European Super League Will Include Real Madrid and Six Premier League Teams

LONDON — A dozen of the world’s richest and most storied soccer golf equipment on Sunday introduced that that they had fashioned a breakaway European membership competitors that may, if it involves fruition, upend the buildings, economics and relationships which have certain world soccer for practically a century.

After months of secret talks, the breakaway groups — which embody Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain; Manchester United and Liverpool in England; and Juventus and A.C. Milan in Italy — confirmed their plans late Sunday. They mentioned they deliberate so as to add not less than three extra founding members, maintain midweek matches that may put the league in direct competitors with the present Champions League, and start play “as soon as practicable.”

“We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world,” mentioned Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez, who was named the primary chairman of what the golf equipment had been calling the Super League.

The league they’ve agreed to type — an alliance of prime golf equipment nearer in idea to closed leagues just like the N.F.L. and the N.B.A. than soccer’s present mannequin — would result in essentially the most vital restructuring of elite European soccer because the 1950s, and may herald the biggest switch of wealth to a small set of groups in fashionable sports activities historical past.

In its present type, European soccer dietary supplements home league play — an English league for English groups, a Spanish one for Spanish golf equipment — with Continental competitions between the perfect golf equipment. The most prestigious of these, the Champions League, brings collectively the perfect groups from every home league annually to play for the title of Europe’s, and arguably the world’s, finest membership.

The present system funnels a whole bunch of tens of millions of of annual tv and sponsorship income to the world’s richest golf equipment, which complement their home income with multimillion-dollar payouts from the Champions League. But the format additionally sustains smaller groups in every nation, which profit from the gloss of their encounters with the giants and share within the cash these groups usher in from broadcasters.

The new superleague mannequin would change that, by stripping the Champions League of its most engaging and most profitable groups and successfully walling off the richest golf equipment in their very own closed competitors — and permitting them to separate the billions of in annual income amongst themselves. According to the Super League’s announcement, the founding golf equipment will cut up three.5 billion euros (virtually $four.2 billion) for signing on to determine “a sustainable financial foundation.” The per-team determine means every founding membership will obtain about $400 million — greater than 4 instances what the Champions League winner took residence in 2020.

The 12 teams that signed up as founders are, for the moment, limited to a dozen clubs from Spain, Italy and England. A cohort of six teams from the Premier League — United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham — represents the biggest grouping from a single country. Atlético Madrid is the other team from Spain that is said to have endorsed the project, while the Milan rivals Internazionale and A.C. Milan would join Juventus as Italy’s representatives.

But UEFA was taking the threat seriously. Its leaders spent the weekend in discussions about how to block the plan, including banning the breakaway teams from their domestic leagues and blocking their players from competing for their national teams in events like the World Cup. European officials also pointedly reminded the prospective superleague clubs (and, effectively, their players) that soccer’s global governing body, FIFA, has backed their threats of expulsion.

FIFA on Sunday expressed its “disapproval” of the concept of a closed league, but refrained from the type of threats being lobbed by top officials in Europe.

The leaders of the breakaway group have been trying to get other top teams, like Germany’s Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund and the French champion Paris St.-Germain, to commit. But to date those clubs — and others — have declined to walk away from the domestic structures and continental competitions that have underpinned European soccer for generations.

Their concerns can be political and financial. P.S.G.’s president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, sits on the UEFA board, for example, and also heads beIN Media Group, the Qatar-based television network that has paid millions of dollars for the broadcast rights to games in the Champions League and various domestic competitions.

The Premier League wrote to its 20 clubs after its board meeting on Sunday, though, warning the teams that the league’s rules bar clubs from joining outside competitions without approval.

“This venture cannot be launched without English clubs and we call upon any club contemplating associating themselves or joining this venture to walk away immediately before irreparable damage is done,” it said in a letter to the teams.

The timing of Sunday’s news appeared designed to overshadow UEFA’s plan to ratify a newly designed Champions League on Monday. That competition would be ravaged by the departure of its biggest teams.

The repercussions of a split between European soccer and its best-known, best-followed and most deep-pocketed clubs would be seismic. Without the top teams, UEFA and the domestic leagues would face demands for millions of dollars in refunds from the broadcasters who pay billions for television rights to air their tournaments. The clubs left out would face a serious blow to their budgets while many are still wrestling with the financial wreckage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. And any ban on national team play would affect players individually, even if they had no role in the decision-making.

Among the most notable teams involved in the breakaway group is Juventus, the serial Italian champion. Its chairman, Andrea Agnelli, had been until Sunday — when he resigned from both posts — a member of UEFA’s executive board and also the head of the European Club Association, an umbrella body for more than 200 top division clubs, the majority of which will be left out of the proposed Super League.

When asked by The New York Times this year to discuss his role in the talks of a breakaway league, Agnelli brushed off the idea as a “rumor.”

Still, according to documents reviewed by The Times in January, plans for the breakaway league had gathered pace since last summer. Top clubs sought to take advantage of uncertainty in the soccer industry caused by the pandemic to forge a new path that would ensure a degree of financial stability for them but would also almost certainly lead to a significant — and potentially devastating — loss in value and revenue for the teams excluded from the project.

Each of the would-be permanent members of the proposed superleague was promised 350 million euros, or $425 million, to sign up, the documents said. The group leading the effort had entered into discussions with JPMorgan Chase to raise financing for the project, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The firm has so far declined to comment.

Significant hurdles to the plan’s implementation remain. Governing bodies and leagues could follow through on their threats to expel the clubs and their players. As member-owned clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid would most likely require the support of the thousands of their supporters before formally joining, and any German clubs that agree to take part would face similar obstacles. All can expect heavy internal opposition, too; fan groups across Europe have consistently opposed even the idea of a closed superleague.

On Sunday, one umbrella fan group, Football Supporters Europe, called the superleague idea “illegitimate, irresponsible, and anti-competitive by design.”

“More to the point, it is driven exclusively by greed,” the group said. “The only ones who stand to gain are hedge funds, oligarchs and a handful of already wealthy clubs, many of which perform poorly in their own domestic leagues despite their inbuilt advantage.”

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