James Milner added his voice to those opposing the proposed European Super League.
Veteran Liverpool midfielder Milner was speaking after a 1-1 draw against his boyhood club Leeds United at Elland Road – a game that was overshadowed by the vitriolic fallout over the breakaway plans that were controversially announced on Sunday.
Liverpool are one of 12 clubs, including all of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ to have signed up for the plans for a new elite European competition that would effectively be a closed shop with permanent membership for 15 teams and with limited opportunities for others to qualify.
Stakeholders across the game, including UEFA and FIFA have strongly criticised the move and Milner followed the pre-match lead of his manager Jurgen Klopp by placing himself at odds with Liverpool’s Boston-based owners, the Fenway Sports Group.
“I can only say my personal opinion. I don’t like it and hopefully it doesn’t happen,” the former Manchester City player told Sky Sports.
“It’s been difficult for us trying to prepare for a game. I can only imagine what’s been said about it and probably agree with most of it.”
Leeds fans protested against the Super League outside the stadium, while their players warmed up in t-shirts instructing Liverpool to “earn” Champions League qualification.
Sadio Mane put the Reds ahead but Diego Llorente’s late header prevented the visitors from securing a win that would have put them above fourth-placed West Ham on goal difference.
“The players have no say. The welcome to the ground felt a bit unjust,” Milner added.
“We’re here to play football and have no control over it.”