Liverpool midfielder James Milner has said he is against the formation of a European Super League and insists the players have no control over the decision which could change the face of football.
Six Premier League sides – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – are part of an initial group of 12 clubs seeking to establish a new 20-team continental competition “as soon as practicable”.
AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid have also signed up as founding clubs, with three more expected to follow before the inaugural season.
But the plan has provoked widespread outrage, with high-profile figures from football and politics uniting to condemn the proposals.
‘I don’t like it and hopefully it doesn’t happen’
Milner is the first player who would be in line to play in the competition to speak out against it after he was asked for his opinion following Liverpool’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Leeds.
“There is a lot of questions,” he told Sky Sports.
“I can only say my personal opinion, I don’t like it and hopefully it doesn’t happen. I can only imagine what has been said about it and I probably agree with most of it.
“I think for us we just try and concentrate on the game, there is obviously a lot going on, but for us we just have to try and be professional and concentrate on the game that is the only thing we can control.”
‘I have no issues with the Champions League’
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had earlier said his own negative opinion of a European Super League had not changed.
Klopp, speaking to Sky Sports ahead of his side’s game at Elland Road, stuck by his words from 2019 when he said he “hoped this Super League will never happen”.
“It didn’t change. My opinion didn’t change,” the German said.
“It is a tough one, people are not happy with that. I can understand that, but I cannot say a lot more about it because we were not involved in any processes – not the players, not me. We didn’t know about it. The facts are out there and we will have to see how it develops.
“I have no issues with the Champions League, I like the competitive factor of football.
“I like the fact that West Ham might play in the Champions League next year. I don’t want them to because we want to do that, but I like that they have the chance.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher called on everyone involved in the sport to unite and battle against the proposals.
“My message to everyone is that these clubs think this is a done deal, I don’t think it is,” he told Monday Night Football.
“Supporters up and down this country can stop it and I really do believe it. At the forefront of that will be Liverpool, because I have seen it before.
“We have tribalism in this country, we have rivalry and that is what makes the game the way it is and that is what we love.
“Football fans get together – all of us in TV, pundits, players, managers get together and stop this.
“It can be stopped and I am convinced of it. Going forward that is what we need – marches on stadiums, supporters getting together. It should not be allowed to happen.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the plans, saying football clubs were more than “great global brands” and needed to have a link with their fans and communities.
Speaking to reporters in Gloucestershire, Johnson said: “We are going to look at everything that we can do with the football authorities to make sure that this doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed.”
Additional reporting from PA