Gary Neville has lambasted the Premier League ‘big six’ following an attempt to form a breakaway Super League.
A fan-led review is underway, courtesy of the government, which will reportedly take a look into ownership models.
“We nearly lost it, we nearly lost football in this country, in the way in which we’ve always known it which is fair and competitive. And we nearly lost our top six clubs from it. How can we be in that position ever again?” the pundit told Sky Sports.
“Most of us would go along with a theory of an apology is acceptable. An apology is not acceptable in this instance, with regards to the six clubs. It can never be accepted, because last Sunday what they announced was the attempted murder of English football.
“They attempted to kill English football forever, and they would have done it if they could. They attempted to take £300m extra every single year for the next 23 years as a guarantee for a different competition that other clubs couldn’t get into.”
The 46-year-old made clear his opinion that the clubs in question should not simply be welcomed back with open arms without severe consequences being dished out for their involvement in the European Super League plans.
“Any punishments that can be handed to those six clubs in the short term should be given to them. Any punishments that can be given to them legally should be given, I’m absolutely certain of that,” Neville said.
“Do I want these six clubs in English football? Absolutely. We need them in English football. The Premier League is done without these six clubs, and they know that it’s done. We’d lose what would be a large part of the history of English football, but they have to be punished in whichever way they can.
“I think most football fans would be in support of the German model, but we don’t have that in this country, and it’s how we reverse out of that – the only way is not going to be through individual declarations for each club, it’s going to come from government legislation.”
The suggestion of the German 50+1 fan-led model is one that has been circulated, which would, in practice, hand more power to the fans in the running of their clubs.
It’s something we’d certainly support in the bid to build a climate of greater transparency and trust, though it’s difficult to see the owners willingly signing off on a new model that severely detracts from their level of control.
Whatever sanctions our meted out in the meantime, we’d still encourage those involved to consider how punishments might indirectly harm the players and coaches rather than targeting those responsible – the owners.