KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- An official statement from the ‘dirty dozen’ of rebel clubs has set out their identities and the shape of their plan for a breakaway midweek European Super League.
The 12 confirmed founder members are: AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.
It is expected that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to kick off “as soon as practicable” with an upfront €3.5bn on offer and further €5bn-a-year to share out.
Florentino Pérez, president of record 13-times European champions Real Madrid and the first chairman of the Super League, said: “We will help football at every level and take 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 respond to their desires.”
Perez is understood to have been the man who acquired financial support from the United States banking giant JPMorgan.
Blow to UEFA
The announcement will come as a hammer blow to European federation UEFA which has been striving to keep the big clubs onside and inside a Champions League which is lucrative but, clearly, not lucrative enough for them.
UEFA’s executive committee is due to hammer out a new, expanded Champions League format today/Monday.
Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus and vice-chairman of the Super League, will come under heavy fire from the 246-member European Club Association whose interests he was supposed to have been representing as one of the ECA’s two delegates to the UEFA executive committee.
He left no doubt about his duplicity in echoing Perez’s words.
Agnelli said: “Our 12 founder clubs represent billions of fans across the globe and 99 European trophies.
“We have come together at this critical moment, enabling European competition to be transformed, putting the game we love on a sustainable footing for the long-term future, substantially increasing solidarity, and giving fans and amateur players a regular flow of headline fixtures that will feed their passion for the game while providing them with engaging role models.”
Agnelli’s claim to represent the best interests of fans appears way off course but they were endorsed by Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United and joint vice-chairman of the Super League.
Glazer, whose family’s motives have been under suspicion ever since they bought control at Old Trafford back in 2005, said: “By bringing together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world- class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid.”
A highly optimistic statement added that the founding clubs “look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new league and for football as a whole.”
Explaining the reasoning behind the rush to collapse the existing structure, the clubs blamed the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their statement 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.”
A women’s competition was also in the pipeline.
The clubs went on to outline the proposed competition format which would leave the leave the league to entry each year by five ‘outsiders’.
Competition format would be as follows: •
20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.
An August start with clubs participating in two groups of 10, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter finals.
Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions.
A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.
The underlying key to the entire venture was a confident prediction that the clubs would reap greater revenues than by continuing in the UEFA Champions League.
The statement added: “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 €10 billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the Clubs.
“In addition, the competition will be built on a sustainable financial foundation with all Founding Clubs signing up to a spending framework. “In exchange for their commitment, founding clubs will receive an amount of €3.5bn solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic.”