The ‘Big Six’ English teams have become key members of a breakaway European Super League. But what exactly are the details about this so far?
What exactly is the European Super League?
Twelve top European clubs have made it known that they have reached an agreement to establish a new midweek competition known as the European Super League and run by its founding clubs.
This proposal involves the clubs forming their own competition to rival the UEFA Champions League.
Which clubs are involved in this?
Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham, the Premier League’s big-six clubs, are all involved.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined the Super League as ‘Founding Clubs’.
It is expected that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season. According to the clubs, this first season ‘is intended to commence as soon as practicable’.
German giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are omitted. French champions Paris Saint-Germain are also not in the mix. Just yet, perhaps.
The clubs say that the formation of the Super League comes when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model. For some years, the Founding Clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season and creating a format for top clubs and players to compete regularly.
However, this proposal has received a lot of backlash from fans and pundits, who believe that this is to make more money.
How does this affect the Champions League?
The Super League would effectively replace the Champions League if it does go ahead.
The Super League developments came just 24 hours before UEFA announced Champions League reforms. The reforms were supposed to be an attempt to reach a compromise with the clubs who wanted a breakaway competition by offering them more matches.
The reforms have been planned to come into effect in 2024, expanding the Champions League to 36 teams, adjusting the format and increasing the number of matches from 125 to 225.
The reforms were intended to favour the clubs central to the Super League and even included a safety net of four qualification spots for clubs based on their past performance in European competition, should they miss out on qualification through domestic competition.
But it seems the reforms do not go far enough for Europe’s biggest clubs.
What is the format for the European Super League?
The clubs involved, in their statement, outlined the format in three stages:
- 20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
- Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar, which remains at the heart of the club game.
- An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals. Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. The teams will use a two-leg knockout format to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.
Perhaps the major reason for criticism around the proposal is that only five out of twenty clubs would enter based on their sporting achievements. The other 15 clubs, which are the founding clubs, will have their participation guaranteed.
How will the league be funded?
American bank JP Morgan has committed around $5 billion to this project.
The clubs stated in their announcement that ‘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.’
As we advance, the Founding Clubs have said that they “look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and football as a whole.”
What reaction has the Super League received?
The plans for the Super League have received widespread condemnation.
Governing bodies and leagues across Europe are viewing the proposal as an attempted power grab.
The Premier League released a statement saying a super league would “destroy” the premise of open competition.
UEFA was similarly critical in a joint-statement with the English Football Association, the Premier League, the Spanish FA, La Liga, the Italian FA and Serie A and threatened to ban participating clubs from their domestic competitions.
Even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken against it.