London: A group of 12 elite English, Spanish and Italian clubs dramatically split European football by announcing the formation of a largely-closed Super League. They are leaving the existing UEFA-run Champions League structure despite warnings they could be kicked out of their domestic competitions and face legal action. The seismic move to shake up the world’s biggest sport is partly engineered by the American owners of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United who also run US franchises in closed leagues — a model they are trying to replicate in Europe. The power-play came after the rebel clubs reneged on a promise on Friday to back the plan by UEFA — European football’s governing body — to expand the Champions League beginning in 2024. The deal was designed to appease their wishes for more games, seemingly because they couldn’t control the sale of rights to the existing competition.
The ‘Dirty 12’
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the English clubs involved, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the Spanish teams and the Italian sides are AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus. The teams have 99 European titles between them. Three more teams are expected to join as founding clubs, which are guaranteed participation each year, with another five qualifying annually, making it a 20-team competition.
What will UEFA, FIFA do?
European football’s governing body UEFA and English, Spanish and Italian football authorities issued a joint statement threatening to ban participating clubs from “any other competition at domestic, European or world level”.