What is the European Super League?

Joe Gammie, PA
·5-min read

Fan groups, former players and politicians have all condemned proposals for a breakaway European Super League.

The bombshell plan, announced on Sunday, saw six Premier League sides join with other European clubs to form a group seeking to establish a new continental competition.

Here the PA news agency looks at what has been proposed and what the response has been.

– What is the new European Super League?

The Super League’s website said the proposed league will be a competition between 20 top clubs made up of 15 founders and five annual qualifiers.

The teams will be split into two groups of ten who compete for eight spots in the knockout stages, culminating in a final.

Games will be played midweek, all clubs will remain in their domestic leagues, and it will begin “as soon as practicable”, the league added.

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– Which clubs are involved?

So far 12 teams have agreed to join as founding members of the tournament, with three more expected to also sign up, the league said.

There are six English clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – as well as Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan.

– Why is it being set up?

The organisers claim the new tournament will generate “significantly greater economic growth and support for European football”.

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The decision to go public on the Super League follows a disagreement among some clubs over the level of commercial control they would have over the new-look Champions League.

The European governing body is expected to approve an increase from 32 to 36 teams from 2024 with the existing structure of eight groups of four replaced by one league.

But the statement from the 12 clubs makes clear they do not believe these proposed changes go far enough.

– How much cash is involved?

Investment bank JP Morgan has confirmed it will be financing the new European Super League, with a spokesman telling PA that it will provide debt financing for the competition.

It is understood that it will underwrite around six billion US dollars (£4.3 billion) in loans for teams involved.

– What has the response been?

News of the breakaway competition leaked out before it was officially announced and provoked a fierce backlash from UEFA and various national leagues and associations.

World governing body FIFA expressed “its disapproval to a ‘closed European breakaway league’ outside of the international football structures” and called for “all parties involved in heated discussions to engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue for the good of the game”.

A joint statement including UEFA and the English, Italian and Spanish leagues published on Sunday said it would consider “all measures, both judicial and sporting” to prevent the competition going ahead.

This could include attempts to bar the competing clubs from domestic leagues and their players from UEFA’s international competitions, too.

The proposals also drew criticism from former players, fan groups and politicians, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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– How is the Super League responding?

The new European Super League Company has revealed it has already launched legal action to try to prevent retaliatory moves.

In a letter to FIFA and UEFA leaders, seen by PA, the Super League Company calls for cooperation but also said it has already taken legal action to try to head off the threat of clubs and players being banned from other competitions.

– What have politicians said?

The Prime Minister said the European Super League was not “good news for fans” and he would work with the football authorities “to make sure this doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed”.

Downing Street said a “range of options” were being considered in response, with a German-style system of fan ownership of clubs and clawing back coronavirus support loans included as possibilities.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will make a Commons statement on the proposals – which have been condemned across the House – later on Monday.

– How do the fans feel?

The proposals have been condemned by supporter groups associated with all six English clubs involved who feel the move is based on financial gain.

Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said it would demand answers to the “unforgivable” proposals and said it was a “decision of greed to line the pockets of those at the top”.

Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly denounced the decision of US-based owner Fenway Sports Group (FSG), stating the club is “ours, not theirs”.

Meanwhile, Manchester United Supporters’ Trust and Arsenal Supporters’ Trust also called for the plans to be scrapped.

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Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust (THST) warned the “future of our club is at stake”, while Manchester City’s Official Supporters Club felt the plans demonstrated “zero regard for the game’s traditions”.

– Will the league go ahead?

Former Football Association chairman Greg Dyke does not expect the project to get off the ground because of the widespread opposition to it.

He told BBC Radio Four: “I don’t think it will happen. I think it’s a game that’s going on. But I don’t think it’s good for football in any way at all. Without the approval of UEFA, but particularly without the approval of FIFA, I think this is very difficult to make this happen.”

Another former FA chairman, David Bernstein, added: “A closed league, as they’re proposing, without promotion and relegation, without recognition of the rest of the game, is potentially a dead league.”