It’s official. Tottenham Hotspur has released a public statement on social media and their website announcing that they have opted to join with five other Premier League clubs as well as six clubs from Italy and Spain to form a new breakaway European competition.
Dubbed The European Super League, Spurs join fellow “Big 6” clubs Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal in the competition, as well as Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, AC Milan, and Internazionale Milano.
This announcement comes one day before UEFA was set to officially announce a revamped and expanded Champions League competition for next season that would move to the controversial “Swiss model” and away from the existing group stage model. The Super League (and yes, that is what they’re calling it) released its first press release, providing general information about the new competition and how it will work.
Here are the main takeaways from the release and from subsequent reporting:
- The Super League will consist of 12 (but likely rising to 15) Founding Members — the 12 previously listed clubs, plus three more that they hope will join before the competition begins. In addition there will be five additional spots for other European clubs which can qualify each year based on league position.
- The clubs will be split into groups of 10, with the top three from each group progressing to the quarterfinals, and the 4th-5th placed teams from each group playing a home-and-home playoff for the final two spots. The competition will begin in August, with two-legged playoff formats leading to a final in May.
- The competition is intended to be a supplement to, not a replacement for, domestic club competitions, with Super League matches to take place mid-week leaving weekends for domestic leagues.
- Administration of the league will be done by the founding member clubs, with each member paying a €2m fee, with the fee possibly raising as high as €8m. Founding clubs will receive a payment of €3.5b, split evenly between members, to “support their infrastructure investment plans and to help offset the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- The statement listed expected revenues “in excess of €10 billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the Clubs.”
- The Super League will be chaired by Real Madrid chairman Florentino Perez, with vice-chairs Andrea Agnelli of Juventus and Joel Glazer of Manchester United
- The target for the Super League to formally begin is this coming August, 2021.
- A corresponding Women’s Super League is also expected to be formed in due course.
There are, of course, a LOT of questions remaining to be answered. For starters, the final three founding member clubs were not identified, but could quite likely end up including one or all of Bayern Munich, Dortmund, and PSG.
The real surprise was the intended start date of this coming August, which could be a negotiation tactic, but if true would basically render completely moot the current race for the Premier League top four and qualification for the Champions League.
The ramifications of this decision have not even yet begun to be felt yet, but is already having a seismic impact across the sport as a whole. The overwhelming reaction among football fans on social media has been aghast horror and rage over what they consider to be a betrayal of the sport and a cynical cash grab.
UEFA, which controls the existing Champions League, has responded by saying it will ban all participating Super League clubs from participating in any confederation-sponsored tournaments, as well as preventing any players at Super League clubs from playing for international teams in confederation-run competitions, including presumably this summer’s EURO 2020 competition.
Breaking | UEFA announces that every club & player participating in The Super League will be banned from all competitions at both European & international level - this includes playing for their country. (Sky Italia)— Get French Football News (@GFFN) April 18, 2021
The Super League’s announcement also provoked harsh rebukes from the Premier League and other European football federations, as well as UK prime Minister Boris Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron. FIFA, notably, expressed “dismay” but did not threaten any punitive action.
This is, of course, only the beginning, and there is going to be a LOT more to come out over the coming hours, days and weeks. What was rumor this morning is now official though — the European Super League has come, and Tottenham Hotspur have a seat at the founding table. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is very much in the eye of the beholder.