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 left the organisation
- La Liga condemns elitist breakaway which threatens rest of Spanish sport
- PL CEO Richard Masters to host meeting with non-‘Big Six’ clubs on Tuesday
- UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin furious over ESL plans
- DCMS secretary Oliver Dowden to launch review into football governance
“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.
All six Premier League clubs have declined Sky Sports News’ invitation to respond to the story.
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.
Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says they have had no involvement in the plans and believes the competition would not solve the clubs’ financial problems.
He said in a statement on Monday: “We are convinced that the current structure in football guarantees a reliable foundation.
“FC Bayern welcomes the reforms of the Champions League because we believe they are the right step to take for the development of European football. The modified group stage will contribute to an increase in excitement and the emotional experience in the competition.
“I do not believe the Super League will solve the financial problems of European clubs that have arisen as result of the coronavirus pandemic. Rather, all clubs in Europe should work in solidarity to ensure that the cost structure, especially players’ salaries and agents’ fees, are brought in line with revenues, to make all of European football more rational.”
Borussia Dortmund chief executive, Hans-Joachim Watzke, says they 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.”
European Super League – Financial details
- Founding Clubs have signed a 23-year commitment to the new Super League
- Legal advice to clubs is that it would be a breach of EU and UK competition law to deny a new entrant into the market
- Clubs believe signing off at least €10BN in Solidarity Payments demonstrates their commitment to the wider game
- Solidarity figure is higher than current distribution from UEFA and will equate to approximately 8% of their proposed revenue
- Share of €3.5BN for each Founding Club cannot be spent on new signings and must only be used to support infrastructure plans and offset COVID-19 impact
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 came on the eve of plans to introduce a new programme for the Champions League.
UEFA has announced a new format for the competition post-2024, which includes no more groups and all teams in one ranking. Every team will play 10 different opponents, home and away.
Ceferin has said it is still unclear whether the proposed breakaway clubs will be involved in the remainder of this season’s Champions League and Europa League. He says a legal assessment is ongoing and further talks will be held on Tuesday after the UEFA Congress.
European football’s governing body have also delayed making an announcement on host cities for Euro 2020 until Friday, in the wake of the fallout caused by the ESL statement that was released on Sunday.
Podcast special: European Super League explanation, reaction and ramifications
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”.
Now, more than ever, we must protect the entire football community – from the top level to the grassroots – and the values of competition and fairness at its core.
I share the concerns of fans about the proposed Super League and the damage it risks causing to the game we love. W
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) April 19, 2021
Prince William, who is the current FA president, tweeted his displeasure towards the breakaway plans.
“Now, more than ever, we must protect the entire football community – from the top level to the grassroots – and the values of competition and fairness at its core,” he wrote.
“I share the concerns of fans about the proposed Super League and the damage it risks causing to the game we love. W.”
Politicians have also voiced their opposition to the proposals.
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.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the House of Commons: “We will not stand by and watch football be cravenly stripped of the things that make millions across the country love it.”
Dowden confirmed he had met with the Premier League and the FA to consider a “wide range of sanctions”, and added that a ‘Fan-led review’ will be launched immediately.
The review will examine football governance, financial sustainability in the men’s and women’s game, and the merit of an independent regulator regarding club ownership in English football.
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
UEFA: ESL plans ‘spit in the face of all football lovers’
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”.
The European Super League – What we know now and what we still don’t know
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?
Neville: Deduct points off the six Premier League clubs
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.”