12 of Europe's biggest clubs agree to form Super League
Twelve of Europe's biggest and richest clubs have agreed to form a breakaway league, dubbed the "Super League," that threatens to derail the longstanding structures of the sport.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus are the clubs that have agreed to participate.
Three additional teams are expected to join ahead of the inaugural season, the Super League said, adding that the competition will begin as "soon as practicable."
The remaining five teams would vary each season based on performance.
"The new annual tournament 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," read a Super League statement. "These solidarity payments will be substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition and are expected to be in excess of €10 billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the clubs."
The founding clubs will receive a one-time payment of €3.5 billion.
Investment bank JP Morgan is underwriting the project, sources told Mark Ogden of ESPN.
The move threatens the existence of the Champions League, Europe's premier club event. The Super League's proposal notes that matches will take place in the middle of the week, a slot the Champions League currently occupies.
In response to Sunday's development, which Martyn Ziegler and Matt Lawton of The Times first reported, UEFA reiterated its stance that clubs and players involved in any breakaway competition will face serious sanctions.
UEFA issued a joint statement with the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and the football federations in Spain and Italy, saying that the groups remain "united in our efforts to stop this cynical project."
"Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way," read the statement. "As previously announced by FIFA and the six federations, 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."
Though UEFA explicitly thanked German and French teams for refusing to sign up for the breakaway competition, two Bundesliga sides and one Ligue 1 outfit will be among the initial participants, according to Ogden.
The potential creation of a Super League has long hung over European football, with top clubs using the possibility of the competition to squeeze more money and control out of UEFA.
Sunday's news comes after the European Club Association and UEFA reportedly agreed on a plan to revamp the Champions League. UEFA is expected to announce Monday a new 36-team format - a style that would give major clubs a larger share of revenue generated.
Juventus quit the ECA in the immediate aftermath of the Super League plans going public, reports Rob Harris of The Associated Press. Club chairman Andrea Agnelli, who had been heavily involved in talks regarding a revamped Champions League, also resigned as ECA chairman and relinquished his position on UEFA's executive committee.
Agnelli is the vice president of the Super League, along with Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer. Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez is the president.
The other 11 founding Super League clubs are expected to follow suit and leave the ECA.
The teams said they want to continue competing in domestic leagues, while a corresponding women's league will also be created, the Super League noted.