The recently proposed European Super League was central in most pre- and post-match interviews today, with Liverpool’s captain James Milner and the Leeds striker both voicing their frustrations and a feeling of powerlessness in the face of the changes.
For Milner, the players have very little they feel they can do in the face of news about the ESL proposal.
“We just have to be professional and concentrate on the game as that’s the only thing we can control.”
The team had no prior knowledge ahead of yesterday’s announcement, per the Liverpool skipper.
“Same as everyone else, we learned about it yesterday, and that’s the first we’d heard of it.”
Milner had no qualms in coming out against the proposed league, positioning himself alongside the many supporters voicing their disapproval.
“[Players have] a lot of questions, I can say in my personal opinion I don’t like it, hopefully it doesn’t happen...I agree with what’s been said about it [in critiques].”
Given the players’ position, Milner had some trouble with the hostile welcome he and his teammates experienced as they arrived to the match tonight.
“The players obviously have no say, so their welcome to the ground tonight felt a bit unjust obviously, because we have to play football and have no control of it.”
Patrick Bamford of Leeds United came out, if anything, even more strongly against both the proposals — and also had derision for the uproar around financial concerns above all else in football. He echoed Milner’s insistence that they had no inside knowledge of the proposal.
“[The players] have just seen pretty much what everyone else has seen, like on Twitter and stuff. It’s amazing what everyone’s talking about — I can’t quite comprehend it.
“It’s amazing the amount of uproar that comes into the game when somebody’s pockets are being hurt. It’s a shame it’s never like that with other things that go wrong at the minute, with racism and stuff like that, but it’s just how it is.”
Bamford emphasized the centrality of fans — and on how this proposal seems to overlook them.
For me personally on Twitter and in the news I’ve not seen a single football fan who’s happy about the decision.
“I think football ultimately is because and is for the fans, so, without the fans every single club would be pretty much nothing. And it’s important that we stand our ground and show that football is for the fans and try to keep it that way.”
The central message coming from both Liverpool, one of the six who have formed to join the new league, and Leeds United, who took no part in these discussions, are united against the proposal.
Players join seemingly the majority of fans — and many pundits — against proposed changes in European competition.
Note: These interviews were not played in full on NBCSN, who presented only comments on the game at hand.