Earlier this week, many football fans condemned plans for the so-called Big Six of the English Premier League to break away and form a European Super League with other teams from around the continent.
While fan groups have suggested the move would represent “the death of everything that football should be about”, Boris Johnson also said he thinks the Super League would be “very damaging for football”.
On Monday night, football fan and West Ham supporter James opened The Late, Late Show with a speech voicing his thoughts on the matter.
After joking that most of his US viewers “don’t care” about the subject, James said he felt so strongly about the “monumental” plans that he felt the need to speak out.
“Without boring those of you that don’t care… the truth is, that this whole thing, making this move, these teams, these owners are killing, they will kill hundreds of other football teams that compete with them, and have competed with them many times over the years,” he said.
“[They are] disregarding the fanbases of those teams, and disregarding the fanbase of their own teams who are devastated about these too. Because these aren’t small teams… these are the biggest teams in the world, and this decision is monumental.”
He continued: “I’m heartbroken by it, genuinely heartbroken by it. I’m heartbroken because the owners of these teams have displayed the worst kind of greed I’ve ever seen in sport.
“Many football teams in Britain are over 100 years old, and these teams were started by working-class people, dock workers, builders… they were built by and for the communities that they play in. They’re not franchises, right?
“But these new billionaire owners have over the past 10, 12, 15 years, have been buying up all the top teams and slowly but surely they’ve moved them away from the communities and foundations on which they were built.
“And it’s always niggled at the back of fans’ minds, whether these owners truly understood what it meant to be part of their club, to be part of its history, and if they could be true and honourable custodians of their futures, I guess. And yesterday, the realisation basically hit every football fan hard.”
To help viewers wrap their minds around the issue, he compared the Super League – which would allow its founder members access on an historical basis rather than merit – to an imagined scenario where A-list actresses Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Saoirse Ronan and Viola Davis carve up Academy Award nominations for themselves.
“I don’t want to be overdramatic but I do think it’s the end of the sport that we love. It truly is. I think it’s going to happen and I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it,” he added.
“Don’t ever forget that it was them, those owners. They took something so pure and so beautiful and they beat the love and the joy out of it and they did it for money. They just did it for money. And it’s disgusting.”
Among the UK teams who’ve signed up for the Super League plans are Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
The Super League said it would eventually aim to secure 15 founding members, which also include Real Madrid, Real. AC Milan and Barcelona.
UK football legends like Gary Lineker and Ian Wright have also spoken out to voice their disapproval of the plans, with the latter branding them “absolutely shameful”.