Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have agreed to create a Super League, despite widespread criticism of the plans.
A statement from the new league read: “AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs.
“Three more clubs are expected to join ahead of the inaugural season, which is expected to start as soon as possible.”
Florentino Pérez, president of Real Madrid and the first president 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 it’s our responsibility as big clubs to act on their wishes.”
The project is being launched to rival UEFA’s Champions League format, which currently dominates European football, and comes as UEFA is set to sign plans for an expanded and restructured Champions League on Monday.
The new Super League has been criticized by politicians, such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labor Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, as well as former players such as Gary Neville.
Johnson said the new competition will “touch the heart of the national game and engage fans across the country”.
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He added: “The clubs involved should be accountable to their fans and the wider football community before taking any further steps.”
Sir Keir said the plans had ignored fans, adding: “Football in empty stadiums hasn’t been the same in the past year. I can’t wait to get back to work. But this proposal threatens to open the door for fans for good. closing, reducing them to mere spectators and consumers.
“The clubs involved in this proposal must immediately reconsider. And if they don’t, they must face the consequences of their actions. Because football without fans is nothing.”
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville told Sky Sports: “I am not against the modernization of football leagues, we have the Premier League, the Champions League but I think I have to make proposals amid COVID and the economic crisis for all clubs is an absolute scandal.
“United and the rest of the ‘Big Six’ who signed up against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves.”
Neville added: “They have to deduct six points from all six teams that applied. Deduct all points. To do it during a season? It is a joke.”
UEFA, the FA and the Premier League have expressed their opposition, among other things, saying in a joint statement that they “remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project”, adding: “We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up for this.
“This stubborn self-interest of a few has gone on too long. Enough is enough.”
The English FA said: “We would not authorize any competition that would be harmful to English football, and will take all legal and/or regulatory measures necessary to protect the wider interests of the game.”
20 participating clubs will participate in the Super League competition – 15 founding clubs and a further five teams that can qualify annually based on their performance during the previous season.
It kicks off in August with clubs competing in two groups of 10, playing home and away matches, some during the week, with the top three from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Teams finishing fourth and fifth will compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining spots in the quarter-finals before using a knockout format to reach the final at the end of May, which will be played as a single match at a neutral venue. played .
Club players will be able to continue playing in their national leagues and a women’s league will also be launched as soon as possible after the men’s league starts.