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.”
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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.
ESPN sources said earlier on Sunday that up to 15 of Europe’s biggest clubs are in talks to launch a so-called European Super League, planned to start in time for the 2023-24 season.
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“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.
Barcelona were the latest European side to confirm on their website their plans to join a new league. A statement said: “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.
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“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.”
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.
Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, also a vice-chairman of the new league, said the move would secure the long-term future of the game.
“Our 12 founder clubs represent billions of fans across the globe and 99 European trophies,” he said in a statement. “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.”
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 told ESPN on Sunday that New York-based investment bank JP Morgan will underwrite the project, with $6 billion distributed as loans to the teams. The financial institution confirmed on Monday that it was financing the league.