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European football in chaos as 12 clubs join new Super League

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The European football landscape could be forever changed with the news that 12 of the continent’s top clubs have founded a breakaway league that will stand in direct competition to the UEFA Champions League.

AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur confirmed the formation of the Super League in a joint statement released on Sunday evening.

The new competition will feature 20 teams, consisting of 15 founder clubs and five other teams to qualify each year based on their achievements in the season prior.

The field will be split into groups of 10 for home-and-away matches, with the top three from each group progressing to the quarter-finals. The fourth and fifth teams from each group will play off for the last two places in the top eight.

All Super League fixtures will take place in midweek, meaning they will follow a similar schedule to UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches.

According to the statement from the founder clubs, the COVID pandemic has “accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model” and forced the sport’s leaders to come up with a new approach.

“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.”

Florentino Perez, the president of Real Madrid, will serve as the inaugural chairman of the Super League, with Andrea Agnelli of Juventus and Joel Glazer of Manchester United acting as vice-chairmen.

“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.”

The men’s competition is expected to launch in 2022, with a women’s equivalent to follow soon after, and Super League administrators are hoping to work with FIFA and UEFA to ensure minimal disruption of domestic leagues and other tournaments.

However, the move has sent shockwaves through the football community, with several prominent governing bodies condemning both the concept and the teams involved.

“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,” UEFA said in a statement.

The English Premier League could be worst affected, with six of its most influential clubs signing on as founding members of the breakaway competition.

“Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best,” the EPL said in a statement.

“We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.”

According to the Football Association, a closed league featuring only the most affluent clubs would “attack the principles of open competition and sporting merit”.

“We would not provide permission to any competition that would be damaging to English football, and will take any legal and/or regulatory action necessary to protect the broader interests of the game,” the FA said.

The news comes on the same day that UEFA announced plans to expand the Champions League field from 32 teams to 36 teams by 2024 with the aim of increasing revenue for participating clubs.

The Super League’s founding members will each receive an initial cash injection of €3.5 billion “solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic”.

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