In Brief

European Premier League: radical breakaway plot is revealed

Liverpool and Man Utd are reportedly in talks to join new Fifa-backed tournament

The start of the 2020-21 Champions League season has been overshadowed by reports of a new tournament which could replace European football’s top club competition. 

Marcus Rashford’s late winner for Manchester United away at Paris Saint-Germain last night would usually take top billing on the back pages of the morning papers, but it’s the “European Premier League” that has stolen many headlines.

Breaking the exclusive story yesterday, Sky News says more than a dozen teams from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are in negotiations about becoming founder members of the new Fifa-backed tournament. The Times adds that the breakaway league is “championed” by Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez.

Liverpool and Man Utd are reportedly in talks to join the new league while Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham are among the other candidates. 

Sky News has learned that Wall Street banking giant JP Morgan is in talks to provide $6bn (£4.6bn) of debt financing to help launch the European Premier League, with the proceeds repayable from “future broadcast income generated by the tournament”, according to a football executive.

The “bombshell plot” would “reshape the sport’s global landscape”, the broadcaster said. 

How would it work?

The creation of a European super league is not a new concept, but following the recent “Project Big Picture” revelations, the latest rumours look to have substance. 

The new tournament could “usurp” the Uefa Champions League, Sky says. The format would involve up to 18 teams playing home and away fixtures during the regular European season. Top-placed teams would play in a knockout tournament and a provisional start date could come as early as 2022.

A formal announcement about the plans could be made as soon as the end of October, an industry figure has revealed, but a number of key details are yet to be finalised. It was described by the source as “potentially the most important development in world club football for decades”. 

However, a spokesperson for Fifa, world football’s governing body, said it “does not wish to comment and participate in any speculation about topics which come up every now and then and, for which, institutional structures and regulatory frameworks are well in place at national, European and global level”.

Uefa opposes ‘boring’ plan

In response European football’s governing body Uefa “strongly opposes” the plans and says a European super league or variants would “become boring”, Sky Sports reports. 

A statement said: “The Uefa president has made it clear on many occasions that Uefa strongly opposes a Super League. 

“The principles of solidarity, of promotion, relegation and open leagues are non-negotiable. It is what makes European football work and the Champions League the best sports competition in the world. 

“Uefa and the clubs are committed to build on such strength not to destroy it to create a super league of 10, 12, even 24 clubs, which would inevitably become boring.”

The start of football’s death?

Eurosport’s Ben Snowball says the radical plan to shake-up European football - “aka, put more money in the pockets of rich clubs” - has got tongues wagging. He believes that the European Premier League is the “start of football’s death”. 

All the signs of football’s demise are already there, says Snowball, “fans treated as customers, £15 pay-per-view matches, half the Football League tiptoeing extinction, redundancies of club staff (and mascots) to enable big-money moves, an alarming apathy among certain high-paid players. And now a proposal for a lucrative breakaway 18-team European Premier League to replace the Champions League from 2022”.

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Association, says the idea shows that billionaire owners of clubs “are out of control” and only care about their own greed, the BBC reports. Miles added: “This has to be the last nail in the coffin of the idea that football can be relied upon to regulate itself.” 

Meanwhile, La Liga president Javier Tebas was scathing about the project, arguing that plans like this “only look good when drafted at a bar at five in the morning”. 

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