Wigan Athletic legend hits out at 'criminal' ESL plan

Wigan Athletic legend Tommy Gore has hit out at the proposed European Super League – which he believes is an ‘absolutely criminal’ act against supporters in this country.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 5:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 5:28 pm
One of a number of banners left outside Anfield this week, with similar scenes at Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadum

Gore played a key role in Latics kicking-off their Football League journey over four decades ago, a memorable journey which led them into the Premier League and European competition, as well as FA Cup glory.

He also came through the ranks at boyhood heroes Liverpool, and he pulls no punches in condemning his club’s role in the attempted coup.

“It’s obviously come as such a shock to hear the news, you can’t quite believe what’s going on,” he told the Wigan Post.

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“The idea of having a closed shop at the top of European football, doing away with the pyramid system, where you can’t even dream...it’s wrong.

“You’ve only got to look at what Wigan have achieved since joining the Football League...playing in all four divisions, winning the FA Cup, and then eventually playing in Europe.

“In football, it’s so important to have that dream for everyone connected to the club – the supporters more so than anybody.

“The players can always move to another club to get into that closed shop, but the fans can’t move, they can’t change their club.

“To take away that dream for so many is absolutely criminal. It’ll be a very, very sad day for football if this thing moves forward.”

Gore believes his former club Liverpool are totally out of order in their actions.

“Absolutely, I think the ownership of Liverpool have got an awful lot to answer for,” he said.

“On the whole they’ve been great for the club since coming in, redeveloping the stadium and delivering success on the field. But once or twice they’ve been out of sync with the supporters...with ticket prices and wanting to take money from the government last year during the pandemic.

“They’ve had to backtrack on those issues, and you wonder whether it’s because they’re so far away in the States.

“They’re obviously running it as a business, and the sad thing is football is now a business for so many, with the sporting side behind that.

“Hopefully key figures in the game will now start to mobilise against it.

“We’ve already seen a few of the top managers and players making noises, intimating they don’t like it.

“And I think it’s important all the anger is directed at the owners and the clubs, rather than the managers and players who have nothing to do with it – and obviously the supporters.

“I’ve yet to actually hear anyone come out and say it’s a good idea, and hopefully common sense will prevail before it’s too late.”

Gore comments came as the breakaway plans were “unanimously and vigorously” rejected by the other 14 members of the top flight.

Those clubs met yesterday for an emergency meeting after plans for the hugely controversial competition were confirmed on Sunday night.

They have been widely condemned by the football authorities in England, plus UEFA and FIFA, as well as by the British Government, and have sparked widespread supporter protests.

A statement released by the Premier League after its meeting read: “The 14 clubs at the meeting unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition.

“The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those shareholders (clubs) involved to account under its rules.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin urged the English breakaway group to “come to their senses” as Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the football authorities that no action by the Government is off the table in seeking to stop the Super League.

Altogether 12 clubs have signed up as founder members of the Super League, with the intention being that a further three clubs join to make up the core group, who cannot be relegated.

Five additional clubs would then be invited on an annual basis to participate in a 20-team competition.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, whose club are one of the signatories, was asked about the plans and said: “It is not a sport where the relation between effort and success does not exist.

“It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed, it is not a sport where it doesn’t matter when you lose.”

There are reports that the commitment of some clubs is beginning to waver in the face of widespread opposition to the plans.

Ceferin, who referred to the orchestrators of the Super League plans as “snakes” and “liars” on Monday, said it was not too late for them to turn back when he spoke at UEFA Congress.

“Gentlemen, you made a huge mistake,” he said, addressing the English clubs directly.

“What matters is that there is still time to change your mind. Everyone makes mistakes.

“Come to your senses, not out of love for football, because I imagine some of you don’t have much of that, but out of respect for those who bleed themselves dry so that they can go to the stadium to support the team and want the dream to be kept alive.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino spoke at the same event.

Though he stopped short of saying Super League players would be banned from future World Cups, he warned the breakaway clubs: “If some elect to go their own way then they must live with the consequences of their choice. They are responsible for their choice.

“Concretely, this means either you’re in or you’re out. You cannot be half in or half out.”

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