LONDON: Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal have reportedly discussed a resurrected plan to break away from the top division of domestic football and join a proposed European super league.
UK media has reported that the the clubs met United States billionaire Stephen Ross at London’s Dorchester hotel on Tuesday.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano and Liverpool’s Ian Ayre all reportedly took part in the meeting.
Talk of a super league, however, was widely believed to be little more than sabre-rattling at a time when UEFA has been weakened – lacking a president through Michel Platini’s suspension and a general secretary through Gianni Infantino’s departure for FIFA.
Arsenal, for example, said they were “strongly opposed” to any breakaway.
A spokesman said: “Not Arsenal, nor any clubs at the meeting, are seeking changes to the Premier League and European landscape and no conversations surrounding displacing the Premier League or starting a European super league took place.
“Discussions were primarily around the ICC [International Champions Cup in the US] and formats of European competitions that would complement the existing Premier League.”
Property developer Ross has a major presence in the sports market. He is principal owner of NFL American football franchise Miami Dolphins and played a key role in the formation of the pre-season ICC competition.
The tournament gathers some of Europe’s leading clubs and expanded from its established North American base to include new events in Australia and China last year.
ICC organisers Relevent Sports and Catalyst Media Group are both part of sports investment group RSE Ventures, of which Ross is co-founder and chairman.
Talk of such a competition is not new. European football’s governing body UEFA regularly comes under pressure from the European Club Association and its members in the hope of increasing their share of the television and sponsor revenues.
UEFA said: “UEFA constantly reviews the format of its competitions in close consultation with stakeholders, including the European Club Association. There are no concrete proposals on the table at this stage as we have just begun a new three-year cycle (2015-18) for club competitions. There is therefore no further comment to be made at this stage.”
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