Fifteen of Europe’s biggest clubs are in talks to launch a European Super League, planned to start in time for the 2023-24 season, with a $6 billion fund backing the project.
If the initiative is successful, it would threaten the existence of the Champions League — football’s biggest club competition.
The Premier League and Uefa are however among football authorities to have voiced their strong opposition to such plans.
In a statement released on Sunday, after reports in The Times suggested the idea of an elite European league had been revived and was being supported by five top-flight English clubs, the Premier League said such a closed-shop competition would “destroy the dream” of clubs and fans hoping to rise through the ranks.
The statement said: “The Premier League condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit which are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid.
“Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best. We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.
“A European Super League will undermine the appeal of the whole game, and have a deeply damaging impact on the immediate and future prospects of the Premier League and its member clubs, and all those in football who rely on our funding and solidarity to prosper.”
According to The Times report, Manchester City are the only one of the Premier League’s “Big Six” not to have signed up to the breakaway, though reports elsewhere have claimed that they too are involved.
No German or French sides are said to be part of the breakaway group, meaning Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, the two clubs who fought out last season’s Champions League final, would not be involved.
Uefa is due to discuss plans for a revamped 36-team Champions League tournament on Monday, with its executive committee expected to agree to the controversial proposals to expand the tournament beyond its current 32-team format.
The new format, which is set to start in 2024 and run until at least 2033, moved a step nearer on Friday following meetings between the European Club Association board and Uefa’s club competitions committee.
The so-called ‘Swiss model’ would see teams compete in one 36-team league – instead of the current system where 32 sides are split into eight pools of four – and guarantee each club 10 matches on a seeded basis.
The new format, which guarantees clubs four more games than in the current group phase, takes the Champions League from 125 to 225 matches and would create a huge headache for domestic schedulers.
However, those plans could be scuppered by the threat of a rival competition, and European football’s governing body issued a statement of their own on Sunday, vowing to resist what it calls a “cynical project”.
It said: “UEFA, the English Football Association and the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and LaLiga, and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A have learned that a few English, Spanish and Italian clubs may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League.
“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we – UEFA, the English FA, RFEF, FIGC, the Premier League, LaLiga, Lega Serie A, but also FIFA and all our member associations – will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.
“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.”
Uefa also reiterated its threat to bar players playing in any European Super League from playing in its competitions, while Fifa has made a similar pledge with regards to international football.
The Uefa statement continued: “As previously announced by FIFA and the six Federations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.
“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”