An Arsenal fan who has been going to matches for 55 years is among the supporters from so-called ‘big six’ clubs threatening to cancel season tickets over plans to form a European Super League.
The Gunners were one of six English clubs – along with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea – named as founder members of the new competition in plans released on Sunday.
The concept has been poorly received by many fans, including Arsenal supporter Gary Lawrence, 64, who began attending matches at the old Highbury stadium in 1966 and has been a season ticket holder since 1976.
He told the PA news agency: “My son’s a season ticket holder as well, as is my brother and my nephews, and all of us are going to give up our season tickets.
“If they form this farcical European Super League we won’t be watching them at all – I won’t even watch them on the telly any more.”
Mr Lawrence, a black cab driver from Basildon, said that, because of long waiting lists at the Emirates, he knows he will “never get it back again” if he gives up his season ticket.
But he said he “can’t support” the club if the move goes ahead because it is “not fair on the rest of football”.
He blamed club owners, saying: “I’m so disillusioned with it.
“These six billionaires are completely destroying the fabric of football in this country over their sheer greed, and it sickens me.”
Mr Lawrence said he will likely switch to supporting a smaller club, such as Leyton Orient, should the Super League go ahead – but he described the decision to turn his back on Arsenal as “massive”.
“It’s such a big part of my life,” he said. “I go to every home game and have done for decades.
“It feels like a big void in my life now this is going to happen.”
Pierce Robinson, a gardener from Tunbridge Wells, said Arsenal fans are “just not respected by our club at all”.
He told PA: “The club doesn’t care about us whatsoever and this just highlights it and shows it even more.
“Arsenal, this season especially, have been harping on about how we’re a family club, we look after each other. Well, no you don’t – you don’t give a toss about any of us.”
Mr Robinson, 26, has been an Arsenal fan all his life but has now decided not to renew his season ticket, which has been handed down through his family via his grandad and uncle.
He says he has no desire to watch Arsenal play in a so-called Super League.
He said: “I’d rather be fighting a relegation battle with Fulham and Newcastle and teams like that, and actually have a reason to be excited, rather than just turn up and be like, ‘oh great, I’m watching, Ronaldo and Messi’, but we’re also conceding six every week.”
Matt, a lifelong Manchester United fan, said he will not be renewing his membership at the club because of the news about the new competition.
He said he believes it is “all about the money”.
“They talk about these magical nights against the best in Europe, but they don’t care,” he told PA. “They don’t care at all.
“They only care about the money.”
The 25-year-old added: “If you have a closed group with the same 15 plus five lucky ticket winners, it’s not going to have the same atmosphere, the same meaning to it.
“I’d still rather watch the Premier League without United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal et cetera than a Super League playing the same teams.”
David Vestik, a Liverpool fan from Stavanger in Norway, described the plan as a “betrayal of sports”.
As an overseas supporter, he rubbished the idea of so-called “fans of the future”, those who are not necessarily based in England, and who are more interested in seeing big names than in the competition itself.
Mr Vestik, who said he cancelled his membership on Monday, told PA: “The big thing about it is that it has consequences – like just now, we might not come into the Champions League.
“Sport without consequences is not competition anymore.”
He said the decision was particularly disappointing coming from Liverpool, who have traditionally had strong links to the fans and the community, and have been associated with the motto “this means more”.
“‘This means more, community club’ – that doesn’t mean anything,” he said.
“They don’t care, the owners – they don’t care at all. They just care about money.
“It doesn’t mean anything any more.”