Twelve of the leading football clubs in Europe have formally announced the creation of a Super League that will kick off “as soon as practicable.”

Barcelona Goal
Barcelona is among the 12 European giants that are banding together to create the new Super League (Image: Twitter / @FCBarcelona)

In a joint statement published by all of the 12 founding clubs, the new European Super League was made official. The new league will be run by its founding clubs and not by UEFA, which currently runs the Champions and Europa Leagues (the top two competitions at club level on the continent).

AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milano, Juventus, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham Hotspur are the clubs that are part of the Super League thus far. Three more clubs will join the permanent list of participants, while another five teams will be added to the table following qualification. According to the common statement released in the early hours on Monday, the creation of the Super League is motivated by “the need to provide-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.”

How will Super League work?

The 20 clubs (12 founding clubs, the other three to be added, and the five qualifiers) will be split into two groups of 10. The competition is supposed to start in August and will see games — both home and away — played midweek by each participant. The top three teams from each group will qualify for the Super League quarterfinals. The teams finishing fourth and fifth in their groups will go into a playoff for the remaining two places in the last eight.

A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final, which will be played at the end of May at a neutral stadium. Starting with the quarterfinals, the system is identical to the one currently applied in the Champions and Europa Leagues.

There are plans for the creation of a women’s Super League as well, the joint statement announced.

Real Madrid boss Florentino Perez leads the pack

Perez, recently confirmed as Real Madrid’s president for another term, is the Super League’s chairman.

“We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world,” Perez said. “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.”

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli and Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer will be the vice-chairman of the Super League.

“The Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities,” Glazer said, with Agnelli also in full support. “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.”

The statement puts forward some of the astonishing financial details of the project. “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 $12 billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the clubs,” the message reads. “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 $4.2 billion solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic.”

UEFA and European FAs want Super League clubs banned from national leagues

In the common statement, the Super League’s founding clubs say they “look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcome for the new league and football as a whole.” The Super League teams say they are also committing every member to the national competition, as it’s part of “the traditional domestic match calendar [that] remains at the heart of the club game.”

On Sunday afternoon, UEFA, the Football Associations in England, Spain, and Italy — and the corresponding professional football leagues in those countries — issued a statement informing the media about what was about to happen in regard to the Super League.

The groups made their displeasure known, saying they have zero tolerance for the new league and its creators. “We 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.”

If the Super League does move forward, UEFA and its partners, including FIFA, say they are considering “all measures available” to them — both judicial and sporting — in order to prevent the new league from happening.

“Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way. 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 team,” UEFA and its partners said.

French champions Paris Saint Germain refused to take part in the Super League plot. Also sitting out, at least for now, are German superpowers Bayern and Dortmund.

“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,” UEFA’s letter to the media wrote.

Gary Neville: ‘Take the titles off them. Relegate Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool’

Former Manchester United and England star Gary Neville, now a highly-rated pundit at Sky Sports, called for the relegation of the ‘historical clubs” involved in the breakaway. Hundreds of thousands of fans have also expressed disapproval on social media, asking the project to stop.

“Let them break away but punish them, punish them straight away,” Neville screamed from the iconic Old Trafford, where he was working Man United’s game against Burnley. “If they announce a letter of intent has been signed as six clubs, they should be punished heavily, massive fines, point deductions, take the titles off them, who cares? Give the title to Burnley and Fulham. Let Fulham stay up, relegate Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal because they should be the ones who suffer the most.”

The plans for the Super League were officially unveiled late Sunday night, just a few hours before UEFA was set to offer its plan to reshape the Champions League format on Monday. As part of its announcement, UEFA is expected to announce that, starting in 2024, clubs would be involved in a 36-team league.

This change will replace the group-stage action and will extend the overall number of games, as well as the number of teams entering the competition from the current 32. The “Swiss model” would add 100 additional games throughout the season and teams would play 10 matches in the initial stage of the Champions League, compared to the six they currently play in the group stage. The finalists would end up playing 17 games, four more than the actual format allows.