Nigel Clough slams plans for new European Super League
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough has slammed the proposed breakway European Super League as 'dangerous', 'extremely selfish' and going against basic competition in the game.
The so-called 'Big Six' clubs of the Premier League have announced plans to join with other top European sides to form a new midweek competition from which they cannot be relegated.
But football's governing bodies are contemplating the exclusion of those clubs from domestic competitions and possibly even banning their players from representing their countries in major world and European tournaments.
It could spell the end of the game as it's been been known for many years and Clough today joined the widespread condemnation.
“I have only seen the headlines, not the full details, and the good thing is I don't think it's going to affect us,” he said.
“But I think it's a very dangerous development.
“When terms like 'breakaway' and clubs going off doing their own thing are used, usually it's for the benefit of those few clubs involved and to the detriment of everyone else in football.
“These top clubs view themselves as exclusive and almost as if they have a god-given right to be one of the best clubs in Europe and the world. But it goes against the competition side of it.
“In English football we have our stories like Wimbledon years ago going up through the leagues and even Burton a few years back going from non-league to the Championship.”
He added: “The principle of competition is that anyone can go up or go down. I think this goes against that principle.
“If you have no relegation then it doesn't matter if you are bottom, second from bottom or third from bottom, it doesn't make any difference to you.
“In this exclusive competition if you are not going to win it and you have five or six games to go, what are you playing for? They'll just send out the U23s or something.”
Clough hopes a compromise can be reached that proves acceptable to all.
“It needs a lot of looking at, a lot of discussion by the wider football community, rather than just the few clubs,” he said.
“You have to to engage everybody and try to find the best way forward.
“The powers of the governing bodies of football throughout the world are diminishing slightly. But they still hold significant powers about when players can play and they have to use them.”
The prospect of never drawing one of the top six clubs in the FA Cup and that magical life-saving payday those games can produce will be of concern to the clubs in the EFL and below
“Fans of teams outside that top six and even fans within that top six that are fair-minded will be concerned about it,” said Clough.
“It is an absolute lifeline for clubs to draw one of the top six. I know that from our experience at Burton when we drew Manchester United all those years ago.
“To take that away I think that is extremely selfish by the top six. I don't think the football fan base will be too accepting of it.
“I think even those top six clubs would want the opportunity to play those cup ties as well.
“They don't want to be just playing Juventus and AC Milan or whoever in this exclusive group. If you are a football supporter you love the cup games as well.
“It might only be once in five or 10 years that a League Two side will get that opportunity. When it does come along people remember it for years and years. It will be a tragedy if that is taken away from us.”
He continued: “This has been rumoured for quite a few years but it's always been batted back.
“To get this sort of thing through is still unlikely but it's concerning they are now discussing it at this level.
“How it affects everyone else further down the pyramid we'll have to wait and see.”
With England potentially being unable to call on its best players for a World Cup in future, former international Clough said: “These are the sort of knock-on effects that have to be seriously considered and discussed.
“This is the power these governing bodies hold and have to use them for the good of football.
“If they is saying you're not playing for your country if you play in that then I think that is for the benefit of football.”
Fans can only imagine how Nigel's outspoken late father Brian would have reacted.
“My dad would not even like the Champions League as it is now with the group stages. He loved it as a cup,” he said.
“Forest, famously, the first tie they got in it, they drew holders Liverpool in the first round. That doesn't happen now.
“The format has taken away an element of the cup mentality about it - who can you draw in the first round like the FA Cup third round? It was open.
“Even the format means, unless you have a bad time, you are almost guaranteed to get into the last 16.”