The Superleague and questions for Number Ten

26 Apr

“Finally, there is a puzzle about the whole business. Real Madrid and Barcelona are the last clubs left standing. They seem to have squared Spain’s government in advance, as the Italian clubs may have Italy’s.

It is odd that the Big Six didn’t try to screw a similar commitment out of our own Government – one of the strangest aspects of this strange story.” (ConservativeHome, April 22.)

We apologise for our bad habit, shared with a majority of people worldwide, of highlighting our own prescience (while passing over the many times that we get it all wrong).

But is seems that it in this case our suspicions may have been justified.  Claims have been circulating in the media since last week that Dan Rosenfield, Downing Street’s Chief of Staff, gave Ed Woodward, Manchester United’s Vice-Chair, the thumbs-up for the Football Superleague plan when they met in Number Ten on Wednesday April 14 – and that Woodward then passed this signal on to other senior figures among the “Big Six”.

Caroline Wheeler of the Sunday Times set out the main contours of the allegations on Twitter yesterday evening, citing “multiple sources”.  ConservativeHome has now spoken to others who tell the same story. It is important to note that Woodward denies the claims and that Rosenfield, a Manchester United fan himself, says that the meeting solely concerned Covid restrictions, opening up football, and the return of fans.

Wheeler says that “Boris Johnson is always said to have been against plans, and he asked Eddie Lister to communicate that directly to some SL backers”.

Rightly or wrongly, our take is that this story will prove more gripping to the public than a mass of claims and counter-claims about who leaked what to whom when.

It wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Culture Select Committee summons Rosenfield, Woodward, and various Big Six figures, and asks them on the record about whatever it was that took place.