The rebels have made their move, and Gary Neville had barely finished his furious “imposters” tirade before the continent’s newspapers started trotting out the war metaphors.
“Football at war” was the popular choice for editors sending Monday’s print editions to press after 12 football clubs across England, Spain and Italy announced the formation of the European Super League on Sunday night.
Front and back pages alike in Europe declared “war” on all the rich clubs involved, while British papers announced their own “civil war” against England’s “shameless six” – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – who had committed a “criminal act against fans”.
In the UK, the Guardian reported that the 20-team midweek competition, a money-driven venture that would effectively supplant the Champions League and the domestic leagues, had been widely “condemned” and left football “in turmoil”.
The Daily Express was vitriolic and pointed to a widespread backlash from football officials including the Premier League, the FA and Uefa.
The Mail attacked the issue in similar fashion advising the “shameless six” to “back down or break away” after the Premier League wrote directly to its 20 clubs to urge them to walk away “before irreparable damage is done”.
The “civil war” motif flowed into the Metro and i Sport, who were equally disgusted at the systematic disembowelment of England’s generations-old football history in the name of capitalism.
The Mirror labelled the super league, which has been in the pipeline for some time, a “criminal act against fans”, both those who have followed the rebel clubs since before the cash-craziness of modern football, and also the many others rusted on to smaller clubs who will only further suffer financially.
The Times of London took a swing at England’s big six, signalling the sense of self-entitlement had “sparked outrage”.
The Telegraph reported that the “rebel clubs face expulsion over breakaway”.
In France, where no leading clubs – not even Paris St-Germain – have so far signed up, L’Equipe called out Spanish and Italian counterparts Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan for engaging in a “war of the rich” – the breakaway league is worth €6bn.
Italy’s newspapers were more welcoming, with both Gazetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport’s online headlines focused on the “Nasce la Super Lega!” – the birth of the Super League.
Spain’s AS called the news a “bombazo en el fútbol europeo” – a bombshell in European football – while Marca also lead with the birth of the Super League.