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English football’s Big Six to declare plan to join European Super League TONIGHT


Proposals for a breakaway European Super League involving the Big Six Premier League clubs were announced on Sunday night in a move which is set to have huge ramifications on the future of the domestic and European game.

Having signed statements of intent to join the league, with Manchester City the last to agree, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal along with Pep Guardiola’s side are among a group of teams that have agreed to form a new competition which will spell the end of competition in football as we know it.

The Super League said in a statement released on Sunday night: ‘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.

Chelsea have joined United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Man City in declaring intent

Manchester United and Chelsea are among a group of six Premier League teams to announce on Sunday night their intent to join a breakaway European Super League

UEFA’s Champions League is under serious threat of a breakaway league of the top teams

‘AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juvetus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, 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.’

UEFA were strong in response, announcing that every club and player that takes part in the Super League will be banned from all competitions at both European and  international level – and extends to international level and competitions including the European Championship. 

They had earlier said in another statement that they will take legal action if the ‘cynical project’ for a Super League goes ahead. 

The new league represents the American takeover of elite European football, which will become a closed shop run by its founder members. It is bankrolled by US banking giant JP Morgan and is the brainchild of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and the American owners of three leading English clubs. 

It is believed Perez will hold the chairman’s role in the new league’s structure, with Liverpool’s John W. Henry, Joel Glazer of Manchester United and Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke as vice-chairmen. 

Andrea Agnelli, chairman of Juventus, and believed until now to be an ally of UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin will occupy the fourth vice-chairman role.  

Ceferin is understood to be furious at Agnelli’s betrayal, the news of which comes less than 24 hours before UEFA’s own proposals for a revamped Champions League.

The European Club Association, which represents UEFA’s clubs released a statement going against the Super League plans.

In addition they backed continued development on revamping the Champions League, despite their chairman being Juventus chief Agnelli.

SUPER LEAGUE FULL STATEMENT

Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today [Sunday] 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, Manchester City, Manchester United, 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.

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. 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.

• 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 (£10.7bn) 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 (£3bn) solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic. Florentino Pérez, 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, Andrea 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.’

‘In light of today’s reports on the subject of a so-called breakaway league, ECA as the body representing 246 leading clubs across Europe, reiterates its stated commitment to working on developing the UEFA Club Competitions (UCCs) model with UEFA for the cycle beginning 2024 and that a ‘closed super league model’ to which media articles refer would be strongly opposed by ECA.

‘ECA would refer to the position adopted by its Executive Board at its meeting last Friday April 16, namely that it supports a commitment to work with UEFA on a renewed structure for European Club Football as a whole post 2024, including proposed changes to the UEFA Club Competitions post 2024.

‘With ECA’s support, UEFA’s Executive Committee is being asked to endorse these commitments at its meeting on April 19 along with pursing efforts to reach an agreement on the future relationship between ECA and UEFA.

‘The ECA Executive Board will be convening over the coming days to take appropriate decisions in light of any further developments.’

The plan is for the Super League to evolve to roughly 15-18 teams, but the initial 12 signatories to the deal are the six English clubs, plus Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid from Spain, and Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan from Italy. This leaves room for other major clubs, such as Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, to be picked off with UEFA’s own competitions hopelessly devalued. 

PREMIER LEAGUE STATEMENT

The Premier League 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.

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.

The Premier League is proud to run a competitive and compelling football competition that has made it the most widely watched league in the world. Our success has enabled us to make an unrivalled financial contribution to the domestic football pyramid.

A European Super League will undermine the appeal of the whole game, and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs, and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper.

We will work with fans, The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA, as well as other stakeholders, at home and abroad, to defend the integrity and future prospects of English football in the best interests of the game.

Liverpool are among the six English teams to have agreed

Likewise Tottenham are keen on the idea of a breakaway league

Liverpool and Tottenham are among six English teams to have agreed to the new project

Liverpool owner John W Henry will act as one of the European Super League's vice-chairman

Liverpool owner John W Henry will act as one of the European Super League’s vice-chairman

The Premier League are aware of the agreement and have spent the weekend formulating their response. 

In a statement on Sunday, the Premier League condemned proposals that they feel ‘attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit’. 

‘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,’ the statement continued. ‘We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.’ 

Former Manchester United full-back Gary Neville, speaking in commentary during their game against Burnley, called the news an ‘absolute scandal’.

After the match he ripped into the idea describing the idea ‘as pure greed’ and the owners of the English teams as ‘imposters’ with ‘nothing to do with football in this country.

He said: ‘I’m disgusted with Manchester United and Liverpool most. I mean with Liverpool they pretend ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ the people’s club. Manchester United, a 100 years born out of workers around here and they’re breaking away into a league without competition, that they can’t be relegated from? 

‘It’s an absolute disgrace and we have to wrestle back the power in this country from the clubs at the top of the league. It’s pure greed, they’re impostors. The fans need protecting. I benefitted from football hugely, I’ve made money from football and invest money into a club. 

Neville went on to add that the six clubs should be punished and that the owners are ‘disowning their clubs.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville described the plans as an 'absolute disgrace'

Manchester United legend Gary Neville described the plans as an ‘absolute disgrace’

He said: ‘They’ve got no loyalty to this country and these leagues. Enough is enough. There isn’t a football fan in this country that shouldn’t be seething listening to this. This is disowning your own club stuff, this. I mean, seriously? 

‘How could you think to watch a super league when you’ve left the 14 clubs in the Premier League behind you? Your Championship clubs dead. Your EFL clubs dead, the National League, the pyramid system which we’ve fought for 150 years has gone because of six clubs?   

‘It’s absolutely embarrassing and it’s never going to happen. Let them break away but honestly punish them straight away. If they announce a letter of intent has been signed as six clubs they should be punished heavily. 

‘Massive fines, points deductions, takes the titles off them. Give the title to Burnley, let Fulham stay up and relegate Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

‘Yeah Chelsea and City new money in game come forward I’m not happy with them either, Tottenham I’m not that bothered about. Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal they should know better. The history and tradition that runs through those three clubs is absolutely enormous and I value it but they leave a lot to be desired at this moment in time.

‘Liverpool Football Club seriously. I don’t like them, they don’t like me. But I always thought they had integrity. But I always though that they had honesty, integrity, looked after their own. That’s gone forget that. If they sign that letter of intent they’re as bad as the rest of them.’

Sir Alex Ferguson said the proposals would be a move away from '70 years of football history'

Sir Alex Ferguson said the proposals would be a move away from ’70 years of football history’

Manchester United’s legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson meanwhile said it would end ’70 years of football history’. 

‘Talk of a Super League is a move away from 70 years of European club football. 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,’ he told Reuters.

He added: ‘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.

The six clubs are not intending to resign from domestic football, but need Premier League permission to join any new competitions. This could be the first sticking point because the Premier League board is unlikely to grant any request that weakens its own competitive value. 

It does not need to be put to a vote of the 20 clubs, but goes before the Premier League board comprising Gary Hoffman (chair), Richard Masters (chief executive) and Kevin Beeston (non-executive director). 

If they say no to the European Super League, as expected, the clubs will have to be break away from the Premier League entirely in order to join, putting in jeopardy their players’ participation in UEFA and FIFA competitions, such as the World Cup and European Championships.

UEFA STATEMENT IN FULL 

UEFA, the English Football Association and the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and LaLiga, 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, LaLiga, 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.

Manchester City were the last of the six English teams to declare intent for the breakaway

Manchester City were the last of the six English teams to declare intent for the breakaway 

GOVERNMENT STATEMENT

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘Football supporters are the heartbeat of our national sport and any major decisions made should have their backing.

‘With many fans, we are concerned that this plan could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game. Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that undermines this is deeply troubling and damaging for football.

‘We have a football pyramid where funds from the globally successful Premier League flow down the leagues and into local communities. I would be bitterly disappointed to see any action that destroys that.’

Yet the Premier League no longer believe this to be more brinkmanship in the battle for control of Champions League monies and make-up. 

JP Morgan are believed to be debt financing the new league to the tune of £4.6billion, which is set against future broadcast revenue. 

A letter sent to clubs by Premier League chief executive Masters has warned those involved to ‘walk away…before irreparable damage is done’. 

It added that clubs would need Premier League permission to enter a new competition – and Masters wrote ‘I cannot envisage any scenario where such permission would be granted.’

‘Based on our understanding of the proposed European Super League concept it would sit outside the auspices of UEFA and the current European sporting pyramid, offering 15 founding members permanent access from as early as season 2022-23, rather than via the historic access principles of annual sporting merit,’ the letter read.

‘Such a European Super League would be deeply damaging to the European pyramid, and immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper.

‘We do not and cannot support such a concept. Premier League rules contain a commitment amongst clubs to remain within the football pyramid and forbid and clubs from entering competitions beyond those listed in Rule L9, without Premier League Board permission. 

News of English football's Big Six planning to breakaway will be highly damaging for UEFA and their president Aleksander Ceferin (pictured)

News of English football’s Big Six planning to breakaway will be highly damaging for UEFA and their president Aleksander Ceferin (pictured)

PFA statement 

The PFA has substantial concerns regarding the wide-ranging implications of the proposed European Super League concept.

Football should strive to preserve the sanctity of a competitive domestic league above all else. Aspiration and sporting merits are an essential part of any sport and a vital component of the game we love.

This proposed move would detract from the strength and joy of domestic football and diminish the game for the vast majority of fans across the continent.

Clubs across all domestic competitions are not equal, each having differing financial starting points. However, success is never guaranteed, often cyclical and always earned. We have seen countless examples around Europe of teams outperforming their resources. In recent years, at home in the Premier League, this has resulted in unrivalled global entertainment and sporting drama.

A system that rewards all clubs for success is paramount. In England, we are privileged to enjoy the most professional teams, the most professional players and in normal times, the highest aggregate attendances across the world. This success is achieved by working together and in solidarity.

The PFA will work with players, The FA, Premier League, EFL, LMA and through FIFPRO, with other players’ associations, to represent the game’s best interests and protect the integrity of football.

‘I cannot envisage any scenario where such permission would be granted. It is the duty of the Premier League Board to defend the integrity and the prospects of the League as a whole, and we will have no choice but to do everything we can to protect and maintain both.

‘As previously evidenced, we would expect complete condemnation from all parts of the game, fans groups and the UK Government.

‘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.’

There was also a strong response from the UK Government on Sunday evening, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden insisting that fans should have been consulted.

In a statement, he wrote: ‘Football supporters are the heartbeat of our national sport and any major decisions made should have their backing.

‘With many fans, we are concerned that this plan could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game. Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that undermines this is deeply troubling and damaging for football.

‘We have a football pyramid where funds from the globally successful Premier League flow down the leagues and into local communities. I would be bitterly disappointed to see any action that destroys that.’

There was a lot of reaction to the proposals on social media, including from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He tweeted: ‘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.’

Fan groups were quick to come out and join the condemnation of the news that the Big Six are keen to join. 

The Football Supporters’ Association described the European Super League as a project motivated ‘by nothing but cynical greed’. 

‘This competition is being created behind our backs by billionaire club owners who have zero regard for the game’s traditions and continue to treat football as their personal fiefdom,’ the FSA statement read.

‘The FSA, and no doubt supporters across the continent, will continue to fight against its creation.’

FansEurope added in their own statement that the Super League ‘is illegitimate, irresponsible, and anti-competitive by design.’ 

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters wrote a letter to clubs warning them to walk away from European Super League plans before 'irreparable damage is done'

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters wrote a letter to clubs warning them to walk away from European Super League plans before ‘irreparable damage is done’ 

RICHARD MASTERS’ LETTER

Dear Chairman/Chief Executive, 

I am writing to inform you of what we believe to be an imminent announcement of a European Super League concept, potentially involving a number of Premier League Clubs alongside others from Spain and Italy. 

Based on our understanding of the proposed European Super League concept it would sit outside the auspices of UEFA and the current European sporting pyramid, offering 15 founding members permanent access from as early as season 2022/23, rather than via the historic access principles of annual sporting merit. 

The Premier League Board met this morning and I wanted to make clear its position based on the information we have at our disposal. Such a European Super League would be deeply damaging to the European pyramid, the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member Clubs and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper. 

We believe such a concept would be hugely unpopular with football fans across the continent, in particular here in England, where progress via sporting merit is central to the history and traditions of the national game and the rightful aspirations of all Clubs and their fans. We do not and cannot support such a concept. 

Premier League Rules contain a commitment amongst Clubs to remain within the football pyramid and forbid any Clubs from entering competitions beyond those listed in Rule L9, without Premier League Board permission. 

I cannot envisage any scenario where such permission would be granted. It is the duty of the Premier League Board to defend the integrity and future prospects of the League as a whole, and we will have no choice but to do everything we can to protect and maintain both. 

The consequences of attempting to proceed with a European Super League would be the immediate destabilisation of the Premier League and the English game as a whole, at a time when it needs precisely the opposite. 

This is a time when English football should be coming together as we emerge from the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic. As previously evidenced, we would expect complete condemnation from all parts of the game, fan groups and the UK Government. 

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. 

A media statement will be issued on behalf of the Premier League and, should the announcement go ahead, we will call a meeting of Clubs to discuss the immediate implications and the Board’s recommended response. 

Both Gary and I are available to talk you through what we reliably know at this stage. 

Kind regards, 

Richard  

Richard Masters, Chief Executive 



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