Fans and players made their voices heard prior to the Leeds and Liverpool clash at Elland Road, protesting against plans for a Super League announced by 12 of European football’s most powerful clubs.
Six Premier League teams — Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur — joined forces with Spanish giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid as well as Italian trio Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan to launch the competition.
They plan to leave from the UEFA-sanctioned Champions League and start their new tournament “as soon as possible”, with plans for three more founding members to join and for five other clubs to be invited annually.
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The competition threatens to completely upturn the world’s biggest sport and leaves the prestigious Champions League — itself the fruit of the last major shake-up in European football in 1992 — facing an uncertain future.
Leeds players warmed up in T-shirts pre-match which said: ‘Champions League: Earn It’ along with ‘Football is for the fans’.
It prompted an angry reaction from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who defiantly said his players “will not wear it.”
“If somebody thinks we need to be reminded we need to earn the right to play in the Champions League, that is a joke,” he added.
Post-game Klopp doubled down, telling media: “I don’t think it is right. They put it in our dressing room. I don’t think we deserved that.”
A sign reading ‘#SAYNOTOTHESUPERLEAGUE’ also flew over the stadium.
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The reaction from fans and pundits across Europe has been furious. “It’s the death of football… Football is based on the concept of competitive balance, sporting competition and qualifying on merit,” Tim Payton, head of the Arsenal Supporters Trust, told AFP.
Supporters from both Leeds and Liverpool protested outside Elland Road ahead of Monday’s Premier League match.
A Leeds fan was even recorded playing ABBA’s song ‘Money Money Money’ on a trombone as the Liverpool team boarded their coach.