Premier League fans are buying tickets for Basingstoke Town Community Football Club in protest after an announcement shocked the sporting community last night.

In a statement published on Sunday evening, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham announced that they would be breaking away from English football and that they were founding members of a new, European Super League.

It will give them, plus the other six teams from Spain and Italy, guaranteed entry to the league, along with three other yet-to-be-announced teams, which will be played in midweek and is due to start in August.

But football fans and officials reacted in anger yesterday, with UEFA, the governing body of European football, threatening to ban the clubs and players involved from domestic and continental competitions, as well as from representing their country in international football.

Investment banking behemoth JP Morgan, whose decamped employees from Canary Wharf have been working in Basingstoke since the start of the pandemic, has confirmed it is bankrolling the breakaway Super League.

The news has seen some fans of the 'big six' clubs pledge to abandon their clubs and support their local teams instead, including Basingstoke Town FC.

The club's chairman, Kevin White, labelled the plans announced late last night as "absolutely horrendous".

"It is a bunch of clubs that don't know our football," he told The Gazette. "It is being peddled by the owners, there are a few Americans, and Russian, I think there is only one British club owner.

Kevin White

Kevin White

"It is just money-fuelled and absolute greed and what it is going to do is push people away from the Premier League and from people watching football that has already been decimated a bit by things like [Video Assistant Referee]."

There is concern that the move will cause clubs in the lower leagues and non league, already in financial trouble because of the Covid pandemic and playing behind closed doors, into further financial ruin.

The big six contribute millions in payments that is redistributing down the football pyramid, and eventually is spent on community facilities that help keep people active and provide social opportunities.

Whilst agreeing with this, Mr White said that the breakaway could indirectly have a positive effect, as fans abandon their club and support their local team instead.

"It is going to drive supporters to go and watch their local teams so I think it is good from that point of view for grassroots football and local football clubs like Basingstoke and Hartley Wintney and other clubs, however, the money that is taking out of the Premier League by those so called big six clubs won't flow down."

However, the super league says that the tournament will "provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment to uncapped solidarity payments".

And the news has already prompted one Basingstoke grassroots youth club to question its ties with one of the big six.

One coach from Hatch Warren Phoenix Flames, a Chelsea Foundation Club, has requested the youth football set up terminate their relationship.

Jack Cousens, a coach of the Under 7s side, said in the email, seen by The Gazette, that he feels it is "incumbent upon us as fans of the game and those volunteering at the coalface of grassroots football to show our opposition to such a move".

He said that if the club desired a similar relationship with another club, they could seek it from more local teams such as Reading or Southampton.

Jack Cousens is a coach for Hatch Warren Phoenix Flames Under 7s. Photo: Daren Bavister

Jack Cousens is a coach for Hatch Warren Phoenix Flames Under 7s. Photo: Daren Bavister

Mr Cousens told The Gazette: "Children who dream of playing for a big club like those 'big 6' all start with volunteer coaches on local playing fields.

"Despite their words about 'continuing their support for grassroots' this move does anything but support grassroots football.

"Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and others made it very clear yesterday how this action is being viewed and I 100% agree with them. I believe the fans of these clubs will respond negatively and I hope they change tack.

"But for me, the damage is already done - they have signalled their intent on cash and it’s why the whole game needs looked at."