Football Features

Should the ‘Big Six’ be punished over ESL plan? Fans from each of the Premier League’s other 14 have their say

By CJ Smith

Published: 9:00, 29 April 2021

The hugely controversial ‘Super League’ project crumbled as quickly as it surfaced and now we wait to see what (if any) punishments are handed out to the clubs involved.

Under intense pressure from their own supporters, with fans turning out in their thousands to protest outside stadiums, and their fellow 14 Premier League clubs, the supposed English ‘Big Six’ were the first to pull out of Florentino Perez’s brainchild, doing so less than 48 hours after announcing their status as ‘Founder Members’.

With a government-led review of the English game to come and still plenty of ill-feeling toward the Big Six’s billionaire beneficiaries and oligarch owners, Squawka has reached out to writers and podcasters covering the other 14 Premier League clubs to get their view on what sanctions should be dished out, if any.

Aston Villa: Danny Hulbert (

“I don’t think a punishment is necessary unless it turns out that the teams involved acted illegally, in which case, the owners of the clubs should be given due process and penalised accordingly under the law. I do believe it is the ‘Big Six’s’ right to pursue other business models as they see fit; however, this whole saga raises some genuine ethical concerns regarding how fans can retain a grip on their beloved clubs. I would potentially like to see a model similar to Germany’s 50+1 rule brought to the table as part of a much-needed Premier League reforms discussion.”

Brighton and Hove Albion: Charlie Haffenden (LetsTalkBHAFC Podcast)

“I think the breakaway clubs getting away without any punishment is almost as scandalous as the Super League itself. A points deduction isn’t necessary in my view, but a significant fine should be imposed on all six, as monetary gain was their main motivation to join in the first place.”

You can follow Charlie on Twitter at @JournoHaff and on Instagram (BHA Today) here

Burnley: Jordan Rushworth (Football League World)

“The Big Six clubs need to be punished in my view to prevent any ideas of a second attempt at the formation of a Super League.

“While punishing these clubs would be harsh on players, managers and supporters who weren’t part of the Super League talks, clubs like Portsmouth, Bury and Sheffield Wednesday have been punished due to the actions of their owners.

“The precedent is there for punishing them. Personally, I’d like to see them receive a heavy fine and also docked 10-15 points for the start of next season.”

You can follow Jordan on Twitter at @rushy_sport

Crystal Palace: Tom Dutton (Squawka freelance writer)

“No fine or points deduction would be enough to stop these clubs from disappearing into the background to work on a revised version of the ESL proposals. Who decided that these teams can wield such control, simply because they were the ‘big sides’ when the music stopped? The game needs independent regulation, and that won’t come from a Uefa or a Fifa still pandering to the richest clubs.

“No team should be allowed to outgrow the pyramid which facilitated its success — a system where sides are rewarded on merit. By all means, give them significant fines, but the biggest punishment at this stage would be an overhaul to football governance. The current system not only accommodated, but also helped nurture the greed at the top of these clubs.”

You can follow Tom on Twitter at @TomDutty

Everton: Dave Downie (The Blue Room Podcast)

“I think it’s essential we see punishments handed out to the ‘Big Six’, but I’d like to see a proactive approach. One of their key mission statements was how this was going to save football. Well, let’s put that into practice and go for a collective financial package with each contributing sizeable amounts to be used further down the football pyramid or in grassroots.”

You can follow Dave on Twitter at @daviddownie17

Fulham: Matthew Rhys Baldwin (Fulham Focus)

“I don’t see how they can be punished because while they agreed to it, they didn’t follow through and they withdrew within a day, so to punish them for what was essentially an empty threat would seem a bit weird.

“And I don’t see what significant, major punishment the authorities could give out that wouldn’t be passed on to the club/fan in some way, whether that be fines (which would be taken out of some budget), or point deductions.

“The only way you could is if you fined the owners directly, but unless it was £10m each, then a monetary fine would be a drop in the ocean to them.”

You can follow Matthew on Twitter at @MattRhys63

Leeds United: Jess Furness (Leaguely Blonde, freelance writer)

“I wholeheartedly believe the ‘Big Six’ clubs should be punished. Rules have been broken. Smaller clubs are punished for lesser offences, Leeds were fined £200k for #SpyGate as one example. If a stand isn’t taken now, who knows what might happen again in the near future. Which punishment will be adequate though? Credit to Patrick Bamford, too, for his passionate and well-spoken post-match interview in the only match of the Super League era.”

You can follow Jess on Twitter at @leaguelyblonde

Leicester City: Kyle Curran (VAVEL & Leicester City VAVEL)

“I believe the clubs and officials involved in trying to set up this Super League should 100% be punished.

“For me, they should be very heavily fined, and any money they pay should go to clubs in the Football League and below. Purely on the basis that they had plans of pure betrayal to the English football system, all for the benefit of the owners, with money being the main prize, which is despicable.”

You can follow Kyle on Twitter at @KyleCurranUOD

Newcastle United: Harry Roy (VAVEL & Tyne Warp Podcast)

“I think heavily sanctioning the clubs involved is the only way you stop anything like this from happening again. As well as a big fine, I’d even go as far as deducting points. Yes, points deductions are unfair on the supporters but the fans of the likes of Portsmouth, Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday weren’t considered when their sides were deducted points, so these six sides shouldn’t get special treatment from the Premier League just because they are some of the biggest clubs in the country.”

You can follow Harry on Twitter at @HarryRoySport

Sheffield United: Harvey Hinkler (Shoreham View Podcast)

“I would like to see the ‘Big Six’ punished much in the same way plenty of other clubs have been due to the carelessness of their owners; points deductions. The cries of ‘unfair on fans and players’ were never heard when it was Bury, Wigan, Birmingham or even Sheffield Wednesday who were suffering and they shouldn’t be adhered to now just because the clubs are of larger stature.”

You can follow Harvey on Twitter at @harvey_hinkler

Southampton: Felix Keith (Freelance writer)

“I would definitely like them to be punished, but I think it’s very unlikely because the Premier League knows full well how much they need the ‘Big Six’. Fining the clubs wouldn’t do much because they all have billionaire owners with deep pockets. Can’t kick them out of the Champions League either for similar reasons. I reckon, therefore, that you could dock them points in the Premier League — that is a proper punishment that might act as a deterrent, especially with so many of the ‘Big Six’ struggling to even qualify for Europe next season.”

You can follow Felix on Twitter at @felixkeith

West Brom: Joe Chapman (Birmingham LiveSquad of Their Time podcast)

“What the ‘Big Six’ of English football (though the nicknames that have been created for them in the wake of the Super League debacle are not quite as complimentary) have attempted to achieve, and will likely do so again, is utterly unacceptable.

“Of course, when we say clubs we mean the owners of those clubs, a number of whom have been historical pillars in English footballing history. These people quite simply don’t understand what they’d be taking away from the game and, quite clearly, the message amid the backlash has got through.

“In short, they should be punished. Sanctions should be in place. It wasn’t the fault of the managers, players or supporters of Portsmouth, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham, Luton or Bournemouth, but they were dealt with strictly for failing to live within their means.

“What these owners have done far outweighs that. It’s an idea built purely on greed and it’s imperative that the deterrent now sends a clear message.”

You can follow Joe on Twitter at @ChapmanJ92

West Ham United: Ben Green (Squawka)

“I think most fans would like to see retrospective action taken in some capacity, if not to immediately hit those out-of-touch owners and their devious, gutless intentions, then to function as a future deterrent for equally misguided ventures to pull the ladder up from us “legacy fans” and the rest of the football pyramid.

“Admittedly, it wouldn’t sit right with me if managers, players and fans were caught in the crossfire of punishment, and as a West Ham supporter, the idea of my club clinching Champions League football based solely on the ‘Super Six’ getting docked points goes against the very facet of the game we were trying to protect: fair competition. Remember Leeds’ pre-Liverpool shirt slogan, ‘Earn It’?

“It would be a dream come true to get into Europe, but I want West Ham there on merit, not because some spineless billionaire wanted a bigger slice of the pie. That said, nobody gave a second thought to the fans when the likes of Bury and Sheffield Wednesday were made to pay for boardroom incompetence, and that rule should apply across the football landscape, not just the lower leagues.”

You can read more of Ben’s work for Squawka here

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Dave Azzopardi (Talking Wolves)

“I think the ESL clubs should definitely be penalised. They have completely disrespected the rest of the English football pyramid and it’s purely a money-driven decision from the club’s owners. I think Uefa should punish them and ban them from at least one season of the Champions League/Europa League or a heavy fine for those teams who miss out on qualifying altogether. The FA should also give them a heavy fine with a large proportion of that money being distributed to other clubs.”

You can follow Dave on Twitter at @daveazzopardi