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Henderson to lead Premier League captains' response to Super League

15:35 BST 20/04/2021
Jordan Henderson Liverpool 2020-21
Skippers from England's top-flight clubs will meet sometime in the next 24 hours to discuss a response to the well-publicised developments

Jordan Henderson is set to lead an emergency meeting of Premier League captains as the fallout from the proposed new European Super League continues.

The Liverpool skipper, Goal can confirm, is at the centre of the players’ response to the plans which have left football in crisis, and which have sparked outrage and condemnation across the game.

The Reds, of course, are one of six Premier League clubs involved in the plans for a breakaway competition, which would threaten to upset the entire balance of the domestic, European and international game as we know it. 

Manager Jurgen Klopp and vice-captain James Milner both expressed reservations about the proposals after Monday’s 1-1 draw with Leeds, when Liverpool’s players and staff were greeted by boos, chanting and banners from a group of 100 or more angry fans outside Elland Road.

What do the players think?

It is understood that the players, the vast majority of whom had no idea that the Super League proposal was coming, have been left bewildered, angry and concerned by events of the last 48 hours.

Some have publicly stated their disapproval. Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes have both posted on social media, while Leeds striker Patrick Bamford said players were “in shock” at the news.

Milner admitted in an interview with Sky Sports on Monday that he hopes the breakaway league, which would have 12 founder clubs from England, Spain and Italy and would replace or compete with the Champions League, does not come to fruition. 

“I don’t like it, I hope it doesn’t happen,” said the veteran midfielder.

Klopp reiterated his stance, first revealed in 2019, that a proposed Super League would be something he disapproves of and on Tuesday afternoon, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola added his name to the list of sceptics, even though City, like Liverpool, would be among the 12 founder members of the Super League.

“It is not a sport where the relation between effort and success does not exist,” Guardiola said. “It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed, it is not a sport where it doesn't matter when you lose.”

Chelsea players are understood to be concerned that the story has impacted their preparations for their league game against Brighton this evening. Their chairman, Bruce Buck, attempted to allay fears over potential UEFA and Premier League punishments during a meeting on Monday night.

What have the clubs involved said?

Not much. Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, have been silent on the matter. The only communication from the Reds to fans, officially, has been a generic statement posted on the club’s website late on Sunday evening, which contained no quotes from anyone involved with FSG.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have been similarly absent, despite vocal and persistent protests from fans of all clubs.

Two Premier League clubs, Fulham and Everton, have issued statements on the matter, with Everton condemning the “preposterous arrogance” of the so-called ‘Super League Six’. 

The Premier League itself announced on Tuesday afternoon that all 14 of the clubs not involved in the Super League had “unanimously and vigorously” rejected the proposals.

They said they were now “considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those Shareholders involved to account under its rules,” and that they would “call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.”

What happens next?

Good question. There have been some reports on Tuesday that at least one of the Premier League clubs involved in the Super League proposals is having major reservations, having been taken aback by the scale and volume of the backlash.

But Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid president, has laughed off claims from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin that players involved in the Super League would be banned from playing for their countries, and that Real, Chelsea and Manchester City could be expelled from this season’s Champions League.

“Impossible, I can assure you of that,” Perez said. “100 per cent, it won’t happen, the law protects us. This is impossible.”

Protests are expected to continue. Chelsea play this evening, Tottenham and Manchester City, as well as Real Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter, are all in action on Wednesday, while Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are due to play La Liga games on Thursday, before Arsenal take on Everton in the Premier League on Friday.

Liverpool host Newcastle on Saturday, and will do so in a stadium stripped of many of its iconic flags and banners, after fan groups opted to withdraw them in a show of disgust against the club’s stance.

In the meantime, it remains to be seen what comes of the players' meeting, which will be held during the next 24 hours. 

Further reading

Emery weighs in on Super League 'war'