UEFA Champions League

Premier League, Serie A, La Liga clubs agree to formation of Super League

April 18

The European soccer landscape looks to be bound for a seismic shakeup.

Some of the world's most iconic clubs announced the formation of the Super League in a news release Sunday.

A dozen teams are listed in the release, including six Premier League clubs, three La Liga clubs and three Serie A clubs, confirming earlier reports of the proposal from Tariq Panja of The New York Times.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool make up the EPL contingent. Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan from Italy's Serie A are included, as are Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid from Spain.

The statement noted that it is "anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season."

Those three clubs are presumably Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund from the Bundesliga and Paris St. Germain from Ligue 1.

The proposed format for the Super League consists of a total of 20 teams ⁠— 15 permanent members and five clubs that "qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season," per the statement.

The teams would play midweek games in two groups of 10 for the group stage, with the top three in each group qualifying directly to the quarterfinal rounds. Teams finishing fourth and fifth would compete in a two-legged playoff for the two remaining quarterfinal slots.

After a two-leg knockout format for the quarterfinals and semifinals, the final would be held as a single game at a neutral venue.

The statement included mention of a corresponding women's league being launched "as soon as practicable after the start of the men's competition."

According to ESPN's Mark Ogden, $6 billion in funding for the project, which is planned to start for the 2023-24 season, is coming from JP Morgan.

The Super League is seen as a direct threat to the UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious ⁠— and lucrative ⁠— European soccer competition.

UEFA, the governing body of the sport in Europe, released a joint statement alongside a number of prominent domestic soccer associations regarding the proposed Super League.

In it, UEFA and associations called the Super League a "cynical project" and one "that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever."

Furthermore, UEFA reiterated that any club playing in the Super League would be barred from any other competition and that players on those clubs could be banned from representing their national teams. 

"As previously announced by FIFA and the six Federations, 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." 

Per The New York Times, each of the permanent members of the Super League would be promised $425 million to sign up. The league's news release stated that the Founding Clubs will receive €3.5 billion ($4.2 billion) "solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic."

Reaction to the news has been largely critical, as the Super League is seen as a cash grab by the proposed members. 

Sky Sports' Micah Richards, who made 245 appearances for Man City during his career, called the proposal "an absolute disgrace."

Gary Neville, a Manchester United legend, also voiced his displeasure on Sky Sports.

"I mean, I'm a Manchester United fan and have been for 40 years of my life, but I'm disgusted. Absolutely disgusted." Neville said. "They're breaking away into a league without competition? That they can't be relegated from? It's an absolute disgrace."

Neville even suggested that the Premier League should deduct points from the six English teams that are reportedly signed up.

In addition to the joint statement released by UEFA, the EPL sent out a separate release condemning the idea.

"A European Super League will undermine the appeal of the whole game, and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs, and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper," it said.

FIFA, the international governing body of the sport, also expressed disapproval of the Super League, citing that FIFA "stands firm in favour of solidarity in football" in a statement.

Perhaps not by coincidence, UEFA was reportedly set to announce a new Champions League format on Monday.

The Super League addressed the displeased organizations in its statement:

"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."

Whether the proposed Super League moves forward, it certainly seems that trying times are ahead for European soccer.

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