Brighton chief calls for Premier League and FA to take action against ‘big six’

PA Sport Staff
·5 min read

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has called on the Premier League and Football Association to “take appropriate action” against the six English clubs who have withdrawn from the European Super League.

The Seagulls drew 0-0 on Tuesday night at Chelsea, who joined Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham in pulling out, and Barber said those responsible for the proposals should be held to account.

Barber told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “It’s been a very difficult 72 hours and the FA and Premier League now need to review what’s happened, who was responsible, the damage it’s done to the game over the last 72 hours and take the appropriate action.

“I think there’s real disappointment and many of the people involved, people we count as colleagues, we have worked with for many years.

“I think this hasn’t just happened over 72 hours, it’s been weeks and months in planning and that feels very disappointing.

“There’s a lot of bridges that now need to be rebuilt and it needs to be the six clubs back to the 14.”

Barber said the Super League had caused “a huge amount of damage” and that the game’s governing bodies must ensure it can never happen in future.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

“The Premier League and the FA now need to make sure that their rules are tightened significantly to make sure this never happens again,” Barber said.

“There’s no doubt there’s a huge amount of damage been done in the last 72 hours and it’s going to take some time to repair. We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again and we learn from it.”

When asked if the six English clubs should now face a points deduction, Barber said: “I’m not the judge or jury on this one. It’s not for me to determine, that’s up to the Premier League.”

Liverpool principal owner John W Henry apologised on Wednesday morning for his part in the project, admitting he had let the fans down.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Former Reds winger John Barnes questioned the logic of supporters calling for Henry to sell the club, and agreed with Barber that the authorities must put more financial measures in place to stop something similar happening again.

He said on BBC Breakfast: “If Liverpool fans are unhappy and they say they want to get rid of John Henry and want him to sell the club, who do they want him to sell the club to? Somebody with more money than him?

“If somebody comes in with the same amount of money, how do you think they got that money? By making decisions based on finance without regard (for the fans).”

Barnes added: “The only way it (football) will work is if we can control football by bringing a salary cap in, controlling it, reviewing it, being better audited, so that it’s a level playing field for every team in the Premier League, so they can all spend the same amount of money.”

The Football Supporters’ Association, which had met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday to discuss how legislation could be used to thwart the breakaway, warned that the battle is far from won.

“Appeasement of football’s richest clubs doesn’t work. The vultures circle, they’re always after more and they only get stronger when you feed their greed,” read an FSA statement.

“The past 72 hours of white-hot action and anger has killed domestic involvement in the Super League but that doesn’t mean fans can take their foot off the accelerator – a return to the status quo is unacceptable and will only allow these unscrupulous owners to regroup.”

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce fears the idea of a Super League has merely been put on hold.

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce expects proposals for a European Super League to emerge again in the future
West Brom manager Sam Allardyce expects proposals for a European Super League to emerge again in the future (Michael Steele/PA)

“In that format it’s dead, but in other formats it’s on hold,” the former England boss said at a press conference.

“Unless we learn the lessons and have better protection we will see it again and again.

“This is nothing new, the bigger boys have been trying to get a bigger share of the pot for many years. This stinks of the American system being put into place. I hope we can protect ourselves greater.”

The League Managers Association welcomed the decision of the English clubs to withdraw and hoped similar proposals would not emerge in the future.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

It also called for the introduction of a club licensing system to put in place checks and balances on governance.

“There is no place in our game for clandestine collusion, driven by opportunism, with such a blatant disregard for the history and integrity of our game,” read an LMA statement.

“We hope we do not see similar behaviour or proposals in the future.”