IT’S ON – Man Utd, Chelsea, Barca and R. Madrid amongst 12 clubs confirming European Super League

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12 teams announce the formation of a midweek competition, the ’Super League.’
12 teams announce the formation of a midweek competition, the ’Super League.’

Europe’s biggest clubs have officially announced their intention to establish a ‘European Super League’.

Premier League clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham have joined.

Spanish clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Italian clubs AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus will round out the competition.

The clubs all released a statement late on Sunday announcing the European Super League agreement as well as the competition’s format.

The statement read: “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new midweek 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.

“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. In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions.

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“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.”

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.”

Why now?

There were talks in October over a new £4.6bn competition that would involve replacing the Champions League.

Uefa had hoped the plans for a new 36-team Champions League would head off the formation of a Super League. The Champions League reforms are set to be confirmed on Monday.

However, the 12 sides involved in the Super League do not think the reforms go far enough.

They said the global pandemic has “accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model”.

“In recent months, extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions,” they added.

“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.”

COMPETITION FORMAT

• 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.

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• 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.

What do the Super League leaders say?

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is the first chairman of the ESL and says “we will help football at every level”.

“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,” he added.

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli has resigned from the Uefa executive committee and as chairman of the European Club Association, which had pushed the planned Champions League reforms.

He said the 12 clubs had “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”.

Agnelli believes that the new competition will give “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”.

Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer will be a vice-chairman of the Super League.

He 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.”

What has been the reaction?

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Essentially, widespread condemnation from anyone not involved in the proposed league.

That opposition has even gone to the highest level in some countries, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the plans will be “very damaging for football” and that the UK government supports the sport’s authorities “in taking action”.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron added that he “welcomes the position of French clubs to refuse to participate” in a European Super League “that threatens the principle of solidarity and sporting merit”.

Within the game, Uefa released a joint statement with England’s Football Association, the Premier League, the Spanish Football Federation, La Liga and the Italian Football Federation, as well as Serie A, saying they will “remain united” in trying to stop the breakaway, using both judicial and sporting measures if required.

The European Club Association, which represents Europe’s clubs, also says it would be “strongly opposed” to a “closed super league model”, while the Football Supporters’ Association said the plans were “motivated by nothing but cynical greed”.

Television pundits have also had their say, with former Manchester United captain Gary Neville saying on Sky Sports he is “absolutely disgusted” by the plans and suggesting the clubs should be docked points, while former team-mate Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport that the proposals will hurt fans the most and that supporters are “not being considered”.

Bundesliga sides are opposed to the plans because the German model means commercial investors cannot have more than a 49% stake in clubs, so fans hold a majority of their own voting rights.

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