Plans for a European Super League have sparked outrage across the footballing world – but can it be stopped?
Six greedy English Premier League football clubs are among the 12 looking to pull away from UEFA and make more profit.
MPs have joined the chorus of damnation and today begun to speculate on how the move could be stopped.
Here are all your key questions answered.
Follow live updates on today’s European Super League fallout in our live blog
Why have the teams decided now to set up their Super League?
European football’s governing body Uefa had pencilled in the announcement of its overhaul of the current Champions League structure for today – and the Super League revelation pre-empted that.
Various breakaway leagues have been talked about for many years.
But the coronavirus crisis gave clubs time and space to negotiate – and allowed them to claim their debts had been worsened by the pandemic, so now was the right time financially.
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Is this all to do with TV rights?
No. By quitting the existing structures, European football’s most glamorous clubs would be free to strike their own TV deals but also endorsements and sponsorship.
The official timer sponsor, the “in association with” label, even the name of the competition would all fall under the clubs’ powers – meaning they can make the profit.
How frequently would they play matches – and where would they be?
Clubs would play between 18 and 23 matches a season with games staged in mid-week – effectively taking the place of Champions League fixtures.
The clubs would be split into two groups of 10, playing each other home and away.
If it goes ahead when would it launch?
Plans are being drawn-up for it to start in August at the beginning of the 2022-23 season – so the one after next.
But it could reportedly be launched this summer in extreme circumstances.
Those could include football’s governing bodies booting the rebel clubs out of next season’s competitions.
Can anything be done to stop it now?
The British Government tonight finally launched its long-promised fan-led review.
Whitehall lawyers are poring over competition rules to see if the Big Six would be acting as a “cartel”, as MPs allege.
The Culture Secretary also hinted that new legislation could be fast-tracked to block the Super League.
One Labour backbencher even suggested banning rebel teams’ non-British players from entering the UK.
Why would it be so bad for the rest of the Premier League if they still continued to play in it?
The extra cash the rebel half-dozen would reap would make it even more impossible for the other 14 Premiership clubs to try and compete.
The best players would only want to join the six sides represented in the Super League so they could play on the biggest, glitziest and most lucrative stage.
Can players be banned from playing for their country if their clubs go ahead and join?
The game’s world and European governing bodies seem to think so.
Fifa has previously said it would not recognise such a competition, and any players involved could be denied the chance to play at a World Cup.
Uefa repeated that warning when it said players involved would be banned from all other competitions at domestic, European or world level and could be prevented from representing their national teams.
Why would players stick with clubs if they’re losing the chance to play for their country?
The players involved are often paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a week, have access to the best medical care and facilities and can still travel the globe.
Many would be prepared to sacrifice playing at World Cup finals for such riches.
The clubs must have known how fans would react, why are they still going ahead with it?
The clubs stand to pocket up to £303million each.
Many have built up huge debts and simply want more money.
By setting up the rebel league, they can control how it is devised and the money divided.
If fans stopped going to matches would that be enough of a financial blow to make them rethink?
For all fans’ anger, many will still pay for TV subscriptions and stadium tickets to watch their teams.
Supporters may say now that they will stand in solidarity with each other and boycott rebel fixtures, but the lure of seeing their favourite team play the best teams in Europe might outstrip their principles – something on which club bosses are clearly gambling.
Will they still go ahead with it if they can’t get the French and Germans to sign up?
Probably, if the money is still worth it. The best-suppo
rted clubs and the most famous are in England, Italy and Spain, usually luring the game’s top stars.
A German and French resistance would be unlikely to derail the plan.