Man United, Liverpool, others plans split from UEFA

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Twelve of football’s most powerful clubs faced accusations of greed and cynicism on Monday as they announced a breakaway European Super League that could have far-reaching implications for the game.

The plans put forward by Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham have been hit by widespread condemnation by the UK government, governing bodies, fans and former players

They made their reaction known in a statement issued on Monday.

The statement read, “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.

“AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid CF 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.”

But the initial reaction from football authorities, fans and pundits was furious, with threats to ban participating clubs from domestic, European and world competitions.

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“Our members and football supporters across the world have experienced the ultimate betrayal,” the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said.

“This is unforgivable. Enough is enough,” it added.

The ESL said the founding clubs had agreed to create a “new midweek competition” to start “as soon as practicable” but that they would continue to play in their domestic leagues.

Three more clubs would be announced, the statement said, with the 15 founder members guaranteed to play each year. Another five places will available “based on achievements in the prior season”.

The founding clubs will share 3.5 billion euros for infrastructure investment and to offset pandemic costs, and are expected to receive a further 10 billion euros in “solidarity payments” over the life of the initial commitment — much more than is available in the Champions League.

“I think there are two things in play here: one is greed and the other is desperation,” former England Football Association and Manchester City chairman David Bernstein told the BBC.

“I think they’re in a desperate situation. One of the things they haven’t done during the pandemic is to impose some sort of wages control. They’ve got themselves into a bit of a predicament.”

Under the Super League proposals for a 20-team competition, the 15 founder members would be protected from the pitfalls of relegation, guaranteeing revenue streams from television rights deals and commercial sponsorship from regular matches between the European elite.

A pot of 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion, £3 billion), backed by US investment bank JPMorgan, has been put forward solely to support infrastructure investment of the founding members to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 20 teams would be split into two groups of 10, who would face each other home and away.

After an 18-game regular season, the top teams from each group would progress to the quarter-finals for a conclusion to the competition which mirrors the current format of the Champions League.

But it is the major American sports leagues that the plan most closely resembles.

Three of the English breakaway six are in American hands, who also have stakes in US Sports franchises.