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European Super League: Breakaway tournament collapses

The football world was briefly in turmoil following a European Super League announcement which threatened to shake up the very foundations of the sport, but those plans have collapsed.

It was proposed that the new competition would be a rival to the Champions League, with organisers claiming it would generate increased and guaranteed income for the clubs involved.

However, following a mutiny by supporters, governing bodies, politicians and people within the game, all six English clubs due to take part quickly pulled out.

We’re taking a look at all of the key aspects of the revolutionary concept, which received such widespread condemnation.

European Super League Teams

Premier League sides Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham linked up with six European clubs to spearhead this breakaway.

Italian giants AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus are joined by Spanish powerhouses Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

It was expected that three more clubs would sign up as founding members, with the inaugural tournament designed to eventually feature 20 teams, including five qualifiers.

European Super League Format

The plan was to play midweek matches, initially in a round-robin format in two groups of 10 clubs.

That would be followed by an eight-team knockout stage featuring quarter-finals, semi-finals and an overall decider.

European Super League Statement

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.”

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.

“The new annual tournament will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment to uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues.

“These solidarity payments will be substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition and are expected to be in excess of €10billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the clubs.”

European Super League Reaction

UEFA had already planned an expansion of the current Champions League format and were left fuming by this breakaway move.

They teamed up with the Football Associations of England, Spain and Italy, plus the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A to condemn the proposal.

“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.

“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.

“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.

“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced.

“This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”

World governing body FIFA also issued a strong condemnation.

A statement read: “In our view, and in accordance with our statutes, any football competition, whether national, regional or global, should always reflect the core principles of solidarity, inclusivity, integrity and equitable financial distribution.

“Moreover, the governing bodies of football should employ all lawful, sporting and diplomatic means to ensure this remains the case.

“Against this background, FIFA can only express its disapproval to a ‘closed European breakaway league’ outside of the international football structures and not respecting the aforementioned principles.”

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