They’ll join three Spanish and three Italian clubs in the new competition, which has been widely criticised
Six English clubs have agreed to join a new breakaway European Super League, it has been announced.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham have linked up with six European clubs – three from Spain and three from Italy – to create a rival competition to the Champions League.
It is anticipated three more clubs will join the breakaway group as founding members with the new competition, which will begin “as soon as practicable” to eventually feature 20 teams.
A joint statement read: “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new midweek competition, the Super League, governed by its founding clubs.
“AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs.
“It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.”
But not everyone is happy, with the plans receiving widespread criticism.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to Twitter on Sunday evening to label the proposals “very damaging” and call on clubs to “answer to their fans and the wider footballing community”.
He posted: “Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.
“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.”
Meanwhile, pundit and former Manchester United captain Gary Neville said he was ‘disgusted’ by the developments.
The former United and England defender told Sky Sports: “The reaction to it is that it has been damned, and rightly so.
“I am a Manchester United fan and have been for 40 years but I am disgusted, absolutely disgusted.”
The timing of the announcement is incendiary coming ahead of an anticipated announcement from UEFA confirming changes to the Champions League format on Monday.
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. The format, known as the ‘Swiss model’, would see all teams play 10 games in the first stage with opponents determined by a seeding system.
The statement from the 12 clubs makes clear they do not believe these proposed changes go far enough.
It added: “The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model.
“Further, for a number of years, the founding clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis.
“The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid.
“In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions.
“The founding clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.”
It is proposed the new competition will be played in midweek with the eventual 15 founding members being joined by five qualifiers. It will be played initially in two groups of 10 with an eight-team knockout stage.
The organisers claim it will generate more money than the Champions League and that will result in a greater distribution of revenue throughout the game.