The Duke of Cambridge has publicly stated his concerns over the plans by some of England’s most famous football clubs to join a European Super League as a row which has divided football across the continent continues to grow.
Prince William, who is President of the Football Association, has intervened in the growing crisis as six top flight clubs were confirmed as founding members of the ESL.Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have all agreed to join Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus in the contest which organisers want to start as soon as possible.
William sent out a personal tweet, signed W, which said ”Now, more than ever, we must protect the entire football community – from the top level to the grassroots – and the values of competition and fairness at its core. I share the concerns of fans about the proposed Super League and the damage it risks causing to the game we love. W.”
The ESL would rival the current biggest pan European tournament, the Champions’ League, which sees teams qualify via their own domestic leagues. The ESL would comprise fifteen founder members who could never be relegated from the competition. Just five teams would qualify annually. Critics say it makes top flight football a closed shop. The ESL would play mid week games during the European football season with ticket prices and TV rights expected to bring in huge revenue for those involved.
Fifa, world football’s governing body, and UEFA, which oversees the sport on a European level are strongly opposed. There has been discussion about banning players who take part in the ESL from major competitions such as the World Cup and the Euros. The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has already criticised the plans while Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has said the government will do all it can to stop the move happening.
The intervention from the Duke of Cambridge came in a rare personal message on the official Kensington Palace account which was applauded by former England captain, Rio Ferdinand, almost immediately. Prince William has been vocal in his support for grassroots football which, like every other part of the game, faces financial challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic.