Six of English football’s biggest clubs have confirmed the bombshell news they want to join a new European Super League.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man United and Tottenham – also known as the ‘big six’ – are among 12 founding members of the breakaway competition which would bring about the biggest changes to the game in a generation.
The Premier League clubs will be joined as founders of the Super League by AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.
A further three clubs are expected to join as founders, with the ESL planned to begin “as soon as practicable”.
It will take place in mid-week, with teams continuing to compete in their respective national leagues.
The 15 founding members will be guaranteed entry each year – regardless of how they perform domestically – with a further five teams qualifying annually based on achievements in the prior season.
The move has sparked fury from UEFA – who are set to announce a new Champions League format on Monday – and drawn condemnation from the Premier League, Football Association and even the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
A statement from the European Super League (ESL) 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, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Real Madrid 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.
“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.”
It added the 12 clubs would now seek to work with UEFA and world governing body FIFA to “deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole”.
The ESL statement continued: “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 10billion euros during the course of the initial commitment period of the clubs.”
Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid, has been named as its chairman.
Perez 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.”
Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United, is to be a vice-chairman of the new competition.
Glazer 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 new competition will rival the Champions League and the English sides have now ended their membership of the European Club Association (ECA).
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli has resigned as ECA chairman and left his role as part of the UEFA Executive Committee in order to take a senior position within the new Super League.
The ECA represent the interests of more than 200 football clubs and is the only body which is officially recognised by UEFA. The governing body has reacted angrily to this breakaway.
It has warned players involved would be banned from all other competitions at domestic, European or world level and may be prevented from representing their national teams too.
FIFA, meanwhile, has expressed its “disapproval” of the ESL and has called on “all parties involved in heated discussions to engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue for the good of the game”.
The Premier League said it “condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid”.
It added: “Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best.
“We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.”
How the European Super League will work
It will be a new European competition between 20 top clubs
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as the inital 12 founders
Three more founding clubs will join while a further five teams will qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season
Games will be played in midweek and all clubs will remain in their domestic leagues
There will be two groups of 10 clubs each, playing home and away fixtures within the group each year
The top three in each group will automatically qualify 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 then be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also criticised the proposals.
In a statement posted on Twitter as reports emerged of the breakaway league, he wrote: “Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.
“They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country.
“The clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps.”
The news has led to a huge backlash from fans with Gary Neville summing up the mood of many as the Manchester United legend and popular pundit slammed the plans as an ‘absolute joke’ and called for the Premier League’s big six to be severely punished for their plotting.
“It’s an absolute disgrace. Honestly, we have to wrestle back the power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league and that includes my club,” he raged.
“I’ve been calling for 12 months as part of an independent regulator to bring checks and balances in place to stop this from happening. It’s been pure greed. They’re imposters.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfX0%3D&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1383830097388478464&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Ftalksport.com%2Ffootball%2F867645%2Feuropean-super-league-confirmed-arsenal-man-city-liverpool-man-united-tottenham-chelsea%2F&sessionId=5ba35b2a0676d3a5ffa7ad2401dacc8989635355&siteScreenName=talkSPORT&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ff2e7cf%3A1618526400629&width=550px
“The owners of this club, the owners of Liverpool, the owners of Chelsea, the owners of Manchester City. They are nothing to do with football in this country.
“There are 100 odd years of history in this country from fans who have loved these clubs and they need protecting, the fans need protecting.
“I’ve benefitted from football hugely, I’ve made money out of football, I invest money to a football club. I’m not against money in football, but the principles and ethos of fair competition are part of the game so if Leicester win the league they go into the Champions League.
“Manchester United aren’t even in the Champions League. Arsenal aren’t in the Champions League, you watched them earlier today and they were a shambles of a football club at the moment.
“Tottenham aren’t in the Champions League and they want a god-given right to be in there? It’s an absolute joke and the time has come now for an independent regulator to stop these clubs having a power base. Enough is enough.
“Dock them points. Put them bottom of the league and take the money off them. You have got to stamp on this.
“It’s criminal. It’s a criminal act against football fans in this country. Make no mistake about it, this is the biggest sport in the world, this is the biggest sport in this country and it’s a criminal act against the fans as simple as that.”
Neville’s former United teammate Ferdinand added: “This is, for me, a war on football. It’s a disgrace, it’s embarrassing and goes against everything football is about.
“It’s a closed shop for these bigwigs and it’s completely and utterly only about one thing and that’s money. The rich getting richer and the others not even being considered.
“How they’ve got the audacity to do it in the climate we’re in at the moment… the pandemic around the world. People are struggling all over the world, and this lot…colluding with this idea that they’ve hatched – and to break it like this.
“The element of being anti-competitive goes against everything football is about. It screams (that) these people have no idea what football’s about. It’s purely a business transaction. The people who make this game special are not being considered.”
Legendary former United manager Ferguson, meanwhile, also hit out at the proposals.
‘Talk of a Super League is a move away from 70 years of European club football,” he said.
“Both as a player for a provincial team Dunfermline in the 60s and as a manager at Aberdeen winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup, for a small provincial club in Scotland it was like climbing Mount Everest.
“Everton are spending £500 million to build a new stadium with the ambition to play in Champions League. Fans all over love the competition as it is.
“In my time at United, we played in four Champions League finals and they were always the most special of nights.”