Italian clubs face Serie A ban if they resurrect plans for breakaway league

Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan were among the 12 sides who announced themselves as founder members of the new Super League on April 18.

By Press Association Published: 26 April 2021 - 4.08pm
Football Serie A

Boris Johnson

Italian clubs wishing to participate in a breakaway Super League would be barred from playing in Serie A under new rules set to come into force this summer.

Three of the country’s biggest clubs – Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan – were among the 12 sides who announced on April 18 they were forming a new competition.

The breakaway league collapsed within 72 hours after the six English sides withdrew.

The British Government was credited by UEFA with playing a key role in persuading the Premier League clubs to back down.

However, on Monday Downing Street denied reports the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke to Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward about the Super League and had given him the impression he would back it when they briefly met on April 14.

Football authorities at national and continental level are looking at ways to strengthen their rulebooks to prevent a renewed breakaway attempt, and the federal council of the Italian football federation (FIGC) has moved quickly to approve new licensing rules.

“Those who plan to participate in competitions not authorised by the FIGC, FIFA or UEFA will lose their membership,” the Italian federation’s president, Gabriele Gravina, told its official website, figc.it.

He added: “It is clear that if, on June 21, the deadline for registration applications, someone wants to participate in competitions of a private nature, they will not take part in our championship.”

In England, Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham has warned “nothing is off the table” as it seeks to prevent any fresh attempt at a breakaway.

It is believed the game’s authorities would prefer to avoid sanctions which punish supporters of the clubs involved, after those fans were credited with forcing the withdrawals that happened on Tuesday and the early hours of Wednesday.

The Government has promised support to the football authorities in strengthening anti-competition regulation against any future breakaway attempts.

The Prime Minister was understood to have promised in a meeting on Tuesday – before the withdrawals began – that he would drop a “legislative bomb” on the clubs if they pressed ahead with their plans.

There were concerns among leading figures in the game about how successful any attempt to block a breakaway would have been within existing competition law, so the game’s authorities are still hoping updated legislation can be brought forward.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman has insisted that neither Johnson nor his chief of staff Dan Rosenfield spoke to Woodward about the Super League when the Red Devils executive visited Downing Street four days before the breakaway competition was launched.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward briefly met the Prime Minister on April 14
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward briefly met the Prime Minister on April 14 (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Sunday Times reported that the Prime Minister may have given Woodward – who has since confirmed he will step down from his position at the end of the year – the impression he would back the controversial move.

Asked about Johnson’s talks with Woodward, the official spokesman said on Monday: “There was a very brief introduction to Ed Woodward, I think they crossed paths.

“But the European Super League was not discussed.”

Pressed on whether Rosenfield told Woodward the Government would not oppose the new venture, the number 10 spokesman said: “No, that’s not correct.

“The meeting was to discuss the safe return of fans and Covid certification as part of the events pilot work.”

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