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Explainer: how will the new European Super League work?

On Sunday night 12 European football clubs announced the formation of a new competition, the Super League, to widespread criticism from governments, their own domestic leagues, football federations as well as Uefa and supporters around the world.

It would be the biggest shake-up in the history of the European game although Uefa has said it will fight what it called “a cynical project founded on the self-interest of a few clubs”. Here we look at what the 12 clubs are proposing.

Who are the 12 ‘founding members’?

Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham.

What about the big German and French clubs?

They have said that they are currently not interesting in joining the project. Those clubs include Bayern Munich, last season’s Champions League winners, and Paris Saint-Germain, the beaten finalists who will play Manchester City in one of the Champions League semi-finals.

Will the 12 clubs leave their domestic leagues?

At the moment they are hoping to remain playing in those competitions but the leagues have all issued strong-worded statements condemning the clubs and the new breakaway league.

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How much money is involved?

A lot, as you can imagine. The statement from the 12 clubs said: “Founding clubs will receive an amount of €3.5bn solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the Covid pandemic.” It added: “The new annual tournament will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football … and [solidarity payments] are expected to be in excess of €10bn during the course of the initial commitment period of the clubs.”

How would it work?

There would be 20 participating clubs, with 15 founding clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.

When would matches be played?

There would be midweek fixtures with all participating clubs hoping to compete in their respective national leagues. There would be two groups of 10, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals. Teams finishing fourth and fifth would then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. A two-leg knockout format would be used to reach the final at the end of May, which would be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.

When is it due to start?

The clubs said in their statement that they were looking to start the competition in August.

What about women’s football?

The clubs said: “As soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition, a corresponding women’s league will also be launched, helping to advance and develop the women’s game.”

What did the organisers claim?

Florentino Pérez, president of Real Madrid and the first chairman of the Super League, said: “We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires.” Perez’s vice-chairs will be Joel Glazer of Manchester United and Andrea Agnelli of Juventus. Glazer said: “By bringing together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid.”

What has the reaction been?

There has been widespread disgust at the idea with Gary Neville, the former Manchester United defender summing up most people’s feelings when he said: ““I’m disgusted with Manchester United and Liverpool the most. They’re breaking away to a competition they can’t be relegated from? It’s an absolute disgrace. It’s pure greed, they’re impostors. The owners of Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City have nothing to do with football in this country. They’re an absolute joke. Time has come now to have independent regulators to stop these clubs from having the power base. Enough is enough.”

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