UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has hammered Manchester United Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward and Juventus president Andrea Agnelli for their role in the launching of a new European Super League.
Six Premier League sides - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Man United and Tottenham - are part of an initial group of 12 clubs seeking to establish a new 20-team continental competition “as soon as practicable”.
If the plans succeed it would devastate existing European club competitions and in particular the Champions League. A joint statement including UEFA and the English, Italian and Spanish leagues published on Sunday said it would consider “all measures, both judicial and sporting” to prevent the competition going ahead.
On Monday, UEFA chief Ceferin reserved strong criticism for Woodward and Agnelli, who both worked closely with Agnelli as a long-time president of the European Club Association.
“He’s probably one of the biggest disappointments, or the biggest disappointment of all,” Ceferin said of Agnelli.
“I don’t want to be too personal. But the fact is that I’ve never seen a person that would lie so many times, so persistently that he did was unbelievable.
“I spoke with him also on Saturday afternoon. He said, ‘These are all only rumours. Don’t worry, nothing is going on’. And then he said, ‘I’ll call you in one hour’. And he turned off the phone.”
Woodward served on UEFA’s Professional Football Strategy Council but has stepped down.
Ceferin said: “I didn’t have much contact with [Woodward] but he called me last Thursday in the evening saying that he’s very satisfied with the reforms, that he fully supports the reforms, and that the only thing he would like to speak about is about financial fair play. And obviously he already signed something else.”
Ceferin was speaking to outline the changes being made to the Champions League, where he added pointedly: “Teams will always qualify and compete in our competitions on merit, not a closed shop run by a greedy, select few.”
Additional reporting by PA.