What you need to know about the proposed European Super League
- Credit: Archant
A number of clubs, including England's 'big six', have announced their intention to break away to form a European 'Super League' – hijacking an anticipated announcement from UEFA confirming changes to the format of the Champions League.
Here's what we know so far.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are the six Premier League clubs that announced late on Sunday they would be founding members of the new competition.
Earlier in the day there were conflicting reports surrounding City's involvement, but it was confirmed in the official announcement that the Sky Blues would be part of the plans.
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The six English sides will be joined by Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona from Spain, and Italian sides AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus.
A statement from the ESL said: "It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable."
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No clubs from France or Germany have signed up for the new competition.
What's the format?
The "new mid-week competition" is a direct challenge to UEFA's Champions League format, and is intended to run alongside domestic competition as normal.
There would be 20 teams involved each season, 15 of which are founding clubs and therefore guaranteed a place every year.
Five other clubs would qualify annually based on unspecified achievements in the prior season.
Clubs would participate in two groups of 10, playing home and away fixtures in the first stage beginning in August.
The top three qualify for the quarter finals, while fourth and fifth-places teams compete in a two-legged playoff for the final places in the last eight.
From there, those sides would compete in a familiar two-legged knockout tournament until a winner is crowned after a final is held at a neutral venue.
The founding clubs wish to continue taking part in their national leagues, "preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game".
However, threats have been made by governing bodies that any club that commits itself to the new Super League may not be allowed to take part in other competitions.
What will the founding clubs gain?
As they are guaranteed a spot in the tournament each year, they will have the security of what would likely be a perennial place at the top table of European football.
At the moment, a maximum of four Premier League clubs can qualify for the Champions League through their domestic finishing position.
So these clubs would be less affected by a poor domestic season which would usually see them excluded from European competition, giving them greater reputational and financial security.
Simply for signing up, the founding clubs will each receive £3bn, which the ESL says is "to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the Covid pandemic."
Also, as the clubs themselves will run the competition, they will no no longer be at the mercy of governing bodies like UEFA and therefore would have greater autonomy.
Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez is the first chairman of the Super League, while Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli and Joel Glazer of Manchester United have been named as vice-chairs.
What has been the reaction?
One of almost universal condemnation from governing bodies and leagues, who view it as a blatant power-grab and have pointed out clubs and players could be banned for participating in unsanctioned competitions.
The Premier League described it as "deeply damaging" and urged clubs involved to "walk away immediately before irreparable damage is done".
The Football Association echoed those sentiments and added it would "take any legal and/or regulatory action necessary to protect the broader interests of the English game".
A further joint statement from those organisations, in conjunction with UEFA and the leagues and national associations of Spain and Italy, said it was a "cynical project" that was "founded on the self-interest of a few clubs".
Meanwhile, for Norwich City fans, it has been a reminder of how lucky they are "to support a club which puts community and family ahead of greed for money".
And the news transcended the footballing world as the leader of the UK's two main political parties both issued their own condemnations of the new Super League.