Barnsley players 'nodding along with everything Gary Neville said' as Valerien Ismael slams super league plan as contrary to football

OPPOSITION: Former Bayern Munich defender Valerien Ismael is opposed to a European super leagueOPPOSITION: Former Bayern Munich defender Valerien Ismael is opposed to a European super league
OPPOSITION: Former Bayern Munich defender Valerien Ismael is opposed to a European super league
Gary Neville's diatribe against the 12 clubs trying to form their own breakaway European super league had Barnsley's players nodding in agreement, says Carlton Morris, after their manager described it as being contrary to football's values.

The owners of AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City and United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have made plans to form their own separate league with eight other clubs which neither they nor three other as-yet unknown clubs they wish to invite could not be relegated from.

Barnsley's players were on the team coach home from Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Coventry City when former Manchester United captain and Salford City co-owner Neville lambasted the “criminal” act. Reds manager Valerien Ismael said he was shocked by the selfish approach of the 12.

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“I'm not as well informed as I'd like to be but I've been trying to keep up with it as much as possible,” said forward Morris.

“I just think if it's going to have a detrimental affect on the football pyramid it should be a quick and concise no.

“The lads were watching Gary Neville on the bus after the Manchester United v Burnley game and nodding along with everything he said.

“From what I know, for it to be stopped at source would be the best thing.”

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Barnsley are a classic example of why a closed shop would be such a bad thing, a small Championship club in contention for their second season of Premier League football. Having gone up equally unexpectedly under Danny Wilson in 1997, they are now in the second-tier play-off positions.

To break away and form a closed shops runs against “the essence of football” according to Frenchman Ismael.

“I was surprised and shocked,” he said.

“It's a business decision without involving anybody else, especially the managers and the players of the club and I feel for them. Now they are getting the frustration.

“Such a decision goes against football's values – togetherness, team spirit and staying close together.

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“To take the decision to go your own way in a pandemic is a bad, bad sign and that's why I'm completely against a super league. We dream of the Champions League, we have the history of it and the clubs. We need some surprises in football. Football is an emotional connection with the history and the success.

“When I heard the president of Real Madrid (Florentino Perez) say it was more attractive for him to see Real Madrid against Manchester United than other teams, I think it was disrespectful. West Ham United and Leicester City have had fantastic seasons so far and are on the way to play in the Champions League and deserve to but for him it's not good enough to play against these opponents. It's disrespectful.

“Football is about history and the chance to see something maybe one time in 10 years like Leicester winning the Premier League. This is what we want to dream about, we want to have this dream.

“A super league is artificial, it's only business, not the reality of football.

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“A selfish mentality is not the right way to make a decision.

“Every club is struggling with finances, not only in the football world, and right at that moment important to stay together and not try to go your own way without thinking about all the consequences. Such a decision can affect all the leagues and especially the players and the managers. They are now under more pressure than normal and maybe they are against that decision.”

As well as having played for teams who upset the odds during his career as a centre-back – winning the French cup with Strasbourg and German double with Werder Bremen – he also played for Bayern Munich.

The European champions have taken great credit for refusing to join the league, along with their Bundesliga colleagues. Some have said it is because of the league's model that clubs must be majority owned by fans, but Ismael, who works for a foreign-owned club at Oakwell, thinks this is overplayed.

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“It's not a problem if you have an owner who comes from America or somewhere else, you have to be open,” he said. “You (just) need someone who loves football and thinks (about) football and not business.

“We've lost the essence of football with this selfish mentality. Football is not only money, it's a love for the competition, the emotionally connection. You win a game, you lose a game, you go up, you go down, you win the league, you qualify for the Champions League, this is the real essence of football.”

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