Premier League to rewrite rules to ban any future breakaway plot

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Premier League plans new rule to expel clubs who plot breakaways after Super League fiasco - Getty Images
Premier League plans new rule to expel clubs who plot breakaways after Super League fiasco - Getty Images

The Premier League is set to introduce changes to its rulebook which would prevent any future breakaways by the 'Big Six' rebel clubs.

A global furore around the European Super League fiasco has cemented the determination of top tier executives to agree on new legal powers.

Competition law changes are being considered as part of an internal governance review sparked even before the Project Big Picture domestic coup last autumn.

While new laws are expected to stop short of immediate expulsions, lawyers are understood to be working through options that would be designed to make it impossible for any club to join a breakaway.

A new clause - which could be voted for by the clubs ahead of the review being concluded this year - is set to remove any ambiguity around England top tier's existing rule L9, which lists competitions that member clubs can play in.

A tougher stance will also reassure twitchy broadcasters who are already planning to demand guarantees that the 'Big Six' rebels are handcuffed to the competition in the imminent media rights sell off.

Plans for the law change come after a tumultuous week in which Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs staged an about-turn just 48 hours after announcing a bombshell breakaway with six wealthy European rivals. On another dramatic day of fallout, it also emerged:

  • The Government's fan-led review will consider interventions to protect clubs whose owners want to move cities or changing club badges

  • The English clubs involved in the breakaway plot will “suffer the appropriate consequences”, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin warned

  • Premier League managers outside the 'Big Six' present their ideas, with Everton's Carlo Ancelotti backing a salary cap to protect football’s competitive ideals.

Ceferin has continued to rage over the plans, aiming most of his wrath at Real Madrid over their ongoing refusal to walk away from the ESL.

European football's most senior administrator warned all those involved would “suffer the appropriate consequences", but hinted the English clubs may escape bans, after grovelling apologies. "I would say that the English clubs have made a very good decision and we will take that into account," Čeferin told Slovenian news outlet 24UR.

Governments and governing bodies, both domestically and internationally, are still considering their next steps in bringing the disgraced 12 clubs to account. Having triggered a manifesto pledge for a fan-led review this week, the Government last night outlined the terms of reference of its investigations which include a four-point plan.

The review says it will "seek to make recommendations on how the governance of the game can be improved, putting fans’ interest and experiences first".

The four-point plan hints at powers to stop clubs being able to move or change identities, for example when Wimbledon became MK Dons. Legislation would also prevent franchise-style ownership where teams can move cities to attract new commercial interest.

The review says it will seek to: "Assess existing scrutiny of club finances and administrative reporting"; "appraise financial flows through the whole football pyramid; "examine geographical, historical and identity protections for clubs; and "examine club interests and league systems and how these interact within the pyramid".

“We must capitalise on this momentum," said the sports minister Nigel Huddleston. Tracey Crouch, the MP who leads the review, added that "it will look closely at the issues of governance, ownership and finance and take the necessary steps to retain the game’s integrity, competitiveness and, most importantly, the bond that clubs have with its supporters and the local community.”

Ministers have already hinted they could eventually pass a German model of 51 per cent fan ownership at clubs.

Meanwhile, Ancelotti has instead suggested a salary cap is a potential solution to protect football’s competitive ideals. The Italian, who managed four of the ‘founder clubs’ of the ill-fated ESL proposals, branded the failed scheme a "joke", but accepted change is needed to prevent a widening gap between the wealthiest and the rest.

“I am not a politician to talk about this, but there are a lot of instruments that you can use. One, for example, is a salary cap that could be used to improve the competition,” said Ancelotti. Roy Hodgson added that the fabric of football was “in danger of being torn apart” by the breakaway.