European Super League threatens to shake up the beautiful game

Sunday's statement that 12 'founding member' teams would be breaking away from current UEFA competitions shook European football to its core.

The Super League is a long-discussed idea for a closed competition that would feature Europe’s biggest clubs. Over the years, there have been many different theoretical proposals for what that league would look like.

The league, should it be established, would offer permanent spots to some of the world’s biggest clubs and play matches midweek, while allowing the involved clubs to remain in their domestic competitions.

This plan is currently opposed by FIFA and UEFA, the governing bodies for international and European football, respectively.

However, a group of 12 clubs from across Europe’s biggest leagues announced plans to form a new competition called the Super League.

On Sunday, 12 clubs made it official, announcing their plans to break away from Europe’s governing body, UEFA, and forming their own league:

  • six English clubs: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur
  • three teams from Italy: AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus
  • and three from Spain: Atlético Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid

They plan to add three more permanent members and leave five spots open in the 20-team format that European clubs could qualify for from across Europe’s domestic competitions.

Which notable teams are not included?

So far, several of Europe’s biggest teams have not officially signed onto the project. Borussia Dortmund chief executive officer Hans Joachim Watzke says his team has no intention of joining in the next couple of weeks. RB Leipzig will not join, sources tell CBS Sports insider Fabrizio Romano.

Watzke also stressed that “both German clubs on the ECA board, FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, shared exactly the same stance throughout all discussions.”

Notably, among Europe’s elite clubs, current UEFA Champions League semifinalists Paris Saint-Germain are not among the teams making up the Super League.

Pinto da Costa, president of FC Porto, confirmed his side will not be joining a league that against UEFA rules.

Reactions

UEFA is threatening legal action against those 12 teams and could, in theory, ban them from future competitions.

Jesper Møller, Danish FA chairman and UEFA ExCo member said to Danish outlet DR Sport that UCL semifinalists involved in the Super League (Real Madrid, Chelsea and Man City) will be expelled from this season’s competition, along with the remaining breakaway participants, by Friday.

On Monday, in a fiery press conference, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin emphasized the potential consequences for players participating in the league.

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville has reacted furiously to the news that six Premier League clubs have agreed to take part in a new breakaway European Super League.

“I’m disgusted with Manchester United and Liverpool the most,” Neville said.

“They’re breaking away to a competition they can’t be relegated from? It’s an absolute disgrace. We have to wrestle back power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league – and that includes my club.

It’s pure greed, they’re impostors. The owners of Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City have nothing to do with football in this country.

Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham aren’t even in the Champions League. Have they even got the right to be in there? They’re an absolute joke.

Time has come now to have independent regulators to stop these clubs from having the power base. Enough is enough.”

Even the Prime Minister has weighed in.

And others…

A number of clubs have already ruled themselves out.

If there was any lingering doubt over the desire of these 12 clubs to launch their own competition, it has been removed by their statement – reinforced by each of them through their own media platforms.

So many questions remain unanswered.

Chiefly, can they actually get their plan over the line given the strong resistance from Uefa and the leagues and associations of the countries concerned?

But beyond that, who will the other three clubs be to make up the 15 founding members? Will Bayern Munich and Paris St-Germain eventually join up? And how will the other five clubs be decided?

These discussions will be fascinating. But right now, the clubs who have signed up to the European Super League have a public relations battle to turn around perceptions – because initial reaction has been overwhelmingly negative.

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