The recent proposals for a European Super League have created severe headaches for the political leaders of the three nations involved. However, the pain is uniquely acute for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The English Premier League is the wealthiest football league in the world and six of the 12 teams initially signed up to the new competition are from England, with three coming from Spain and Italy respectively.
The Premier League is seen as a great British success story. It’s been estimated that the league’s contribution to the UK economy is worth over $10 billion, while nearly 200 countries broadcast games.
Consequently, Johnson has more political skin in the game than his Spanish and Italian counterparts.
Along with other European leaders, Johnson has come out strongly against the Super League.
“How can it be right that you create a kind of cartel that stops clubs playing against each other without the hope and excitement of fans up and down the country? Johnson told a Downing Street news briefing on Tuesday.
He’s repeatedly said that the football authorities have his government’s “full backing to take whatever action necessary to put a stop to these plans.” On Tuesday, the Premier League said it was “considering all actions available” to prevent a Super League from progressing.
When pressed on the matter, Johnson’s official spokesperson said that even if authorities, such as the Premier League, lose their nerve and go along with the Super League, the current tone of the government suggests it’s unlikely to back down.
In a statement to Parliament on Monday Johnson’s Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, made clear this meant exploring some drastic measures.
“We are examining every option, from governance reform, to competition law, and the mechanisms that allow football to take place. Put simply, we will be reviewing everything the Government does to support these clubs to play,” he said.