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What is the European Super League, which clubs have signed up, how will it work and will Champions League still exist?

THE Premier League has been rocked after members of its ‘Big Six’ declared their intent to join a European Super League.

Manchester United, Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are all involved in the plot, which has been blasted by Gary Neville as “criminal”.


Fans will be keen to know what is being laid out, how it would work and the impact any breakaway would have.

SunSport explains the plans, as they stand – and the hurdles that have to be overcome:

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What is the European Super League?

A 20-team breakaway league with matches to be played midweek and an end of season play-off to determine the winners, with a provisional kick-off from the start of the 2022-23 season.

In addition to the 15 founding clubs, who cannot be relegated from the closed-shop elite, five clubs will be entitled to qualify each season.

All matches will be played in midweek slots, with the clubs insistent they will be able to continue to play in their domestic leagues and “preserve the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game”.

The 20 clubs will be split into two groups of 10, playing 18 games – nine home and nine away – with the top three in each group qualifying automatically for the last eight knock-out stage.

Teams finishing fourth and fifth in each group will then play off to fill the final two knock-out slots, with the ties played over two legs apart from a one-off final “which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue”.

Which clubs would play in it?

England will have the largest contingent, with Liverpool and United joined by Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs.

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Among the remaining 12 ‘founder members’, Spain would supply Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona as well as Juventus, Inter and AC Milan from Italy.

It is unclear how the five additional teams will be selected each year.

What would be the format of the league?

It is envisaged that the teams will play each other home and away in a midweek league, with four from each group involved in the end of season play-offs.

Will they play in their domestic leagues?

That’s the plan. At least, for now.

How does it all fit in to a standard football season?

That is the big question.

The Premier League’s 38-game season is already squeezed into a 34-week window and there would now be an EXTRA 34 games for each of the five selected Prem teams to fit in.

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Reducing the Prem to 18 clubs, as envisaged in Project Big Picture – an element backed by all the Big Six – would create some wriggle room, as would scrapping the League Cup.

But Prem sides are mandated to play in the FA Cup.


Is there room for any other games?

Other than an early start and a late finish, no.

Until 2024-25, when the new international match calendar – still being worked on by Fifa – comes into operation.

One plan that gained support was for three four-game international windows – in November, March and June – each year, opening up the entire autumn part of the season for extra club matches.

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How much would clubs be paid?

A huge £3.1billion fund was being formulated by the competition’s organisers, which was to be split between the 15 founder clubs.

The payment, ranging from £89m to £310m, was reportedly described as an ‘infrastructure grant’ to spend on stadiums, training facilities and account for lost pandemic revenue.

The Glazers own Man Utd, one of the teams touted as potential members
The Glazers own Man Utd, one of the teams touted as potential members

What would a European Super League mean for the Champions League?

Curtains – which is why Uefa will fight tooth and nail to kill the plot stone dead.

If Europe’s biggest 18 clubs go it alone, the Champions League – let alone the Europa League – will plummet in commercial value, devastating European football’s economic model.

Will the Champions League still exist?

This was the unknown when the plans were announced, but what was clear is that the 12 rebel clubs – and any others who joined the Super League – would not be playing in it.

It is also not known whether the Champions League or domestic leagues would be used to decide the five qualifiers for the European Super League.

What would be the impact on the Premier League?

Not so much in the immediate term – but significant in the longer term.

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The “top four” race will be rendered redundant if there is a closed shop Super League, which will have an impact on future TV rights sales, although there will still be the appeal of the Big Six playing their domestic matches.

But the financial disparity between the elite and the rest will become a gaping chasm that will make the Prem utterly uncompetitive – unless the big boys prioritise the new European Premier League and play shadow sides at home, which, of course, will make the Prem even less appealing to the broadcasters.

This is arguably the best XI of players who as it stands would play in the European Super League
This is arguably the best XI of players who as it stands would play in the European Super League

Will it really go ahead?

On Sunday, Uefa, the English Football Association, the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), LaLiga, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A released a joint statement condemning the plans.

Should the domestic associations not give their blessing for clubs to join the league, they could be booted out of all domestic competitions.

Clubs have also been warned that their players could be ineligible for international football if they join a breakaway league.

Uefa are expected to confirm the details of the new-look Champions League to take effect from the 2024-25 season in the next few months.

On Monday, Uefa approved their new 36-team Champions League format which starts in 2024.

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