Toward the end of last year, a movement toward creating a European Super League, where top teams from the major leagues clubs across Europe will play against each other weekly, garnered momentum, with several of the big clubs signing up.
On Sunday, 12 clubs jointly announced an agreement to commence the Super League competition. From England; Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham: From Italy, Inter Milan and Juventus: And from Spain; Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona are all backing the plan.
“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,” a statement issued by the clubs said on Sunday.
“Three more clubs are expected to join as Founding Clubs before the inaugural season, which is expected to start as soon as possible. In the future, the Founding Clubs look forward to consulting with UEFA and FIFA to work together,” the statement added.
Each of the Founding Clubs has issued a statement confirming their commitment to the Super League. All 12 clubs have quit the European Club Association.
According to their plan, the Super League will have 20 participating teams, and the games will be played during mid-week. It will start from August and end in May, having two groups of 10 teams; the first three of each group will qualify for the next round. Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez, will be the president of the new league. The clubs will receive €3.5 billion for their infrastructure investment plans.
American investment bank, JP Morgan, has confirmed it will provide the funding.
The move has thrown the world of football into disarray, as both football governing bodies, fans and other clubs kick against it, calling it “embarrassing,” saying the move was borne out of greed. Former Manchester United defender, Rio Ferdinand describes it as “a war on football”, “a disgrace” and “embarrassing” as it stands against everything that football is about.
UEFA said every player and club who participate in the Super League will be banned from UEFA and FIFA football tournaments.
“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,” UEFA said.
“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,” it added.
French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson both issued statements condemning the new league and supporting UEFA’s position. Macron applauded the decision of French clubs to stay away from the breakaway.
“The president of the republic welcomes the position of French clubs to refuse to participate to a European football Super League project that threatens the principle of solidarity and sporting merit,” Macron said.
League bodies in Spain, France, England, Italy and Germany have all condemned the move, a stand Macron applauded.
UEFA has been working on a new plan that will see the Champions League restructured from 32 to 36-team, and plans to sign off on it on Monday. The plan will include proposal to collapse the group stage into a single table instead of the current groups of four teams.
Under the proposal, teams would play 10 matches each in the group stage rather the six currently being played, and there would be a playoff round before the last 16.
The breakaway has however, altered UEFA’s plan and would likely disrupt football as we know it if it succeeds. The Founding Clubs said there is plan to launch a corresponding women’s league as soon as possible.
Although the Super League has been in the pipeline for long, the Founding Clubs cited financial strains induced by the pandemic as part of the reasons for accelerating the plan, and also the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season.
“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,” the Founding Clubs statement said.
The fear is that the Super League will greatly undermine the current structure of inclusivity and equitable financial distribution in football, thus creating an elite league that will make smaller leagues and clubs irrelevant.
Surprisingly, FIFA did not condemn the breakaway but urged all parties involved in the “heated discussions” to “engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue” for the good of the game and in the “spirit of solidarity and fair play.”