GENEVA (AP) — A club-owned breakaway Super League in European soccer came closer to reality on Sunday.
The controversial project has long been planned by elite clubs and held as a threat over European soccer body UEFA, whose lucrative and successful Champions League it aims to replace.
At 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Monday in Montreux, Switzerland, UEFA’s executive committee is scheduled to begin a meeting that would approve a new expanded Champions League format taking effect in 2024. That plan is now in jeopardy. A group of 12 clubs finally confirmed its proposed 20-team competition in coordinated statements as Sunday turned to Monday in central Europe, at a time seemingly designed to appeal to new fans in Asia and North America.
WHO ARE THE CLUBS?
The initial Super League group contains clubs only from England, Italy and Spain. They are: AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham. They want three more to complete a list of 15 so-called founder clubs. Those wanted clubs are likely Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in Germany, and Paris Saint-Germain from France. The 15 permanent members would be joined by five more who could qualify each year “based on achievements in the prior season.”
WHEN WOULD IT START?
The 12 clubs did not announce a launch date though previous project documents have said the 2022-23 season. The founders are taking control from UEFA and would co-own the Super League company to organize and manage the competition.
HOW MUCH MONEY?
The 15 would share at least 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion) each year with graded payments. In previous proposals in January, the top six clubs are set to each get 350 million euros ($420 million).
HOW WOULD IT WORK?
The competition is planned to open with two groups of 10 teams, playing each other home and away, with midweek games starting in the month of August. Each team would get 18 guaranteed games, compared to six in the current Champions League group stage, and 10 in UEFA’s preferred format post-2024. The top three in each Super League group would qualify for the quarterfinals. The fourth- and fifth-place teams would enter two-leg playoffs to get the other quarterfinal spots. The quarterfinals and semifinals would be a two-leg knockout series, and the final a single game at a neutral venue on the only weekend slot in the competition.
WHAT ABOUT DOMESTIC LEAGUES?
The clubs say they want to continue playing in their domestic leagues at weekends. Juventus said it would be willing to continue playing in UEFA’s club competitions until the Super League is launched. UEFA and the domestic leagues in England, Italy and Spain are unlikely to let this happen. They were joined by the national federation in each country earlier Sunday pledging to “remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project.” Expelling any Super League club from the traditional structure of European soccer is the strongest defense UEFA and domestic competitions have.
WILL NATIONAL TEAMS BE AFFECTED?
FIFA and UEFA have previously warned that players at Super League clubs would be banned from representing national teams in competitions they organize. UEFA’s European Championship and South America’s Copa America kick off in June. Qualifying games for FIFA’s 2022 World Cup resume in Europe in September. Super League clubs said they want talks with FIFA, whose own statement early Monday expressed “disapproval” without entirely closing the door on such a project. A previous Super League project document detailed how 12 of the teams could advance to the expanded 24-team Club World Cup which FIFA wants to launch in China possibly in 2023.
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