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Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton labels the European Super League as ‘sad’ and says it will ‘ruin the English football pyramid’

The European Super League has caused quite the stir since its 12 founding clubs announced their plans for a new competition last night.

The news will hugely affect the Premier League and lower leagues of English football and former Premier League midfielder and Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton says he’d seen it coming for a long time.

“I’ve written and spoken about this for at least a decade”, Barton says during his Monday morning press conference. “I always felt they were going to follow an NFL model because that was the only way these billionaires could turn these clubs into franchises and therefore generate billions of pounds.

“It will ruin the English pyramid, there’s no doubt about that. The legacies of these six [English] clubs will have incredible ramifications across the game in this country and probably the global game as well.”

The announcement has rocked the football world, with the Premier League commenting on the issue, saying huge fines and disqualification would be handed out if they do choose to join the ESL. FIFA and UEFA have also said they’ll issue bans to players who participate in the tournament, meaning they wouldn’t be able to feature in the World Cup or Euros.

Barton believes football has lost its identity and that the game wasn’t created for foreign billionaires to tinker with.

“The community aspect of football clubs can be lost, certainly when you get into the hundreds of millions and billions. Our badge has got 1883 on and we’ve got to remember what football clubs were set up for and who by. It wasn’t for billionaires from different continents to come in and line their own pockets it was ex-miners, socialist communities and groups of people who have invested interest in their local clubs.

“I think I’m lucky to be a part of a football club that’s very much embedded in its local community and one of my key aims is to make us even better at that and immerse the fans into our club more.”

The 38-year-old says the pandemic has drawn attention to the significant part fans play in the sport and to make a decision like this discredits the history of all English clubs.

“We’ve learnt across the past year just how important football fans are and how important clubs can be to their local community. I think the decision is a slap in the face for all of the 96 clubs and hundreds of thousands of people who’ve grown these clubs to what they are today.”

The events that transpire over the coming weeks are sure to shape the future of football as we know it, but if the past 24 hours are anything to go by, the future of football looks futile and bleak.

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