A competition which would “end football as we know it”, the prospect of a European Super League has never looked closer following Sunday’s dramatic developments that 12 teams have formally signed up to play in the proposed breakaway tournament.
For years, talk of a European Super League has been shrouded in mystery – but the recent reports, as well as the Premier League and Uefa’s swift and stern reaction – has brought it sharply into focus.
But what would the competition look like? Who would be involved? And what would it mean for the Premier League and Champions League?
What would it look like?
Confirmation came on Sunday that 12 founding clubs have agreed and formed the new Super League, with a further three to follow. Those 15 will be added to by five more clubs, with a “qualifying mechanism” in place to select who those five are annually, based on previous season’s performance.
The 20 teams would be split into two groups of 10, with each team in a group playing each other home and away in midweek fixtures.
At the end of that group phase, the top three from each would qualify for the quarter-finals, with the final two spots earned after a play-off between the sides finishing fourth and fifth in the groups.
From the quarters onwards there would be two-legged knock-out ties home and away, similar to the current knockout stages of the Champions League, with a single-fixture final at a neutral venue.
Who would be involved?
The 12 teams confirmed as founders include the “big six” from the Premier League: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal.
They are joined by Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid from LaLiga in Spain, plus Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan from Serie A in Italy.
Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig from Germany, as well as Paris-Germain from France, have been suggested as the other three founder clubs – though Porto, Borussia Dortmund and one or two other clubs have also been mentioned.
Five other non-founding clubs would enter on an annual basis depending on performance.
When would it take place?
The European Super League would not replace the Premier League or other domestic league competitions.
Matches would be held in midweek across the season. The competition is intended to run from August until May.
A statement from the clubs in the Super League said the inaugural season “is intended to commence as soon as practicable”.
Would there be relegation?
Under current proposals, there would be no relegation from the league. For the clubs who qualify for the European Super League through their domestic league performance, there would be no guarantee that they would be able to take part the following season.
Why is this happening now?
It is believed Sunday’s developments are in response to Uefa’s proposed Champions League reforms.
Uefa were set to discuss the reforms on Monday, which were thought to be a compromise from European football’s governing body by offering the clubs in favour of a breakaway competition more matches.
The reformed Champions League would have come into effect from 2024. Under the proposals, 36 teams would play in one league in a “Swiss model” – with each team playing 10 games. A knockout stage would then follow.
The reformed Champions League was proposed to favour the clubs central to the European Super League plans – and would have included four qualification spots for clubs based on their past performance in Europe.
If the European Super League goes ahead, it would effectively replace the Champions League.
What has the response been?
The Premier League said in a statement that a Super League would “destroy” the premise of open competition, while Uefa and the other top domestic leagues have signed a joint statement of condemnation.
Fifa has previously threatened to ban players from participating in World Cups if they participated in a breakaway tournament, while Uefa would take the same stance with the European Championships.