Pep Guardiola has launched a scathing attack on the proposed European Super League, with Manchester City’s manager stating “it is not a sport” if teams are guaranteed to play in it each season. City are one of 12 founder members of the ESL, yet Guardiola is fiercely critical of the format of a 20-club league of which 15 are planned to be the same every year.
“If you ask me [why] these teams have been selected, I don’t know the reason why,” he said. “It is not a sport where the relation between the effort and the success, the effort and the reward, does not exist. It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed or it is not a sport when it doesn’t matter where you lose.
“That’s why I said many times, I want the best competition, the strongest competition possible, especially the Premier League. It is not fair when one team fight, fight, fight, arrive at the top and cannot qualify because success is already guaranteed just for a few teams.
“I don’t know what is going to change. [Even if] the people say: ‘No, no, maybe four or five teams can go up and play this competition,’ [then] what happens to the 14 or 15 not playing a good season and every time will be there? So this is not sport.”
Guardiola, who is preparing for Wednesday night’s game at Aston Villa, demanded public clarification from the organisers regarding the plans when asked whether he had discussed the issue with his players. “No because it is an embryo not yet breathing … it is just a statement. That is the reality. We are going to play the Champions League next week [against Paris Saint-Germain] and we are going to try to reach the final and next season we are going to play [it again] because we deserve it, we won it [qualified for it] on the pitch.
“The players have to be focused on Aston Villa. People have the obligation, have the duty to clarify as soon as possible; today better than tomorrow, tomorrow better than the day after tomorrow. Come out all around the world [and speak] because this is a worldwide issue and clarify what is the situation that is going to come.
“Why these teams play [in the ESL] and the other ones not? Why Ajax Amsterdam [for example], they have four Champions Leagues – why will they not be there? So they have to clarify. I don’t have all the information.”
The 14 English top-flight clubs not involved in the Super League met Premier League and Football Association representatives on Tuesday and a strongly worded statement was issued afterwards by the league. “The 14 clubs at the meeting unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition,” it said. “The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those shareholders involved to account under its rules.
“The League will continue to work with key stakeholders including fan groups, government, Uefa, the FA, EFL, PFA and LMA to protect the best interests of the game and call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.”