As Spurs sack Mourinho...
Boris joins condemnation of Super league plan
Anfield, home of Liverpool, could host ESL matches
European football is facing a damaging split as 12 of the biggest clubs – half of them from England – have agreed to form a new European Super League (ESL).
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham would play AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid in a new midweek tournament.
The ESL said the founding clubs would continue to “compete in their respective national leagues”.
About $5billion has been committed to this new project by the American bank JP Morgan.
In an announcement, the breakaway clubs said: “The Founding Clubs will receive an amount of €3.5 billion solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic.”
However, the idea prompted widespread condemnation with governing bodies FIFA and UEFA refusing to recognise the new competition. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the English Premier League also criticised the plan.
“Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action,’ said Mr Johnson on Twitter.
“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.”
Latest: Tottenham have sacked Jose Mourinho less than a week before the club play Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.
Mourinho, 58, replaced Mauricio Pochettino in November 2019 but has now been dismissed after a dismal domestic campaign and failure in the Europa League.
Uefa released a joint statement with England’s Football Association, the Premier League, the Spanish Football Federation, La Liga and the Italian Football Federation, as well as Serie A, saying they will “remain united” in trying to stop the breakaway, using “all available measures”.
Former players were also critical of the plan. Manchester United’s former captain Gary Neville told Sky Sports he was “absolutely disgusted”, while his ex-team-mate Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport that the proposals will hurt fans the most. Fan groups associated with all six English clubs expressed strong opposition to the Super League, accusing participants of being motivated by greed.
Chelsea Supporters’ Trust called the move “unforgivable” and said their members and “football supporters across the world have experienced the ultimate betrayal”.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust called their club’s agreement to join “the death of Arsenal as a sporting institution”.
Manchester City FC Official Supporters Club said the move showed “those involved have zero regard for the game’s traditions”.
Scottish clubs have not been party to the plans and there will be concerns that the ESL would drive a bigger wedge between the rich clubs and the rest, with its implications for signing top players.
Fifa warned that any players involved in the ESL could be denied the chance to play at a World Cup, while UEFA 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.
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.”
Uefa hopes the plans for a new 36-team Champions League – with reforms set to be confirmed on Monday – would head off the formation of a Super League.
However, the 12 sides involved in the Super League do not think the reforms go far enough.
The league will have 20 teams, involving the 12 founding members plus three unnamed clubs they expect to join soon and five sides who qualify annually according to their domestic achievements. Barcelona and Paris St Germain are among those which have not yet committed to the ESL.
Under the proposals, the ESL 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.
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– Real Madrid president Florentino Perez
From then on, it would have the same two-leg knockout format used in the Champions League before a single-leg final in May at a neutral venue.
The ESL says it will generate more money than the Champions League and would result in a greater distribution of revenue throughout the game.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is the first chairman of the ESL and says “we will 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.
Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer will be 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.”