Twelve of Europe’s top clubs announced on Sunday they were launching a breakaway Super League, headed by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs, the statements added.
Madrid president 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.”
As part of the move, the clubs included would withdraw from the European Club Association and games would be played in the middle of the week, with the Super League governed by the founding clubs, the club statements indicated.
The agreement provides that the founding clubs will receive an upfront net grant of approximately €3.5 billion ($4.19 billion) in aggregate, the statements said. A women’s Super League competition is also planned to be launched after the men’s league is up and running.
“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,” said Joel Glazer, co-owner of Manchester United and vice chairman of the Super League.
If the initiative is successful, which has already been rebuked by FIFA and numerous FAs throughout Europe, it would threaten the existence of the Champions League — football’s biggest club competition — with UEFA due to announce on Monday a new 36-team format for the tournament designed to stave off attempts by the game’s top clubs to break away.
The format of the competition would be two groups of 10 playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group qualifying for the quarterfinals. A playoff involving fourth- and fifth-placed teams will complete the final eight.
No German or French clubs have yet to be associated with the breakaway.
FIFA said on Sunday it disapproved of the breakaway competition called the European Super League, as it was outside of international football structures.
“Against this background, FIFA can only express its disapproval to a ‘closed European breakaway league’ outside of the international football structures,” a statement from football’s world governing body read.
ESPN has been told by a person familiar with the blueprint that the proposed framework involves a total of 20 teams, with 15 permanent members who cannot be relegated.
Sources have told ESPN that New York-based investment bank JP Morgan will underwrite the project, with $6 billion distributed as loans to the teams.
UEFA criticised the plans in a statement and said: “UEFA, the English Football Association and the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and La Liga, and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A have learned that a few English, Spanish and Italian clubs may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League.
“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we — UEFA, the English FA, RFEF, FIGC, the Premier League, La Liga, Lega Serie A, but also FIFA and all our member associations — will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.
“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.
“As previously announced by FIFA and the six Federations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.
“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”
Planned to come into force in 2024, the remodelled Champions League would involve 36 teams playing 10 group games rather than six. The biggest clubs also would receive an increased share of prize money.