Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham are among 12 clubs that have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL).
In a massive move against UEFA and European football – the Premier League‘s famed “Big 6” clubs join AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid in this new league that is known as The Super League.
The ESL said the founding clubs had agreed to establish a “new midweek competition” with teams continuing to “compete in their respective national (domestic) leagues”.
It said the inaugural season was “intended to commence as soon as practicable” and “anticipated that a further three clubs” would join the breakaway, with them anticipating the clubs to be Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain.
The ESL said it also planned to launch a women’s competition as soon as possible after the men’s tournament starts.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, UEFA and the Premier League condemned the move when the news broke out on Sunday.
Speaking on Monday, the UK PM said the government was “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”.
Speaking to broadcasters, he said: “I don’t think that it is good news for fans, I don’t think it’s good news for football in this country.”
Critics say the move is being driven purely by money, would destroy domestic leagues and is against the integrity of the sport.
Unlike the Champions League, which teams must qualify for, the ESL would include the same 15 teams every year, with the remaining five qualifying annually.
World governing body FIFA had previously said it would not recognise such a competition, and any players involved could be denied the chance to play at the World Cup.
UEFA, Europe’s governing body, reiterated that warning on Sunday when it said players involved would be banned from all other competitions at domestic, European or world level and could be prevented from representing their national teams.
After the ESL was announced, FIFA expressed its “disapproval” of the Super League and called on “all parties involved in heated discussions to engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue for the good of the game”.
The ESL has sent a letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino and UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin issuing notice of legal proceedings in European courts designed to block any sanctions the two governing bodies may try enforce over the formation of the ESL.
In a statement, the ESL 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.”
What would the league format be?
The league will have 20 teams – the 12 founding members plus the three unnamed clubs they expect to join soon, and five sides who qualify annually according to their domestic achievements.
Under the proposals, the Super League campaign would start in August each year, with midweek fixtures, and the clubs would be split into two groups of 10, playing each other home and away.
The top three in each group would qualify for the quarter-finals, with the teams in fourth and fifth playing a two-legged play-off for the two remaining spots.
From then on, it would have the same two-leg knockout format used in the Champions League before a single-leg final is played in May at a neutral venue.
The Super League said it would generate more money than the Champions League and would result in a greater distribution of revenue throughout the game.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was nominated as the first chairman of the ESL, and said the new competition would “help football at every level”.
“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,” he added.
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli has resigned from the UEFA executive committee and as chairman of the European Club Association (ECA), which had pushed the planned Champions League reforms.
He said the 12 clubs had “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”.
It is understood all 12 clubs have resigned from the ECA and their respective representatives from the ECA board.
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano have also stepped down from their roles at UEFA.
Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer is a vice-chairman of the Super League.
He 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.”
Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund have said they will not be joining and are committed to the ECA, along with fellow German side Bayern Munich.
PSG are also expected to reject the invitation to join this new league.