Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold controls the ball during the Champions League Quarter Final second leg between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield on April 14th 2021 in Liverpool, England.
Shaun Botterill | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
Twelve of Europe’s biggest football clubs have agreed to create a Super League, despite widespread criticism of the plans.
A statement from the new competition said: “AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs.
“Three more clubs are expected to join ahead of the inaugural season, which is expected to start as soon as possible.”
Florentino Pérez, president of Real Madrid and first president of the Super League, said: “We will help football at all levels and bring it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to fulfill their wishes. “
The project is being launched to compete with the UEFA Champions League format that currently dominates European football and it comes as UEFA was due to approve plans for an enlarged and restructured Champions League on Monday.
The new Super League has been criticized by politicians, such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labor Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, as well as former players such as Gary Neville.
Mr Johnson said the new league “will strike at the heart of the national game and affect fans across the country.”
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He added: “The clubs involved must respond to their supporters and the wider football community before taking any further action.”
Sir Keir said the plans had ignored fans, adding: “Football in empty stadiums hasn’t been the same over the last year. I can’t wait to get back to games. But this proposal is likely to fail. shut the door on fans for good, reducing them to mere spectators and consumers.
“The clubs involved in this proposal should rethink immediately. And if they don’t, they should face the consequences of their actions. Because football without supporters is nothing.”
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville told Sky Sports: “I am not against modernizing football competitions, we have the Premier League, the Champions League, but I am thinking of making proposals in the middle of the COVID and the economic crisis for all clubs is an outright scandal.
“United and the rest of the ‘Big Six’ who signed up against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves.”
Neville added, “They should deduct six points from the six teams that signed up. Deduct points from all of them. Doing it for a season? It’s a joke.”
UEFA, FA and Premier League have, among others, expressed their opposition, saying in a joint statement that they “remain united in our efforts to end this cynical project”, adding: “We thank these clubs in other countries, in particular the French and German Clubs, which refused to join.
“This lingering self-interest of a few has gone on for too long. Enough is enough.”
The English FA said: “We will not give permission to any competition which harms English football, and will take all legal and / or regulatory measures necessary to protect the wider interests of the game.”
The Super League competition will see 20 participating clubs – 15 founding clubs and five other teams capable of qualifying each year based on their achievements in the previous season.
It will start in August with the clubs participating in two groups of 10, playing home and away matches, some during the week, with the top three from each group advancing to the quarter-finals.
The teams finishing fourth and fifth will face off in a two-way play-off for the remaining quarter-finals before a knockout format is used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be played in a single match. on neutral ground. .
Club players will be able to continue competing in their domestic leagues and as soon as possible after the start of the men’s competition a women’s league will also be launched.