Sir Alex Ferguson: European Super League would end 70 years of football history

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Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has said a breakaway European Super League would be a move away from 70 years of football history and that fans love the Champions League as it is.

Twelve of Europe's top clubs -- including Ferguson's United -- announced on Sunday they were launching a breakaway Super League, headed by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

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A total of six Premier League clubs have signed up to plans for a new league which would be a rival to UEFA's Champions League.

Ferguson, who won the Champions League twice with United after having European success with Scottish club Aberdeen, told Reuters that he enjoyed "special nights" in the Champions League.

"Talk of a Super League is a move away from 70 years of European club football," he told Reuters. "Both as a player for a provincial team Dunfermline in the 60s and as a manager at Aberdeen winning the European Cup Winners' Cup, for a small provincial club in Scotland it was like climbing Mount Everest.

"Everton are spending £500 million to build a new stadium with the ambition to play in Champions League. Fans all over love the competition as it is.

"In my time at United, we played in four Champions League finals and they were always the most special of nights."

Gary Neville, Ferguson's former captain, interrupted his commentary on Sky Sports coverage of United's victory against Burnley to criticise the breakaway plans.

"I'm not against the modernisation of football competitions, with have the Premier League, we have the Champions League," he said.

"But to bring forward proposals in the midst of COVID, in the midst of the economic crisis that exists for all clubs is an absolute scandal.

"United and the rest of the big six clubs that have signed up to it against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves.

"Are Arsenal in that? They have just drawn with Fulham, Manchester United are drawing with Burnley. I cannot concentrate on the game. To sign up to the Super League during a season is a joke, they should deduct points off all six of them."

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy said players would be risking too much to take part in the proposed Super League.

"The plans ... sound soulless," he told the BBC. "We've already seen strong opposition from leagues and federations who would be affected, and fans as well. Next, I think we will see a backlash from managers and players too."

World soccer's governing body FIFA has previously threatened to ban any players taking part in a breakaway from participating in World Cups and Murphy said the consequences for players could be severe.

"You're also being told you can no longer play for your country if you are part of this," he added. "Again, that's what you dream of doing as a kid, so I just don't see many footballers agreeing to that, which actually gives me hope that this whole idea will quickly fall apart."

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane said the Super League was all about "money and greed."

"Let's hope it's stopped in its tracks," he told Sky Sports. "We talk about big clubs, Bayern Munich are one of the biggest clubs in the world. At least they've made a stance, which is a good start."

Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards said the new competition had not taken into consideration the fans of clubs.

"What happens to the memories of what the fans have had over the years?" Richards said.

"They're just forgotten about for the sake of money, and that's the way football has become now. I think it's an absolute disgrace,"

The United Kingdom government also commented on the plans, with culture minister Oliver Dowden saying: "Football supporters are the heartbeat of our national sport and any major decisions made should have their backing.

"With many fans, we are concerned that this plan could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game."