The European Club Association says it is “strongly opposed” to a European Super League and distanced itself from having any involvement in the proposal after holding an emergency meeting.
Edwin van der Sar chaired the meeting in the absence of ECA president Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus chairman, who is leading the 12 clubs in their push for a new super league alongside Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez, Liverpool’s John W. Henry, Manchester United’s Joel Glazer and Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke.
In a statement released on Sunday night, the ECA made clear the group’s desire to continue to work with UEFA on a new-look Champions League.
It read: “In light of today’s reports on the subject of a so-called breakaway league, ECA as the body representing 246 leading clubs across Europe, reiterates its stated commitment to working on developing the UEFA club competitions (UCCs) model with UEFA for the cycle beginning 2024 and that a ‘closed super league model’ to which media articles refer would be strongly opposed by ECA.
“ECA would refer to the position adopted by its Executive Board at its meeting last Friday 16th April, namely that it supports a commitment to work with UEFA on a renewed structure for European Club Football as a whole post-2024.
“With ECA’s support, UEFA’s Executive Committee is being asked to endorse these commitments at its meeting on 19th April along with pursuing efforts to reach an agreement on the future relationship between ECA and UEFA.
“The ECA Executive Board will be convening over the coming days to take appropriate decisions in light of any further developments.”
The absence of Agnelli at Sunday night’s meeting was notable as the Italian is widely considered to be the biggest advocate for a new marquee league, which would effectively be a closed shop.
Agnelli is understood to be leading a revolt with clubs – notably the American-owned Premier League pair of Manchester United and Liverpool – demanding greater input in negotiations over broadcast and sponsorship – believing that they can generate more money than UEFA achieves itself.
They will be backed by New York-based investment bank, JP Morgan, who will underwrite the project with £5bn distributed as loans to the teams.
Agnelli’s role as ECA president is simply untenable following the statement made without him. Both Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain notably were in attendance, with both having notably sided with UEFA on the issue.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is a member of the UEFA Executive Committee.
So far 12 European clubs have signed up to the breakaway competition, including Manchester City, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham from the Premier League.
The clubs on the continent are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
The 12 clubs’ combined involvement in the breakaway league would entirely devalue any UEFA competition, with UEFA’s announcement of its own proposal for a revamped Champions League just 24 hours away.
The six English clubs have no plans to resign from the domestic game but need the support of the Premier League for the idea to come to fruition.
But this is something they’re not going to get as the Premier League is not prepared to weaken its own competition.
The Premier League released a statement earlier in the day in which it accused the breakaway idea of attacking the principles of open competition.
The statement read: “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.”
UEFA, The FA and the UK Government have also released statements in staunch opposition of the proposal this Sunday.