Gordon Taylor, the outgoing chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, has praised the role of players in derailing the breakaway European Super League project.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, team-mate James Milner and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan were among those to voice opposition to plans for the ‘closed-shop’ league involving Liverpool, City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham and others across Europe.
Players from other clubs outside the so-called ‘big six’ also played a role, with Leeds notably wearing T-shirts in opposition while warming up for their match against Liverpool a day after the plans were made public.
It was part of a widespread backlash which ultimately saw the English clubs withdraw from the league along with Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan, although Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are yet to follow even as the plans lie in tatters.
“I just felt the reaction was brilliant, coming from our members, coming in from managers, coming from Government, coming from Prince William etc,” said Taylor, who added that the PFA had no prior knowledge of the proposals.
“The reaction was good and I think we need to be mindful of that… Above all they have shown how much they care about supporters.
“I felt there was a real feeling of what sport was about, about its uncertainty and about its magic and about the ability to have dreams and achieve them. If we lose that we’re really not being respectful to our heritage. I felt it was a great response.”
Taylor also criticised the new Champions League format, which will see the competition increase from 32 to 36 teams from the 2024-25 season, with a new-look group stage that will see all teams play at least 10 fixtures.
“They (UEFA) keep going to the well for more and more games and looking at quantity rather than quality,” he added.
“We do need to be mindful of the health and safety of our players because, even though we’ve made massive improvements with regard to medicine and science and sport science, it is still only an average eight-year career because of the intensity of the competition.”