Former players at some of England’s top football clubs have hit out at plans to create a European super league, calling the proposals a "joke", "greed" and a "disgrace".
Among the ‘Big Six’ English clubs involved in the breakaway project are Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, according to Sky News City editor Mark Kleinman.
The new competition is thought to include 12 European teams such as Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid – but French and German clubs have refused to sign up to it.
The competition is set to be launched to rival UEFA’s Champions League format which currently dominates European football.
But UEFA along with football authorities in England, Spain and Italy have all expressed their opposition to it.
And Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, tweeted: "With many fans, we are concerned that this plan could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game.
"Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that undermines this is deeply troubling and damaging for football.
"We have a football pyramid where funds from the globally successful Premier League flow down the leagues and into local communities. I would be bitterly disappointed to see any action that destroys that."
Ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville told Sky Sports he was "absolutely disgusted" with the plans and it was "pure greed".
He said: "I’m disgusted with Manchester United and Liverpool the most. They’re breaking away into a league without competition that they can’t be relegated from? It’s an absolute disgrace.
"We have to wrestle back the power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league – and that includes my club.
"It’s pure greed, they’re imposters. The owners of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, they are nothing to do with football in this country.
"Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham aren’t even in the Champions League. And they want a God-given right to be in there? They’re an absolute joke.
"The time has come now to have independent regulators to stop these clubs from having the power base. Enough is enough."
He also said: "I’m not against the modernisation of football competitions, we have the Premier League, the Champions League.
"But I think to bring forward proposals in the midst of COVID and the economic crisis for all clubs is an absolute scandal.
"United and the rest of the ‘Big Six’ that have signed up to it against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves."
Neville added: "They should deduct six points off all six teams that have signed up to it. Deduct points off them all. To do it during a season? It’s a joke."
Former United captain Roy Keane added: "I think it comes down to money, greed.
"Obviously we’ve heard nothing from FIFA yet but it doesn’t sound good. Let’s hope it’s stopped in its tracks.
"We talk about the big clubs. Bayern Munich are one of the biggest clubs in the world – at least they’ve made a stand, which is a good start."
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards said: "The Premier League has been run amazingly.
"We all know it’s a business but what happens to the fans, the memories fans have had over the years? Are they just forgotten about for the sake of money?
"I think it’s an absolute disgrace, to be honest."