Gary Neville has celebrated the downfall of the European Super League as Premier League clubs succumbed to fan pressure and withdrew from the contentious competition.
On a quite remarkable day in recent football history, six Premier League clubs rowed back on their plans to break off into a European Super League after unprecedented levels of fan outrage and pressure from high-profile pundits, of whom Gary Neville was one of the most vocal.
Neville’s former club Manchester United confirmed their withdrawal on Tuesday night; along with Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
United also announced that long-time Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward would be stepping down from his role at the club at the end of this year but there was no suggestion from the club that his departure had anything to do with the ill-advised plans to join the Super League.
It’s been reported that Harry Maguire confronted Woodward about the Super League plans, while it’s since emerged that Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw made it clear to the 49-year-old that they didn’t agree with the decision.
Also Manchester United could leave the #SuperLeague soon.
Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw were the spokesmen of the squad's dissatisfaction against the #SuperLeague. That’s how it started and that’s why Ed Woodward decided to resign [at the end of 2021]. 🔴 #MUFC #ManUtd
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 20, 2021
“We obviously don’t know why the timing is now,” Neville said of Woodward’s departure.
“The leeches could have thrown him under a bus, there’s no doubt about that. Or it could have been that the sensible thing has happened that Ed Woodward knew it was going to get pretty hot in the kitchen for him in the next few months and he needed to get out of there.
“The fact of the matter is, not just Ed Woodward, every single executive who goes and sits at the Premier League table, every single executive who is on these Uefa or Fifa committees, they need throwing out of that club because there is no way they can turn up again and be trusted.”
Neville and Sky Sports colleague Jamie Carragher welcomed the news of their beloved clubs’ respective withdrawals from the European Super League and both insisted that the owners of United and Liverpool have no chance of repairing their relationship with supporters.
Neville praised fans for how vehemently they voiced their dissatisfaction, as well as the several players and managers who publicly expressed their disagreement with the European Super League proposals.
“Ed Woodward knew his time in football was finished, probably this morning, and he’s probably done that to probably keep away from the criticism that would have come his way in the next few months,” continued Neville.
“However, Ed Woodward is the trunk of the tree. We now need to go for the roots because I said last night on Monday Night Football, I felt complicit. They’ve declared their hand.
“While they were peacefully sat at the club not making a statement, never showing their hand and never doing media conferences. Yes, they were taking money out of the club, yes, they were leveraged against the club. There was nothing we could do about that once the club became a PLC, but I said last night they attacked every single football fan in this country with what they did.
“Jamie Carragher has just talked about FSG having no place in Liverpool, the Glazers have no place in Manchester anymore.
"It's the owners of the clubs, not the football clubs, that are the big problem."@Carra23 believes football fans should be 'proud' of the part they've played in the reaction to the proposed European Super League. pic.twitter.com/pi9khXTnJv
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 20, 2021
“We have to work hard together to ensure that ownership rules in this country are changed, that we have a system whereby this cannot happen. Whether this is government intervention or an independent regulator. Whether it be a fan-owned club rule, whatever it is, we have to make sure that this is the catalyst for change.
“The people have spoken. We were on the brink of anarchy if this continued. The Chelsea fans who turned up on Tuesday, the Leeds and Liverpool fans on Monday, the social media presence, and these six sets of owners in this country and the other ones in Europe have misread this situation badly.
“We are in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve been locked in for months. We are not in a decent place here and they’ve tried to run away with the crown jewels while we are all down.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 21, 2021
“They’ve basically made everybody rise and I can’t wait for the next season. I can’t wait for fans to be back in the stadiums because there has to be a concerted organised, mobilised, strategic effort to change football in this country now.
“I’ve been part of a small group for 12 months that’s been working towards change behind the scenes around independent regulators to make sure that there is a fairer game.
“Still a brilliant Premier League, still players getting paid a lot of money, so we have the best players in the world and the best managers in the world. There will be no expense of that but that there is an element of fairness to what we do and James Milner last night, well done to you.
“Well done to Jurgen Klopp for speaking out because that takes real guts. Well done to Luke Shaw, to Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire. Well done to Patrick Bamford and well done to the Leeds players for wearing those t-shirts. Well done to all the fans up and down the country.
“Enough is enough.”