Premier League seeks ‘big six’ clubs’ removal from committees after Super League debacle
Executives from clubs which sparked a civil war in English football by joining the now-abandoned European Super League have been handed an ultimatum to step down from key Premier League sub-committees.
Sky News has learnt that Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, contacted executives on Wednesday including Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman, and Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal chief executive, to request that they relinquish their roles on the working groups.
Club sources said that Mr Buck, who is a member of the Premier League’s audit and remuneration committee, and Mr Venkatesham, who sits on the Club Strategic Advisory Group (CSAG), had been asked by Mr Masters to step down voluntarily or face being removed against their will.
Ferran Soriano, who runs Manchester City, was also asked to step down from CSAG, according to insiders.
The Premier League is also seeking the removal of the Manchester United and Liverpool executives Ed Woodward and Tom Werner from its Club Broadcast Advisory Group, the sources added.
Tottenham Hotspur, the sixth club involved in the planned defection, is not thought to be represented on the affected Premier League committees.
The request from Mr Masters underlines the potentially protracted consequences of the big six clubs’ efforts to join a continental league, which would have resulted in England’s six biggest clubs each receiving windfalls worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
All six withdrew from the new competition on Tuesday following a vitriolic backlash from fans, players and coaches, and the threat of sporting and legislative sanctions from football federations and governments.
Mr Woodward announced on Tuesday evening that his long tenure at Old Trafford would come to an end later this year, triggering speculation that the Glazer family may seek to sell its remaining stake in the club after more than 15 years.
The Premier League’s request to the executives to step down from key working groups followed a meeting between the 14 other ‘shareholders’, in which they expressed bitterness at the duplicity of the clubs which had been in secret talks to join the Super League.
The Daily Mail reported that some of the 14 clubs had complained that the Super League clubs executives had been “acting like spies” during meetings of the relevant Premier League sub-committees.
At least one of the club executives asked to step down on Wednesday is said to have reacted angrily to the suggestion.
Mr Masters is understood to have sought a voluntary decision from the big six executives but warned that they risked being forcibly removed from the working groups if they did not agree to step down.
Premier League executives are ultimately keen to heal the rifts which have simmered in recent months over potential reforms but which erupted into open warfare at the weekend.
However, Mr Masters’ request for the executives’ removal underlines the fact that divisions between the big six and the other clubs are likely to be exposed for some time.
After Sky News revealed details of the Super League negotiations last October, Mr Woodward told Wall Street analysts that he was unaware of the project and that his attention was focused on reforming existing European club competitions.
Formal confirmation of the Super League’s existence on Sunday night sparked fury throughout European football, with an unprecedented alignment of political and sporting figures against the breakaway from UEFA.
A Premier League spokeswoman declined to comment on Wednesday.
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