European Super League live updates: Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid withdraw

WE ARE CONSTANTLY UPDATING THIS STORY, SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE LATEST EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE DEVELOPMENTS.

Late on Sunday night the footballing world was rocked by the news that a breakaway European Super League had become one step closer to being reality.

Talks of the competition had been around for quite some time, but the majority of fans were still clinging on to hope that these major clubs wouldn’t ever go through with the idea.

They were wrong.

Mid-way through Manchester United’s game with Burnley, reports began to circulate that themselves, along with the rest of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ had signed a letter of intent to join the new format, sparking furious reactions from those in the studio, particularly Gary Neville.

Following those initial reports, an official statement landed just before midnight. 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs had given their backing, potentially changing the face of football forever.

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However, following widespread backlash from pundits, fans and players alike, the European Super League could already be on the brink of collapse.


LATEST DEVELOMENTS

11:04am: Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan leave European Super League

10:15am: Liverpool owner, John Henry releases video apologising to fans


(APRIL 21) 10:00am: Super League releases statement

“We are proposing a new European competition because the existing system does not work.”

“Our proposal is aimed at allowing the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the full football pyramid, including helping to overcome the financial difficulties experienced by the entire football community as a result of the pandemic.

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“It would also provide materially enhanced solidarity payments to all football stakeholders.

“Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due (to) the pressure out (put) on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions.

“Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community.”

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(APRIL 20) 22:56 All English teams out of the competition

Following on from Manchester City’ withdrawing from the competition, the remaining six English teams have also confirmed their intention to leave.


21:30 Manchester City confirm Super League withdrawal

Manchester City have released an official statement confirming they will enact procedures to withdraw from the European Super League.

Reacting to City’s decision, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the news: “I am delighted to welcome City back to the European football family.

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“They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices – most notably their fans – that have spelled out the vital benefits that the current system has for the whole of European football; from the world beating Champions League final right down to a young player’s first coaching session at a grassroots club.

“As I said at the UEFA Congress, it takes courage to admit a mistake but I have never doubted that they had the ability and common sense to make that decision.

“City are a real asset for the game and I am delighted to be working with them for a better future for the European game.”

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20:04 Ed Woodward to leave United

Ed Woodward will step down from his role as Executive Vice Chairman at Manchester United. The news is reportedly unrelated to the Super League decision and will be announced ahead of the New York stock exchange.

Woodward will leave the club at the end of 2021.


19:55 Growing reports of clubs pulling out of Super League

Both Manchester City Chelsea are reportedly close to pulling out of the competition, though no confirmation is immediately expected due to the logistics.

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Chelsea’s game with Brighton has been delayed due to protests among fans outside Stamford Bridge.

16:00: Bayern Munich and PSG stand firm against competition

Both Bayern Munich and PSG have reaffirmed their own status as being against the European Super League.

“Our members and fans reject a Super League,” said Munich president Herbert Hainer in a statement posted to the club’s website. “As FC Bayern, it is our wish and our aim that European clubs live the wonderful and emotional competition that is the Champions League, and develop it together with UEFA. FC Bayern says no to the Super League.”

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CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: “On behalf of the board, I would like to make it explicitly clear that FC Bayern will not be taking part in the Super League. FC Bayern stands in solidarity with the Bundesliga. It always was and is a great pleasure for us to be able to play and represent Germany in the Champions League. We all remember fondly our 2020 Champions League victory in Lisbon – you don’t forget such a joyful moment. For FC Bayern, the Champions League is the best club competition in the world.”

Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Chairman and CEO of Paris Saint-Germain also condemned the ESL: “Paris Saint-Germain holds the firm belief that football is a game for everyone. I have been consistent on this since the very beginning. As a football club, we are a family and a community; whose fabric is our fans – I believe we shouldn’t forget this.

“We believe that any proposal without the support of UEFA – an organisation that has been working to progress the interests of European football for nearly 70 years – does not resolve the issues currently facing the football community, but is instead driven by self-interest.

“Paris Saint-Germain will continue to work with UEFA, the European Club Association and all stakeholders of the football family – based on the principles of good faith, dignity and respect for all.”

14:20: Premier League issue statement

“The Premier League, alongside The FA, met with clubs today to discuss the immediate implications of the Super League proposal.

“The 14 clubs at the meeting unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition. The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those Shareholders involved to account under its rules. 

“The League will continue to work with key stakeholders including fan groups, Government, UEFA, The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA to protect the best interests of the game and call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.

“The Premier League would like to thank supporters and all stakeholders for the support they have shown this week on this significant issue. The reaction proves just how much our open pyramid and football community means to people.”


13:40: Pep says “sport is not sport with guaranteed success”

Speaking ahead of Manchester City’s meeting with Aston Villa, Pep Guardiola said he is not the best person to ask about the European Super League announcement, as he doesn’t have all the information and that the president of the committee should come out and explain.

“The people have to clarify, today better than tomorrow, tomorrow better than the day after. Come out, a world-wide issue, and clarify.”

However, he did go on to say the ‘non-jeopardy’ format of the competition wasn’t right.

“Sport is not a sport when the success is guaranteed, and when the relation between the effort and reward don’t exist. It’s not a sport when it doesn’t matter if you lose. It’s not fair if teams fight at the top and cannot qualify”. He told the media.


10:20am: Premier League clubs to meet today

Premier League CEO Richard Masters is set to chair a meeting with 14 of the league’s clubs today, the big six will not be involved.

It’s expected that discussions will focus on how best to react to the European Super League announcement, and potential consequences against those who have opted to join it. Though it’s unlikely any concrete decisions will be made today.

In a previously released statement, the Premier League strongly opposed the competition.

“The Premier League condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid.

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

“The Premier League is proud to run a competitive and compelling football competition that has made it the most widely watched league in the world. Our success has enabled us to make an unrivalled financial contribution to the domestic football pyramid.

“A European Super League will undermine the appeal of the whole game, and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs, and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper.

“We will work with fans, The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA, as well as other stakeholders, at home and abroad, to defend the integrity and future prospects of English football in the best interests of the game.”


10:15am: Florentino Perez claims Super League is ‘saving football’

The chairman of the European Super League has spoken publicly on plans for the breakaway competition.

“Whenever there is a change, there are always people who oppose it. We are doing this to save football at this critical moment,” Perez said on Spanish TV show El Chiringuito de Jugones.

“Audiences are decreasing and rights are decreasing and something had to be done. We are all ruined. Television has to change so we can adapt.

“Young people are no longer interested in football. Why not? Because there are a lot of poor quality games and they are not interested, they have other platforms on which to distract themselves.”

“If we continue with the Champions League there is less and less interest and then it’s over,” he said.

“When you have no income other than television, you say that the solution is to make more attractive matches that fans from all over the world can see with all the big clubs, and we came to the conclusion that if instead of having a Champions League we have a Super League we would be able to alleviate what we have lost.”



April 19: Ander Herrera and Mesut Ozil speak out

Ander Herrera and Mesut Ozil have become two of the first active names to speak out against the competition, sharing their own reactions on Twitter.

“I fell in love with popular football, with the football of the fans, with the dream of seeing the team of my heart compete against the greatest. If this European Super League advances, those dreams are over, the illusions of the fans of the teams that are not giants of being able to win on the field competing in the best competitions will end.” Herrera wrote on Twitter.

Ozil wrote: “Kids grow up dreaming to win the World Cup and the Champions League – not any Super League. The enjoyment of big games is that they only happen once or twice a year, not every week. Really hard to understand for all football fans out there.”

April 19: UEFA president hits out at Ed Woodward and Andrea Agnelli

Aleksander Ceferin has slammed the “disgraceful” proposals brought forward in the wake of the European Super League announcement.

He also had some strong words directed at Juventus’ chairman, Andrea Agnelli and Manchester United Chief Executive, Ed Woodward.

Criticising Woodward and Agnelli, Ceferin said: “I was a criminal lawyer for 24 years but I’ve never, ever, seen people like that.

“If I start with Ed Woodward, he called me last Thursday, saying that he’s very satisfied with reforms and he fully supports them. Obviously, he already signed something else.

“Andrea Agnelli is the biggest disappointment of all. I’ve never seen a person lie so many times as he did, it was unbelievable.

“We didn’t know we had snakes so close to us, now we know.”

April 19: UEFA reveals Champions League reforms

Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the European Super League, UEFA has proceeded with announcing the competition’s new-look format.

In a statement, UEFA explained:

“Taking the total number of teams from 32 to 36 in the Uefa Champions League, the biggest change will see a transformation from the traditional group stage to a single league stage including all participating teams. Every club will now be guaranteed a minimum of 10 league stage games against 10 different opponents (five home games, five away) rather than the previous six matches against three teams, played on a home and away basis.

“The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16 of the competition.

“Similar format changes will also be applied to the Uefa Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and Uefa Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage). Subject to further discussions and agreements, these two competitions may also be expanded to a total of 36 teams each in the league stage.

“Qualification for the Uefa Champions League will continue to be open and earned through a team’s performance in domestic competitions.

“One of the additional places will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in fifth position in the Uefa national association ranking. Another will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending from four to five the number of clubs qualifying via the so-called “Champions Path”.

“The final two places will go to the clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

“All games before the final will still be played midweek, recognising the importance of the domestic calendar of games across Europe.”

April 19: Premier League clubs set to meet

14 Premier League clubs are set to discuss next steps in a meeting on Tuesday chaired by CEO Richard Masters.

The six clubs included in the European Super League announcement will be excluded from the meeting.

April 19: EFL release statement condemning European Super League

The EFL has issued an official statement in response to the European Super League.

“The EFL stands with the Premier League, The FA, PFA, LMA, the FSA and colleagues across European professional football in condemnation of proposals which attack the foundation of open and fair competition upon which our game is built.

“A strong pyramid based on promotion, relegation and ultimately European qualification, is fundamental to our game’s continued success. The EFL opposes any reform that doesn’t support competition integrity or offer clubs the prospect of one day competing at the highest end of the game.

“Collective reform efforts should be focused on creating conditions that foster long-term sustainability at all levels of the domestic football and remove the current, almost impossible financial pressures created as a result in the huge difference of revenues allocated to the Premier League in comparison to the Championship and Leagues One and Two.

“The EFL has long stated that the economics and governance of the English pyramid should be re-set and we remain committed to working with the Premier League, The FA and the game’s stakeholders to deliver that vision, so that English professional football can thrive in communities across the country for generations to come.

“At its heart, football is a game for supporters and the widespread rejection of these proposals must be acknowledged. EFL clubs are an integral part of the towns and cities from which they take their name and, in many, deliver the biggest single form of communal activity in their local area.

“The EFL’s collective response to the pandemic in the face of significant challenges highlights just how vital they are to the life of the nation and anything that fundamentally weakens that system must be resisted.

“Having pioneered the world’s original League format in 1888, it is ironic that proposals which would serve to destroy the value of sporting merit were announced on the weekend of the League’s 133rd anniversary.

“Across EFL competitions, any club can triumph over another and fans of all clubs regardless of size and status, must always be afforded the hope that successes on the pitch will be rewarded. The Championship is one of Europe’s most prominent divisions and the gateway to England’s top tier. The introduction of a predominantly closed European competition at the elite end kills a part of the game and the League system we established over a century ago.

“Similarly, the rejection of these proposals, does not represent an endorsement for UEFA’s own proposed reforms, which themselves represent a significant challenge to English football’s domestic programme.

“Under both proposals, the EFL has concerns about the future of the League Cup which provides vital income to EFL clubs, is the breeding ground for stars of the future and provides the top and bottom of the English pyramid the opportunity to win the first major trophy of the season.

“The EFL will continue to work with colleagues across the game at home and abroad, to defend our national game, protect our members and ensure that fans continue to have a healthy, vibrant and enduring pyramid system that they can continue to be proud of.”

April 19: Jurgen Klopp says his position hasn’t changed on Super League

After declaring his opposition to a proposed super league format in 2019, Klopp said ahead of his side’s fixture with Leeds that his opinion hadn’t changed.

 “I hope this Super League will never happen. With the way the Champions League is now running, football has a great product, even with the Europa League.” Klopp said in 2019.

“For me, the Champions League is the Super League, in which you do not always end up playing against the same teams.

Upon being asked about his stance this time round, Klopp responded: “My opinion didn’t change. Obviously I heard for the first time about it yesterday, and trying to prepare a game, a very difficult game against Leeds, and I knew so far we got some information, not a lot to be honest.

“It’s a tough one. People are not happy about it, and I can understand that, but I cannot say a lot more about it because we were not involved in any processes, not the players not me, we didn’t know about it. That’s the case or the fact, the facts are out there. We will have to wait to see how it develops.”

April 19: Leeds players make a statement

Leeds players warmed up in in t shirts ahead of their meeting with Liverpool featuring the Champions League logo, along with “earn it” printed on the front and “football is for the fans” on the back.


What is the European Super League?

A new mid-week competition governed by the 12 founding clubs designed to rival the Champions League.

Who would feature in it?

The initial 12 founding clubs, along with an additional three yet to be confirmed would be a constant fixtures in the competition. Only five spots in the league will be assigned each year to clubs based on their sporting merit of the previous campaign.

The initial 12 clubs involved are:

  • Arsenal
  • Chelsea
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester City
  • Manchester United
  • Tottenham
  • Atletico Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Real Madrid
  • AC Milan
  • Inter Milan
  • Juventus

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has reaffirmed the club’s desire to move forward with the Champions League reforms which are expected to be confirmed today. Bayern Munich are yet to comment, though Watzke says their stance is the same as Dortmund’s.

“The members of the [European Club Association] ECA board got together on a virtual conference on Sunday evening and reaffirmed that last Friday’s board decision remains valid,” Watzke said in a statement released by Dortmund on Monday.

Porto president, Pinto da Costa has also confirmed that the club would not be involved with the competition, despite rumours suggesting they could be one of the three extra teams to be invited.

What will it look like?

The Super League website reads: “The Super League is a new European competition between 20 top clubs comprised of 15 founders and five annual qualifiers. There will be two groups of 10 clubs each, playing home and away fixtures within the group each year.

“Following the group stage, eight clubs will qualify for a knockout tournament, playing home and away until the single-match Super League championship, in a dramatic four-week end to the season.

“Games will be played midweek, and all clubs will remain in their domestic leagues.”

In their statement, the clubs themselves have outlined the format in three stages:

  • 20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
  • Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.
  • An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, 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.

How have other governing bodies reacted?

UEFA 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.

“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.”

Premier League statement:

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

What could the ramifications be?

Under Premier League rule L.9, which all 20 clubs sign up to, clubs must obtain ‘prior written approval of the Board’ if they wish to enter to anything other than the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, FA Community Shield, Carabao Cup or any other competition sanctioned by the county association.

Any player whose club agrees to join an unsanctioned competition also risks not playing in any UEFA or FIFA competition, including the European Championships and World Cup.

Back in January, FIFA had said that a breakaway league would not be recognised and that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organised by FIFA or their respective confederation.”

UEFA’s Alexander Ceferin has since confirmed the organisation will look into banning any players involved with the European Super League would not be eligible to represent their country at the Euros or World Cup.

Despite the condemnation, we’ve seen clubs involved in the European Super League resigning their membership from the European Clubs Association, the body representing the interests of professional association football clubs in UEFA. 

Manchester United Chief Executive, Ed Woodward, has also left his position at UEFA.

How would the league be financed?

It has been confirmed that around $5billion has been committed to by the American bank JP Morgan.

In their own announcement, the breakaways clubs state “The 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.”

Featured image credit: Getty