Manchester United are one of the clubs driving the European Super League
Manchester United are one of the clubs driving the European Super League

The football world has been shaken to the core after news of a breakaway European Super League was announced last night.

Twelve of the biggest clubs in Europe have schemed behind the scenes to put together a new competition to change the landscape of the game as we know it.

We have pulled together everything you need to know about the potential competition, including why it is being universally criticised.

What is it?

Put together by the owners of 12 of Europe’s most powerful clubs, the Super League would be a new midweek competition.

Their plan is for 15 founding members to gain automatic entry into the tournament each season, with five others invited based on their domestic performances.

The clubs currently signed up are Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

What they want want is more glamorous games against glamorous opponents, which in turn would generate huge amounts of money.

Interestingly, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have declined to join at this stage — and been publicly thanked by UEFA for doing so.

Read more: FA ready to block clubs from joining rebel competition

Why now?

It is not the first time this has been threatened but never before have clubs released statements and had plans so far advanced.

The statement on the websites of those involved states: "The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model. 

Liverpool owner John Henry (right) is one of the key drivers behind the new competition
Liverpool owner John Henry (right) is one of the key drivers behind the new competition

"Further, for a number of years, the founding clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis."

The American owners of Liverpool, United and Arsenal, combined with the long-held desire of Real president Florentino Perez and Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli to break away from their occasionally dull domestic competitions, have helped the league move closer to reality than ever before.

They do not see the value in playing teams such as Fulham, Getafe and Brescia domestically when they could be facing fellow super clubs on a regular basis.

Added to that, the impending Champions League reforms, which will increase the number of games played and guarantee spots for historically successful sides if they fail to qualify on merit, seems to have led to the rushed approach over the weekend.

The statement added: "The founding clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid."

Read more: Carragher slams Liverpool for signing up to Super League

How would it work?

The Super League is not intended as a replacement for domestic competitions, even if it will inevitably harm the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A.

All the games would be midweek fixtures, with two groups of 10 playing each other home and away to qualify for the knockout phase.

The top three would get there automatically, with the teams finishing fourth and fifth facing a two-legged play-off to try and make the final eight.

Tottenham and Arsenal would be guaranteed entry despite their recent Premier League struggles
Tottenham and Arsenal would be guaranteed entry despite their recent Premier League struggles

It means the finalists would either play 15 or 17 midweek games, an increase on the 13 any sides who make the Champions League final currently play.

It is also not clear how five 'invitees' would be chosen to join the 15 founding clubs.

Read more: FIFA express 'disapproval' of breakaway competition

Why the negative reaction?

It is not unfair to say the reaction to the Super League has been universally negative.

And it all comes down to the fact this is viewed as a power-grab by greedy owners desperate to fill their already brimming pockets with more cash.

The owners of these clubs want to join the Super League so they have more say — and get a higher percentage of money from broadcast rights, sponsorship and prize pots.

Juventus owner Andrea Agnelli has been a long-time supporter of a breakaway league
Juventus owner Andrea Agnelli has been a long-time supporter of a breakaway league

They want to take away the risk of not qualifying for the Champions League, which the Premier League rightly say would 'destroy' open competition.

The prospect of promotion and relegation of clubs such as Leicester and Atalanta upsetting the natural order and qualifying for top-level competitions is part of what makes football so watchable and enjoyable.

And the fact the 12 clubs are trying to alter that and change one of the key premises of football has not gone down well.

Sending more money to the biggest sides means less competition and less jeopardy on the pitch.

Read more: Supporters' trusts slam plan

What next?

The statement released by the clubs says that "going forward, the founding clubs look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole".

Whatever happens, it is going to be a mess and there is going to be a lot to sort out.

The Super League have touted 2022-23 as the right time to start their new tournament, yet they will be met with fierce opposition and legal challenges from all European leagues, the governing bodies and even television rights holders, who stand to lose billions of pounds in revenue.

On top of that, FIFA have previously said any player taking part in an unsanctioned league would be banned from playing in international tournaments, including the World Cup and European Championship.

It is going to be an ugly few months for the game and how it ends up is anyone’s guess.

The only thing you can say for certain is that football as we know it is unlikely to ever be the same again.

Read more: Neville furious at European Super League plans


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