Leeds players wear Super League protest shirts before Liverpool clash

Soccer Football - Premier League - Leeds United v Liverpool - Elland Road, Leeds, Britain - April 19, 2021 Liverpool's Diogo Jota in action with Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips Pool via REUTERS/Clive Brunskill

LEEDS (Reuters) - The three points on offer for Liverpool's Premier League clash at Leeds United became something of a sideshow on Monday with the game paling into insignificance compared to the seismic events engulfing football.

Liverpool confirmed on Sunday they were one of six Premier League clubs to become part of a breakaway Super League -- a move that has been widely condemned and which looks set to provoke a bitter battle for power.

Before kickoff at Elland Road a plane flew overhead trailing a banner saying "say no to superleague" while the Liverpool team coach was greeted with fans venting their anger.

Leeds players came out for their warm-up wearing shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Earn It" under the Champions League logo -- a reference to the fact that the proposed 20-club Super League will have 15 permanent members with no relegation.

Earlier in the day Liverpool's supporters group Spirit of Shankly (SOS) said it was taking down all of its banners which have adorned Anfield during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We, along with other groups involved in flags, will be removing our flags from The Kop," an SOS statement said.

"We feel we can no longer give our support to a club which puts financial greed above integrity of the game."

American-owned Liverpool are joined by Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur as founders of the Super League, along with AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Supporters' clubs of all six Premier League clubs have come out in opposition to the Super League which would be a direct rival to UEFA's Champions League -- the competition Liverpool won for the sixth time in 2019.

Asked for his thoughts on the Leeds United tee-shirts, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp offered a spiky response.

"I have heard already there are warm-up shirts or whatever," the German said. "We will not wear them because we cannot but if somebody thinks he has to remind us that you have to earn (the right) to go to the Champions League, that's a joke.

"That's a real joke and it makes me angry. So if they put it in our dressing room, if it was a Leeds idea, thank you very much. Nobody has to remind us. They should remind themselves."

While no fans are allowed into Elland Road, a large banner draped across the seats read: "Earn It On The Pitch. Football Is For The Fans."

Some fans gathered outside Elland Road to voice their anger, with one banner reading: "RIP LFC. Thanks for the Memories."

The game itself is crucial for Liverpool's hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

They are in sixth place and a victory would see them leapfrog into fourth spot, above Chelsea and West Ham United.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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