European soccer split: elite clubs threaten breakaway league

·2 min read

LONDON — A group of elite European clubs is again threatening to walk away from the Champions League to set up a breakaway just as UEFA thought it had secured agreement on a new format for its own competition to be announced on Monday.

European football's governing body is aware that clubs including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United are among those renewing a push to launch a Super League, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Sunday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, confirming a report by The Times of London.

The European Club Association's board, which is led by Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, and the UEFA clubs' competitions committee on Friday had signed up to expanding the Champions League from 32 to 36 teams with a new format from 2024.

Juventus is said to be one of the teams involved in the Super League along with AC Milan, United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. French champion Paris Saint-Germain has not signed up to the Super League.

Serie A on Sunday held an emergency board meeting to discuss the threat of a Super League. Juventus issued a “no comment” reply when contacted on Sunday by the AP about the Super League plans that first emerged in January.

The creation of a 20-team annual competition would include 15 top clubs as permanent members. The five other teams would vary each season, although the qualification method has not been determined.

Each of the 15 founding members would get a share of at least 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in initial infrastructure grants. The money would be split among four tiers of clubs, with the top six each getting 350 million euros ($420 million).

The competition would begin with two groups of 10 teams, with the top four from each group advancing to the quarterfinals. That would guarantee every team 18 annual Super League matches, compared to a minimum of six games in the Champions League group stage.

The games — apart from the final — would be played in midweek like the current Champions League, allowing them to still play in domestic competitions.

This latest Super League proposal hopes to generate 4 billion euros ($4.86 billion) annually from broadcasters. In comparison, UEFA most recently reported making a combined 3.25 billion euros from selling the rights to the Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup.

The 15 founding clubs of the new competition would take the greatest slice of the broadcasting revenue.

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Rob Harris, The Associated Press