Ministers trying to block the breakaway European Super League (ESL) are looking at “a range” of sanctions, Downing Street has confirmed.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said that boosting football fan ownership, new competition law and clawing back Covid relief cash handed to Premier League clubs were all being considered by the government.
A decision by the ‘Big Six’ of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham to join the planned ESL has been met with widespread fury.
The ESL said the founding clubs would compete in a “new midweek competition” with teams continuing to “compete in their respective national leagues”.
But many feel the new league will damage domestic leagues and goes against the integrity of the sport.
The PM said it was “not good news” for fans and that he and culture secretary Oliver Dowden would do “everything” possible to stop the ESL forming.
The spokesman was also asked about a proposal of clawing back taxpayer money given to clubs in coronavirus loans.
Arsenal borrowed £120m and Spurs £175m via the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility - a form of low-cost borrowing to help firms get through the pandemic.
“Again, another suggestion put forward. We want to look at everything possible, we’re not ruling anything in or out, we want to look at the options,” the spokesman said.
Asked if the prime minister backs a German-style system of 51% fan ownership of clubs, his official spokesman said on Monday: “I’ve seen a number of proposals that have been put forward as potential solutions or mitigations for this, I’m not at this stage planning on getting into each one.
“We’re considering a range of options and the prime minister wants to look at everything we can do here to make sure these proposals don’t go ahead as proposed.”
Asked about new legislation or existing competition regulations being used, he said: “We’re not looking to rule anything out at this stage.”
Downing Street has said details of the fan-led review of football governance promised in the last Tory manifesto will be set out “in due course”.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We’ve continued to work closely with fans and football stakeholders on issues.
“I think, as I’m sure you’ll accept, the focus has been on the global pandemic and the response to that, and that includes protecting the immediate future of football clubs, but we will build on this with our fan-led Government review as soon as possible.”
Asked when it will get the go-ahead, he said: “We will set out details in due course.”
Unlike the Champions League, which teams must qualify for, the ESL would include the same 15 teams every year, with the remaining five qualifying annually.
World governing body Fifa had previously said it would not recognise a European Super League, and any players involved could be denied the chance to play at a World Cup.