Boris Johnson ‘said Super League was great idea’ as UK PM faces renewed scrutiny over doomed project

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the European Super League project his backing before reversing course when the ill-fated scheme collapsed amid a furious backlash from fans, a report has claimed.

The Super League unraveled within days of being announced in April after England’s ‘Big Six’ were shamed into abandoning the project following protests from fans and widespread media criticism.

Pressure was also applied at higher levels as UK PM Johnson condemned the plan – which had formally been announced by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez – as “very damaging” to football.

Johnson also suggested that his government would look at legal means to scupper the project, which would have seen clubs break away from the UEFA Champions League to form a new 20-team elite competition.

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Despite his public protests over the scheme, questions have lingered over how much Johnson and members of his staff privately knew about the Super League plans in the days before they were unveiled.

According to bombshell new claims by The Mirror, citing a government insider, Johnson signaled his approval of the project after it was mentioned to him by chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, following a meeting between the latter and Manchester United executive Ed Woodward at Downing Street.

“Boris doesn’t know much about football so he said it was a great idea,” the newspaper quoted the source as saying.

“So Dan told the clubs No 10 wouldn’t stand in their way. Then it all kicked off...”

Quoting another source close to the rebel clubs, The Mirror added: “Ed [Woodward] came back to the clubs to say they had got the green light from No 10. Dan would not have [gone] all the way without checking Boris’s view.”

Woodward met government official Rosenfield days before the Super League was unveiled. © Reuters

The UK government has vehemently denied any knowledge or discussion of the Super League plans before they emerged on April 18.

Man Utd official Woodward – seen as a key player in the plans, and who would later walk away from his position due to the debacle – is known to have visited Downing Street in the days before the plot was announced.

However, Johnson reportedly did not join in the meeting between Woodward and Rosenfield, and was only “briefly” introduced to him afterwards, with no mention of the Super League at any stage. 

The Mirror cited sources as suggesting that Johnson may simply not have known what he was being asked about when he allegedly responded to the idea of a Super League.

Johnson and his team have denied claims that he knew about the Super League plans at any stage before they were announced. © Reuters

In the end, the rebel league soon collapsed under the weight of pressure from fans, media figures and European football governing body UEFA.

The six English clubs among the 12 original members were soon followed on their way out by Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan.

The only clubs yet to disown the project are Spanish titans Real Madrid and Barcelona, and Italian giants Juventus.

UEFA announced on Tuesday that it was formally initiating disciplinary proceedings against the trio “for a potential violation of UEFA's legal framework.”

The clubs could face hefty fines and a possible ban from UEFA competition for up to two seasons.

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The nine clubs who have renounced the project have already been sanctioned, escaping with a collective fine of €15 million ($18 million) – which will be redistributed to children’s and grassroots projects – and will have 5% of their revenues from UEFA competition withheld for one season, starting in 2023-2024.

The teams have agreed not to undertake similar follies in future and would face fines of €100 million each should they do so.

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