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Ministers are urgently seeking advice on how to stop top football clubs joining Super League

Ministers are urgently seeking advice on how they might prevent top English football clubs joining the new European Super League, sources have confirmed.

The possible rupture has provoked condemnation from across the political spectrum, with both Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson accusing the participating clubs of letting down fans.

It is understood government efforts on a fan-led review of football governance, a 2019 manifesto pledge, will now ramp up – with the nominated chair and terms of reference set out in the coming weeks, and engagement with fan groups made a top priority.

But according to government sources, the options available for direct intervention to prevent a split are likely to be limited, meaning much could depend on how much indirect pressure can be applied on the clubs.

In a statement, Boris Johnson indicated he would be willing to throw his support behind action threatened by the FA, UEFA and FIFA that could see players involved in the new Super League prevented from taking part in international tournaments.

Meanwhile, the culture secretary appeared to raise the question of whether the breakaway league could fall foul of competition law.

“We are concerned that this plan could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game,” Oliver Dowden said.

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Another option understood to be being looked at in Whitehall is whether some of the organisational support that is provided by public services around games, such as policing and traffic management, could be withdrawn for clubs who choose to join the new league.

Ministers are also privately hoping the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, chaired by Conservative MP Julian Knight, could move swiftly to launch an inquiry and summon club bosses to face a grilling in parliament.