs on a night of extraordinary drama. Supporters remain furious with Gunners owner Stan Kroenke, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, with pressure on the London clubs increasing after Manchester United executive chairman Ed Woodward resigned on Tuesday night and Liverpool owner John W Henry issued a grovelling video apology on Wednesday morning.
Broadcasters are willing to demand legal clauses in the imminent Premier League TV rights sell-off to handcuff the "big six" rebels to England's top tier. The Super League revolutionaries angered all the major potential bidders, undermining confidence already damaged by Project Big Picture last October. One TV executive involved in the bidding process said domestic values would not be damaged any further by the furore of recent days as the trajectory was already "flat to down". However, the senior broadcasting insider said lawyers will seek "cast iron" contractual assurances that no further rebellions are planned. "This cannot happen again," the TV boardroom figure said. The Premier League has yet to make any formal decision on whether it should delay the next cycle tender process with the likes of Sky and BT. But the decision by the six clubs to abandon the breakaway could, in theory, allow chief executive Richard Masters to stick with expected plans to start taking bids within the next month. The normal schedule for rights sales would have seen the auction held between January and March, but, after disruption caused by the pandemic, Masters has been in no rush to announce a new three-year offer. The current packages for live matches are shared between Sky Sports and BT Sport with Amazon. A package worth £5billion over three years is expected to drop at a marginally sharper rate than the Bundesliga, which saw a five per cent fall in its most recent deal. BT chief Simon Green said in February that he saw a "realignment and a correction and perhaps a period of rights deflation and you can already see it". Leading broadcast expert Julian Aquilina, of Enders Analysis, said the breakaway saga of the last week had thrown "even more uncertainty into the broadcasting landscape." "The uncertainty generated by the suggestion of the ESL breakaway has caused broadcasters to be a little more concerned about the prospects of a healthy football ecosystem," he told Telegraph Sport. "So for the upcoming Premier League rights auction, in particular, I think the broadcasters are going to be slightly more cautious than they would have been otherwise had this not happened." That caution, he says, is most likely to manifest in seeking reassurances, rather than in negotiating prices down. "It probably doesn't do too much to further devalue any values so long as they can be sure of what they are getting," he said. "That's all going to be gone to the lawyers, and just tightening up contracts, in terms of tightening up what's happened in this or that hypothetical scenario."