The Breakaway European Super League: What You Need To Know
Compiled By Markson Omagor
*Plans for a breakaway European Super League have stunned football and threaten civil war in the game
*England’s Big Six – Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea and Tottenham – are all involved
*They are among the 12 ‘Founder Members’, along with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus
*But reaction from elsewhere has been universally scathing, from clubs, fans and governing bodies
*Here is a breakdown of all the key issues involving the bombshell European Super league plans
The world of football is reeling after the confirmation that 12 of the biggest clubs, spearheaded by the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’, have signed up for a new European Super League. Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham have joined a host of European giants and in doing so have sparked a civil war with and among the Premier League itself. Here are all the key questions answered on the move that is threatening to tear football apart.
So, what exactly is the European Super League?
Well, let’s start with the simple opening paragraph of the statement that confirmed the news on Sunday night and sent shockwaves through the sport and well beyond.
‘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.’
Those ‘Founding Clubs’ are, as mentioned above, led by the biggest six clubs in English football: Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham.
Add to that arguably the two biggest clubs in the world, Real Madrid and Barcelona, and a third from Spain – Atletico Madrid. Then there’s Italy’s three giants: Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
But what about the rest of Europe’s big clubs?
Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are understood to have rejected the idea, although the plan is to expand the league to 15 founding members, with a further five annual qualifiers – but no relegation for the big founding clubs, even if they finished bottom of the table.
It is a rapidly changing situation, however, and nothing is certain yet.
Borussia Dortmund confirmed this morning that they have no plans to enter the breakaway league, saying they ‘want to implement the planned reform of the UEFA Champions League’. Chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke insisted that Bayern were standing with them, adding: ‘It was the clear opinion that the plans to found a Super League were rejected.’
But if other giant Continental clubs want to be involved then they’d better sign up quick, because one thing’s for sure: if your name’s not down you’re not coming in.
Sounds a bit like a snooty nightclub…
Yes, and the burly bouncer guarding the guest list is Real Madrid president Florentino Perez. The European Super League is his brainchild.
But the new league also represents an American takeover of elite European football, with Manchester United (the Glazer family), Liverpool (Fenway Sports Group, led by John W Henry) and Arsenal (Stan Kroenke) all controlled by US billionaires and venture capitalists.
One source described it as ‘a US-led operation’, adding: ‘This is down mostly to the Americans at Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal who have believed for a long time that they should be making a lot more money.
Then you have Tottenham, who have just built a big new stadium and who would no doubt benefit from infrastructure payments. Chelsea and Man City, who have been reluctant, do not really need the money but there is the obvious fear of missing out.’
What’s the reason for starting a new Super League when all these clubs already play in well-established competitions?
Quite simply: greed. Or, as our Chief Sports Writer Martin Samuel puts it: ‘A sickening, self-serving attempted justification of what is at heart nothing but an attempted coup.’
Perez has long been jealous of the broadcasting revenue generated by the Premier League, the world’s most-watched competition, and he wants more money than the Spanish League – LaLiga – can offer.
Major US bank JP Morgan, a former employer of Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, are debt financing the new league which will see founding clubs receive £3.03billion, which is set against future broadcast revenue.
But if the Premier League is so successful, why do the English clubs want in?
Quite simply: greed (sound familiar?) Not content with the enormous revenue they already generate, these clubs want to have their cake and eat it: to rake it in from the Premier League while also milking even more money from a midweek European competition.
They have also guaranteed no relegation for any of the founder members, ensuring that even if they perform abysmally they will still enjoy lavish rewards while simultaneously blocking the route into elite competition for other ambitious clubs with superior teams and better results, such as Leicester, Everton and West Ham, who are shaking up the Big Six in the Premier League this season. The absurdly entitled elite do not like pesky things such as football results getting in the way of wallowing in their piles of cash.
But there’s already a midweek European competition – the Champions League. What will happen to that?
Stripped of its biggest clubs, club football’s current elite competition would wither and die.
UEFA, who were due to announce their own proposals for a revamped Champions League on Monday, reacted with fury to the news which had broken earlier on Sunday.
A statement, issued jointly with the three governing bodies and leagues involved, said: ‘If this were to happen, we will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever. We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening.
‘FIFA and the six Federations announced that the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.’
Does that mean that these clubs could be banned from playing in the Premier League if this goes ahead?
Yes. The Premier League – along with all the other big domestic leagues in Europe, plus the game’s governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA – will fight tooth and nail to stop their biggest clubs so shamelessly deserting the rest.
And there was a warning in UEFA’s statement to players of these clubs too: if you play in the European Super League then you will not be allowed to play in the World Cup or European Championship.
What have the Premier League said?
A letter sent by Premier League chief executive Richard Masters to all 20 member clubs, was also strong and laced with warning to the Big Six.
‘We do not and cannot support such a concept,’ he wrote. ‘Premier League Rules contain a commitment amongst clubs to remain within the football pyramid and forbid any clubs from entering competitions beyond those listed in Rule L9, without Premier League Board permission. I cannot envisage any scenario where such permission would be granted.’
Do these clubs need permission from the Premier League to play in the European Super League?
Yes. The Premier League was founded in 1992 on the basis that all clubs have an equal vote on the governance of the league, and a right to equal share of the basic broadcasting revenues. The Big Six do not, to say the least, like this one bit. They feel that they are responsible for generating the vast proportion of global interest – and revenues – in the Premier League so deserve a way to generate even more cash.
Sounds like these big clubs can forget joining a European Super League then?
They will be lobbying hard to get their way, have no doubt about that. Somehow they are brazenly trying to convince the rest of the Premier League and English football that the European Super League would benefit everyone.
In a rare public comment, United co-chairman Joel Glazer claimed that the closed shop would provide ‘increased financial support for the wider football pyramid’.
Just like with Project Big Picture – their failed attempt at bribing the Football League with cash to bail them out during the crippling coronavirus pandemic to let the big Six take almost complete control of English football, this new competition is motivated solely by selfishness and greed.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night condemned the six English clubs.
‘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.’
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said any major decisions about a European league ‘should have the fans’ backing’.
‘With many fans, we are concerned that this plan could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game,’ he said.
‘Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that undermines this is deeply troubling and damaging for football.’