Sports

European Super League plots Premier League talks to win over clubs

The European Super League organisers have told i they are still planning talks with Premier League clubs despite several leading English sides publicly distancing themselves from the latest proposals.

Super League backers A22 revealed detailed new plans for a pan European competition, including three leagues, midweek games and free streaming of matches, after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Thursday that it had been unlawful for Fifa and Uefa to ban clubs from joining the competition.

The Premier League‘s “Big Six” joined 12 clubs in signing up for the original Super League plans in April 2021 but were forced to pull out following a monumental backlash from supporters. It caused the idea to collapse, but fresh life was breathed into the proposals by the ECJ decision.

On Thursday and Friday, each of those clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur – released statements declaring their commitment to the Champions League and Uefa competitions and rejecting the new Super League format. The Government also insisted that legislation was being introduced to stop English clubs from joining “breakaway” or “unlicensed” leagues.

However, A22 sources have indicated that the organisation has not given up on the prospect of clubs in the UK signing up to the new 64-team proposal.

“On 21 December 2023, we presented a new proposal for European club competitions for both men and women,” a spokesperson told i. “In the coming weeks, we will discuss the proposal with all interested clubs across Europe, including from the UK.

“The competition format we proposed is not a breakaway league in any shape or form – and is fully meritocratic. Our proposal is for a new mid-week European club competition with promotion and relegation at its core, running in parallel to the national leagues – the English Premier League will remain and continue to be run by its clubs.”

The original Super League plans were strongly criticised for the lack of sporting merit involved in qualifying for what was considered a closed competition. The organisers, heavily backed by Spanish sides Real Madrid and Barcelona, insist the new format will include relegation and promotion.

Nonetheless, it would remove the current European qualification system in the Premier League whereby the top four of five clubs earn the right to play in the next season’s Champions League – one of the most intriguing aspects of the league.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the Government “stood with fans when a number of clubs attempted to join a breakaway competition in 2021” and that “we stand by that decision and in 2024 we’re bringing forward legislation for a football regulator that can stop any similar attempts to do this in the future and protect the game.”

The A22 spokesperson added: “The A22 proposal is the starting point for a dialogue with all clubs. The difference between the day before the ruling and the day after is that clubs can now choose the path they wish to travel without fear of sanctions. That was an unfair system.

“This new-found freedom will take some time to get used to. But what that freedom of choice will inevitably lead to is the path to creating the best, most exciting and most fan-centric competitions in football. We believe our proposal can achieve these goals.”

However, Uefa insisted that the ECJ “ruling does not signify an endorsement or validation of the so-called ‘super league’”, adding: “Uefa remains resolute in its commitment to uphold the European football pyramid, ensuring that it continues to serve the broader interests of society.

“We will continue to shape the European sports model collectively with national associations, leagues, clubs, fans, players, coaches, EU institutions, governments and partners alike.”

The Premier League released a statement saying: “The ruling does not endorse the so-called ‘European Super League’ and the Premier League continues to reject any such concept.

“Supporters are of vital importance to the game and they have time and again made clear their opposition to a “breakaway” competition that severs the link between domestic and European football.”

However, the statement added: “This is a significant ruling and we will now fully examine its implications for the game.”

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