The chairman of Italian football giants Juventus – one of the clubs who attempted a breakaway European Super League – has suggested Boris Johnson was so opposed to the plan because it was viewed as “an attack to Brexit”.
It follows the decision by six English clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – to withdraw from the plan.
Spanish side Atletico Madrid and Italian rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan have also abandoned the scheme.
The project turned into a humiliating spectacle for the clubs involved, with their plans collapsing within 48 hours of them first being announced amid a furious backlash from fans and politicians across Europe.
Mr Johnson had vowed to explore “every possibility” to stop the “very damaging” European Super League, as he mulled what new or existing laws could be used to put a halt to the plans.
And Mr Agnelli suggested the UK government’s intervention had pushed the six English clubs to withdraw.
“I have had speculation to that extent that if six teams would have broken away and would have threatened the EPL (Premier League), politics would have seen that as an attack to Brexit and their political scheme,” he told Reuters.
However, Mr Agnelli added he remained “convinced of the beauty of that project”, despite the likelihood it would no longer proceed.
Asked about the Juventus chairman’s comments, Downing Street dismissed the suggestion that Mr Johnson’s opposition to the European Super League was linked to Brexit.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “I would reject that.
“The prime minister was very clear on why it was right for the government to step in and take action that contributed to these clubs stepping back from this proposal, which was the importance of football at the heart of communities up and down the country.”
Speaking in the House of Commons earlier on Wednesday, Mr Johnson had told MPs that “one of the most worrying features about the European Super League proposals is that they would have taken clubs that take their names from great, famous British towns and cities, English towns and cities”.
He added the new competition would have turned English clubs “just into global brands with no relation to the fans, to the communities that gave them life and that give them the most love and support”.
He promised that a “root and branch investigation into the governance of football” – to be conducted by former sports minister Tracey Crouch – would look at “what we can do to promote the role of fans in that governance”.
Conservative MP Saqib Bhatti has asked Mr Johnson to ensure that “football clubs must put fans at the heart of their decision-making”.