The Premier League will meet on Tuesday without Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham who have agreed to join a breakaway European Super League.
A virtual meeting, chaired by Premier League CEO Richard Masters, will be attended by the 14 clubs who are not involved in the newly-announced League.
A statement on Sunday indicated that six Premier League clubs will be joined in the League by AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, and Real Madrid. Three more clubs could join for the inaugural season which will commence “as soon as practicable”.
The new format has been put forward as a rival to the UEFA Champions League, not as a replacement to domestic leagues, but there are fears it could have wider ramifications.
UEFA, in a joint statement with FA, Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A, blasted the plans and did not rule out taking legal action over the proposals, insisting players involved would be banned from all other competitions at domestic, European or world level and could be prevented from representing their national teams.
Aleksander Ceferin, the president of European football’s governing body, has slammed the ESL concept and the 12 sides involved, strongly condemning the “disgraceful” proposals for a new European Super League as a “spit in the face of all football lovers”.
FIFA and the European Club Association (ECA) have also criticised the creation of a breakaway competition.
A statement from the European Super League read: “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its Founding Clubs.
“AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid CF and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as Founding Clubs. It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.
European Super League – latest developments
- PM Boris Johnson says “we’ll do everything we can to make sure Super League does not go ahead”
- Man Utd, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan leave ECA
- Man Utd executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward leaves UEFA roles
- Juve chairman steps down as ECA chairman
- American investment bank JP Morgan confirms it will finance competition
- Supporters’ groups continue to speak out against plans
- ECA board member tells SSN the 12 clubs have “totally blindsided” the rest of European football
- La Liga condemns elitist breakaway which threatens rest of Spanish sport
- DCMS Committee to hold private session on matter on Tuesday
“Going forward, the Founding Clubs look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole.
“The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model.
“Further, for a number of years, the Founding Clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis.
“The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid.
Leading European football clubs announce new Super League competition.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 18, 2021
“In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions. The Founding Clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.”
American investment bank JP Morgan has announced it will be financing the competition.
Sky Sports News has contacted the six Premier League clubs for comment; Manchester United and Tottenham declined to give a response regarding the proposals.
Manchester United have stood down from the European Club Association (ECA), which represents all 246 European clubs. It is the sole such body recognised by UEFA, and has member clubs in each UEFA member association.
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has also stepped down from his UEFA roles. Serie A clubs Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan have also left the ECA.
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli has also resigned as ECA chairman, a position he held since 2012, and left his post as member of the UEFA Executive Committee to take up the Super League vice-president role.
Borussia Dortmund chief executive, Hans-Joachim Watzke, says they and Bayern Munich vehemently reject all involvement in the plans for a breakaway league and are instead focused on reforming the Champions League.
The German Football Association backed the stance held by the national associations from England, Italy and Spain.
- 20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
- Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.
- An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals.
- Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.
“As soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition, a corresponding women’s league will also be launched, helping to advance and develop the women’s game.
“The new annual tournament will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment to uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues.
“These solidarity payments will be substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition and are expected to be in excess of €10 billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the Clubs. In addition, the competition will be built on a sustainable financial foundation with all Founding Clubs signing up to a spending framework.
“In exchange for their commitment, Founding Clubs will receive an amount of €3.5 billion solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic.”
Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid and the first chairman of the Super League said: “We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires.”
Backing the new European league, Agnelli, chairman of Juventus and vice-chairman of the Super League said: “Our 12 Founder Clubs represent billions of fans across the globe and 99 European trophies.
“We have come together at this critical moment, enabling European competition to be transformed, putting the game we love on a sustainable footing for the long-term future, substantially increasing solidarity, and giving fans and amateur players a regular flow of headline fixtures that will feed their passion for the game while providing them with engaging role models.”
Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United and vice-chairman of the Super League said: “By bringing together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid.”
The agreement comes on the eve of plans to introduce a new format for the Champions League. UEFA has put forward changes to increase the number of competing teams in Europe’s top club knockout competition from 32 to 36 with the number of games rising from 125 to 225 matches.
In a special podcast, Jasper Taylor sums up a seismic 24 hours in football after Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham agreed to join a breakaway European Super League, along with six other teams.
The reaction has been swift, damning, passionate and emotional to say the least. Hear from Gary Neville, Kaveh Solhekol, Bryan Swanson and more….
What has the reaction been to the proposed breakaway?
The proposed European Super League has, away from the clubs involved, been strongly condemned across football and beyond.
In a blistering response, UEFA released a joint statement, personally sanctioned by the governing body’s president Aleksander Ceferin, with the FA, Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A, as well as the Spanish and Italian football federations, which blasted the plans.
UEFA stressed that Europe’s top national football governing bodies and leagues will remain united in opposing the “cynical” initiative, and will use all methods available to them, including legal action, to prevent the scheme from being put into practice.
The FA has not ruled out taking legal action over the proposals and the governing body has indicated that it will block any requests from teams to join such a league.
The Premier League, and the organisation’s CEO Richard Masters, have condemned the concept, and Masters has written to all 20 clubs to indicate the League’s opposition to the project.
“We do not and cannot support such a concept,” Masters’ memo read. “This venture cannot be launched without English clubs and we call upon any club contemplating associating themselves or joining this venture to walk away immediately before irreparable damage is done”.
Under Premier League rules, which all clubs sign up to, a club needs “prior written approval” from the Premier League Board to enter another competition not including the Champions League, Europa League, EFL Cup, FA Cup, Community Shield, or competitions sanctioned by the county association of which it is a member.
FIFA has also criticised the creation of a new breakaway League, stating that the move is not in accordance with the governing body’s values, declaring: “In our view, and in accordance with our statutes, any football competition, whether national, regional or global, should always reflect the core principles of solidarity, inclusivity, integrity and equitable financial redistribution.”
La Liga said it “strongly condemns the recently published proposal for a breakaway, elitist European competition that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid”.
A statement from the European Club Association said it “strongly opposed” the “closed Super League model”.
Politicians have also voiced their opposition to the plans.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the breakaway League would be “very damaging for football” and vowed to do what he can for the proposals to not go through in their current format.
“We are going to look at everything that we can do with the football authorities to make sure that this doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed.
“I don’t think that it’s good news for fans, I don’t think it’s good news for football in this country.
“These clubs are not just great global brands – of course they’re great global brands – they’re also clubs that have originated historically from their towns, from their cities, from their local communities, they should have a link with those fans, and with the fan base in their community.
“So it is very, very important that that continues to be the case. I don’t like the look of these proposals, and we’ll be consulted about what we can do”
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has said it “risks shutting the door on fans for good”.
And the EU Parliament Sports Group – which represents 125 MEPs – has criticised the proposed League, saying that the proposals have “no other purpose than making profit”.
Department for Culture, Media and Sport Committee Chair Julian Knight described it as a “dark day for football” and called for a fan-led review with the “interests of community clubs at the heart” of future plans. The DCMS Committee will discuss the issue in a private session on Tuesday.
Football supporters are the heartbeat of our national sport and any major decisions made should have their backing. (1/3)
— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) April 18, 2021
Ceferin, speaking at a media briefing after Monday morning’s UEFA Executive Committee meeting, thanked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his support in opposing the plans, which he has branded “nonsense”.
When asked if the proposals would stop any players from competing in Euro 2020, Ceferin said: “We’re still assessing the situation with our legal team. It’s a bit too early.
“We will take all the sanctions that we can and we will inform you as soon as we have a clear answer. My opinion is that, as soon as possible, the players have to be banned from all our competitions.
He added: “I cannot stress more strongly UEFA and the footballing world are united against the disgraceful, self-serving proposals we have seen, fuelled purely by greed.
“It’s a nonsense of a project. This idea is a spit in the face for all footballer lovers and our society. We will not allow them to take this away from us.”
Ceferin said he was “naive, there are snakes close to us” over the Super League proposals.
He strongly criticised Manchester United executive vice-chair Ed Woodward, who has stepped down from his roles with UEFA alongside his club’s withdrawal from the European Club Association.
Ceferin said: “I was a criminal lawyer for 24 years but I’ve never, ever, seen people like that. If I start with Ed Woodward but he called me last Thursday, saying that he’s very satisfied with reforms and he fully supports them. Obviously he already signed something else.”
ECA board member: ‘Deceitfulness of the clubs involved is extraordinary’
An ECA board member has told Sky Sports News the 12 ESL breakaway clubs have “totally blindsided” the rest of European football with Sunday’s announcement.
They say the ECA Board met on Friday and agreed a mandate with UEFA to work together on plans to revamp the Champions League from 2024.
Juventus’ former ECA chairman Agnelli ratified the decision and chaired the meeting, at which Man Utd’s executive vice-chairman Woodward and Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham were both present.
The ECA board are meeting on Monday afternoon and are expected to meet daily to establish how to respond to the crisis.
The board member has said the development is “bizarre – the deceitfulness of the clubs involved is extraordinary, and reputations are no longer intact as a result of this”.
What’s happened? Which clubs are involved? What’s been the reaction? How likely is it? What are the potential ramifications? What would be the format and who is financing it?
Before Sunday night’s official announcement, Super Sunday pundits Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Micah Richards gave their views on the proposed competition.
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
“I’m not against the modernisation of football competitions, we have the Premier League, we have the Champions League. But to bring forward proposals in the midst of COVID, in the midst of the economic crisis that exists for all clubs is an absolute scandal.
“United and the rest of the big six clubs that have signed up to it against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves.
“European Super League? Are Arsenal in that? They have just drawn with Fulham, Manchester United are drawing with Burnley. I cannot concentrate on the game. To sign up to the Super League during a season is a joke, they should deduct points off all six of them.”
Sky Sports’ Roy Keane:
“It comes down to money, greed, it doesn’t sound good. Let’s hope it’s stopped in its tracks because it’s pure greed. We talk about the big clubs, Bayern Munich are one of the biggest in the world, at least they have made a stand, which is a start.”
Sky Sports’ Micah Richards:
“The Premier League has been run amazingly, and clubs are businesses and investments. But what happens to the fans, the memories of what the fans have had over the years? Are they to be forgotten about for the sake of money? That’s what football has become now, it’s an absolute disgrace.”
A new 36-team Champions League format from 2024 is set for final approval by UEFA’s executive committee on Monday.
A decision had initially been expected on March 31 but was delayed due to some clubs within the European Club Association seeking a greater say on commercial matters for the new competition.
However, meetings of the ECA board and of UEFA’s club competitions committee on Friday have cleared the way for the new format to be rubber-stamped. It is understood the differences which led to the first delay have been set aside rather than resolved.
The expanded format is a cause of concern for the Premier League and many other European domestic competitions, while fans’ groups wrote an open letter to ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli criticising it on Friday morning.
European football’s governing body will also make a final decision on host venues for Euro 2020, with Bilbao, Dublin and Munich the three yet to be confirmed of the original 12.
The Champions League executive committee will vote on whether to do away with the current group system – where 32 teams are split into eight pools of four – and replace it with one 36-team league.
Each team plays 10 matches on a seeded basis – four more than in the current group phase – in a so-called ‘Swiss model’, previously described as “ideal” by Agnelli in part because it allows the flexibility to add even more matches in the future.
The new format takes the Champions League from 125 to 225 matches, which would create a huge headache for domestic schedulers. EFL chairman Rick Parry says it would be a “major threat” to the Carabao Cup and the Football Association also wrote to UEFA to express its concerns.
The encroachment of the competition into January – usually kept free for domestic club football – is understood to be another concern for the Premier League.
The league’s top eight would qualify automatically for the last-16 knockout stage, with the teams finishing ninth and 24th playing off for the remaining eight places.
The allocation of two of the extra four places to sides based on previous European performance has also proved controversial.