Gary Neville called for Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal to be relegated as reports came to light they would launch a rival European Super League.
Speaking on Sky Sports after watching his former side retain second place in the Premier League with a 3-1 win over Burnley, the Salford City co-owner launched a diatribe against the apparent greed at play.
"I’m a Manchester United fan and have been for 40 years of my life but I’m disgusted, absolutely disgusted," said Neville.
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I’m disgusted with Manchester United and Liverpool the most. Liverpool say they’re the people’s club, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, the fan’s club. Manchester United, 100 years, born from workers around here, and they’re breaking into a league without competition, that they can’t be relegated from?
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“It’s an absolute disgrace and we have to wrestle back the power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league. That includes my club," he continued.
“I’ve been talking for 12 months as part of another group for an independent regulator to bring checks and balances into place to stop this happening. It’s pure greed.”
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Neville highlighted the foreign ownership of the clubs at the heart of the talks, and suggested they had no ties to the cities the clubs are sited in.
“They’re imposters, the owners of these clubs, the owners of Liverpool, the owners of Manchester City, the owners of Chelsea, they have nothing to do with football in this country,” he said.
“There are 100-odd years of football in this country with fans that have lived and loved these clubs and they need protecting, the fans need protecting.
“I benefited from football hugely, I’ve made money out of football, I invested money into a football club and now I’m not against money in football, but the principles and ethos of fair competition and the rights to play the game, so Leicester win the league, they go into the Champions League.
Manchester United aren’t even in the Champions League, neither are Arsenal - you watched them earlier today, they're an absolute shambles of a football club at the moment. Tottenham aren’t in the Champions League at the moment, and they want a God-given right to be in there?
Neville suggested that the clubs should be relegated and fined as a punishment for being involved in talks.
“They’re an absolute joke and the time has come now, independent regulator, stop these clubs having the power base - enough is enough,” he warned.
“The motivation is greed. My reaction earlier on wasn’t an emotional reaction.
“Deduct them all points tomorrow, put them at the bottom of the league and take the money off them. Seriously, you have to stamp on this.
It’s criminal. It’s a criminal act against football fans in this country. Make no mistake about it, this is the biggest sport in the world, the biggest sport in this country and it’s a criminal act against the fans, simple as that. Deduct points, deduct the money and punish them.
He continued his outburst and suggested that the opprobrium the news had triggered would force the owners to back track.
“They’re bottle merchants,” he began.
“You never hear from the owners of these clubs. Absolute bottle merchants, they’ve got no voice. They’ll probably hide for a few weeks and then say it was nothing to do with them, they were only talking about it.
“Seriously, in the midst of a pandemic, an economic crisis, football clubs at National League level going bust nearly, furloughing players, and these lots are having Zoom calls about breaking away and basically creating more greed? Joke.
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“They’ll be amending that statement as we speak because they’ll have seen the reaction, not just from people from this channel, not just social media, not just the Government, they’ll be backtracking because they are bottle merchants, this lot, let’s make no mistake about it.
“It was the same with Big Picture, they bottled out of that a week later, so from my point of view, listening to this, we talk about big clubs - Manchester United have acted as a small club for about eight to 10 years, they’ve been a small club in mentality.
“Arsenal have been like a small club, some of the other clubs that are missing out and actually doing really well, they act like bigger clubs.
“Being a big club isn’t just about having a global fanbase, it’s acting properly at the right time.
“I always thought Bayern Munich were a decent club when I played against them, I’d like to think Manchester United and Liverpool would stand there in the face of this and say something isn’t right here.
“Let’s collaborate with the game to try and get a better competition, a better Champions League.
“I’m not against the modernisation of competitions - competitions moved forward over the last 100 or so years. I’m not for everything standing still, but this is a grab, an absolute grab at a time when the timing is hideous.
“What world are these people living in, to think they can bring this forward at this moment of time?
“They’ve got no loyalty to this country and these leagues. Enough is enough. There isn’t a football fan in this country that won’t be seething listening to this conversation and these announcements."
“Seriously, how can you even think about coming to watch a Super League game here when you’ve left 14 clubs in the Premier League behind? The Championship clubs are dead, your EFL, League One and League Two clubs are dead. The National League, the pyramid system that you’ve fought for, for 150 years, is gone because of six clubs.
"Absolutely embarrassing. It’s never going to happen. Let them break away but honestly, punish them straight away. Just punish them.
"If they announce a letter of intent has been signed by six clubs then they should be punished heavily. Massive fines, points deductions, take the titles off them, who cares?
Give the title to Burnley, Fulham. Let Fulham stay up and relegate United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
"Those three clubs, to be fair, are the history of this country. They’re the ones that should suffer most.
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"Yes, Chelsea, City, new money in the game, they’ve come forward and I’m not happy with them either, let’s be clear.
"Tottenham, I’m not that bothered about. But Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, they should know better.
"The history and tradition that runs through those three clubs is enormous, I value it, I value the history and tradition that runs through those three clubs, but they leave a lot to be desired at this moment in time.
Liverpool Football Club, seriously? You go to the streets of Liverpool, I don’t have a great relationship with them at all, I don’t like them and they don’t like me, but the one thing I always thought about them was that they were honest, they had integrity, they’d look after their people, they’d look after their own. That’s gone, forget that. If they sign that letter of intent, they’re as bad as the rest of them.
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