Explainer: What is the European Super League and how will it work?

The European Super League will be a midweek competition that will start 'as soon as is practicable'

THE 12 BREAKAWAY CLUBS

England

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

Italy
AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus

Spain
Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid

Twelve of Europe’s richest football clubs have announced they plan to form a new competition.

The European Super League will be a midweek competition that will start “as soon as is practicable”, according to a joint statement by its 12 founding members, who will govern the league.

Those clubs are AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.

They say that “a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season,” although it remains unspecified who they will be.

How will a new European Super League work?

The competition will involve 20 teams. This will be its 15 founding clubs, while there will be “a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season”.

According to their plan, the clubs will continue “to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game”.

When will the season start?

Matches will begin each August, 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.

Who will benefit?

If you believe the breakaway clubs, the Super League “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”.

They say the payments are far larger than exist with the current European competitions structure, and will be “in excess of €10 billion during the course of the initial commitment period”.

“In exchange for their commitment, founding clubs will receive an amount of €3.5 billion solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the Covid pandemic,” the joint statement said.

What do they say?

Florentino Perez, the president of Real Madrid, will be the chairman of the Super League.

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

“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.”

Joel Glazer, the Manchester United co-chairman, 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.”

What about the German and French clubs?

Bayern Munich are the current champions of Europe, but they are not due to be part of the competition.

The same goes for Paris Saint-Germain, who knocked Bayern out of this year’s Champions League last week.

Who is opposing it?

Just about everyone. Fan groups – including those of the founder member clubs – were quick to criticise the plan, while the sport’s existing governing bodies strongly oppose the breakaway.

Uefa said that the powers-that-be in England, Spain and Italy all condemn the Super League.

“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we … will 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,” Uefa said in a joint statement.

“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.”

What about Fifa?

Uefa’s statement said “as previously announced by Fifa” the Super League clubs 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.”

However, the world governing body later clarified their own position. “Fifa always stands for unity in world football, and calls on all parties involved in heated discussion to engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue for the good of the game,” its statement read.

“Fifa will, of course, do whatever is necessary to contribute to a harmonised way forward in the overall interests of football.”

THE 12 BREAKAWAY CLUBS

England

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

Italy
AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus

Spain
Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid

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