'No legal block' to Government intervention on European Super League – Keir Starmer ramps up political pressure on breakaway competition

Leader of the opposition Keir Starmer has revealed there is no ‘legal impediment’ preventing Government putting the block on six Premier League clubs’ European Super League plans.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 5:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 6:02 pm

Fan groups and media from across the country were invited to a ‘Super League Emergency Meeting’ with Starmer and his shadow Digital Culture Media and Sport team to discuss the ESL plans, which have been met with a wave of condemnation from fans, players, ex-pros, clubs, governing bodies and pundits alike. Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust’s Greg Tomlinson was one of many selected speakers.

Discussing the plans, Starmer believes football in this country is now at ‘breaking point’ with fans’ views overlooked for too long. And he sees the ESL proposals as a symptom of that.

Starmer is calling for action from Boris Johnson and the Conservative party – and made it clear to more than 200 attendees, including the Gazette, via Zoom, that there is nothing preventing the Government stopping this plan at source, for the good of the English game.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer visits a shopping precinct to highlight the party's policies on fighting crime, on April 09, 2021 in Bedford, England.

"Nobody wants the Government to be poking their noses into football every five minutes – this isn’t what this is about,” said Labour leader Starmer.

"We’re at a point, a breaking point, where action is needed. We’ve seen calls for action for years and nothing has happened, but now we are at breaking point. And I think that is why there has been such focus on what parliament can do.

"Now is time for parliament to show its true colours because this breakaway proposal goes against every principle of the game. Open competition, merit, etc, etc and it is against the values of the game.”

The Government has promised a fan-led review into governance in football – but Starmer is calling for more, and much quicker.

“There isn’t an impediment in parliament. Action can be taken, laws can be passed, legislation can be passed. The question is the will. There is no legal stop on this, there is no impediment. And we need to push that to the Government when we hold them to account. Get on with it – that has to ring out loud and clear,” said Starmer.

“It is no good having a day of outrages statements followed by a medium-term review that reports too late to do anything.

“The Government has the right to put legislation before parliament and can do it very, very quickly if it needs to. This has happened in a matter of days previously.

“The last thing we would is a piece of key legislation heading through parliament while the key decisions are already being taken. We will have to look at the timetable on that – and the government owns the timetable on that. They can change the order of business for the day.

“The problem is we don’t have a law on the books that we need.”

Starmer, who admitted his love of Arsenal, one of the six breakaway ESL clubs, in the opening exchanges of today’s emergency meeting hopes the pain since Sunday’s ESL announcement can turn into a chance to reset English football along the right path.

"This isn’t a bolt from the blue – we’ve been on a slippery slope as far as football is concerned. Money, money, money has been the only driving imperative and fans have been disregarded and frankly disrespected. And that’s why we must do something about it,” he said.

"Let’s turn what has been a very emotional 24 hours where we have worried about the future of football into a turning point where a lot of the problems that have been wrong with football for so many years are addressed once and for all, in a very serious forward-looking kind of way which pays proper regard to fans, proper regard to football top to bottom and invests in the grassroots, in the football clubs and brings the football family back together.”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Newcastle United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription; sign up here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor