In Depth

Premier League clubs 'in talks for Euro super league'

Representatives of England's biggest teams forced to deny breakaway plans after meeting called by US billionaire

England's five biggest football clubs have been accused of plotting a breakaway European super league.

Top brass from Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea were spotted at what The Sun calls a "clandestine meeting" called by US billionaire Stephen Ross at London's Dorchester Hotel on Tuesday.

They were there for "secret talks about a new European Super league", says the paper in a "world exclusive".

The Sun adds that the idea represents the "biggest threat to the English game since the Premier League breakaway in 1992 - and would spell the end of Uefa's Champions League".

A separate league for Europe's elite would benefit the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea as it would guarantee their participation in the Champions League – they are all likely to miss out on qualification this year.

However, the clubs have been quick to distance themselves from the claims, while Uefa has also pledged to block any efforts to set up a new competition or restructure the Champions League.

Manchester United told The Times they were "opposed to any breakaway from the Champions League or the Barclays Premier League", while the Daily Telegraph reports that Arsenal "have robustly denied any suggestion of a breakaway, but like others have admitted the meetings with US billionaire Stephen Ross's representatives took place".

Whatever happens, the selfishness of the biggest clubs has been exposed, says Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph.

He describes the meeting as "an assortment of executives arguing over entitlement, absorbed by self-interest and utterly lacking in self-awareness as to how shoddy and ungracious it all looks".

He adds: "The European Club Association (once the G14) have been in clandestine discussions for years in an effort to ensure competitiveness does not extend to the possibility of the richer, more established clubs becoming less rich and less established."

The Daily Mail insists a European super league was on the agenda at the meeting, along with the idea of playing matches abroad during the Premier League season

But the paper adds: "Proposals for change to the current European format are not being pushed by English clubs but are coming from those abroad. Clubs on the continent, particularly in Spain and Italy, want to ramp up European competition and are keen to make more revenue following the Premier League's new £5bn TV deal."

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