Six English clubs have agreed to join a new breakaway European Super League it has been announced - and the day after that was announced, one of the so-called Big Six - Spurs - sacked their manager, Jose Mourinho. The sacking led to Gary Lineker, who has tweeted on a number of occasions against the Super League idea, joking that the Portuguese was the first of the Super League managers to lose his job.
Last night, LOI club Bray Wanderers tweeted: “We wish to confirm that we will not be taking part in any European Super League.”
Twitter users saw the joke, and retweeted this more than 11,000 times.
Bray later added: “We’ve won the same amount of @premierleague titles as @SpursOfficial” and as news of Mourinho’s sacking spread this morning, Bray tweeted: “Woah, we were only joking @SpursOfficial #Mourinho”
Derry City, referring to a BBC programme to be shown tonight about its historic return to football, tweeted: There’s only one story about leagues we’re interested in today and that’s tonight’s documentary about local people just wanting to see senior football return to their home town.”
English clubs also took the opportunity to mock the idea, and again Spurs were the target.
Sheffield Football Club tweeted: “Since Spurs last won the top flight Peter Schmeichel has been born, won 5 Premier League titles and had a son who has won the Premier League!”
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham have linked up with six European clubs – three from Spain and three from Italy – to create a rival competition to the Champions League.
It is anticipated three more clubs will join the breakaway group as founding members with the new competition, which will begin “as soon as practicable” to eventually feature 20 teams.
A joint statement read: “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new midweek competition, the Super League, governed by its founding clubs.
“AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs.
“It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.”
Timing of announcement ‘accelerated the instability’ of European football
The timing of the announcement is incendiary coming ahead of an anticipated announcement from UEFA confirming changes to the Champions League format on Monday.
The European governing body is expected to approve an increase from 32 to 36 teams from 2024 with the existing structure of eight groups of four replaced by one league. The format, known as the ‘Swiss model’, would see all teams play 10 games in the first stage with opponents determined by a seeding system.
The statement from the 12 clubs makes clear they do not believe these proposed changes go far enough.
It added: “The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model.
“Further, for a number of years, the founding clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis.
“The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid.
“In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions.
“The founding clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.”
How will new competition work?
It is proposed the new competition will be played in midweek with the eventual 15 founding members being joined by five qualifiers. It will be played initially in two groups of 10 with an eight-team knockout stage.
The organisers claim it will generate more money than the Champions League and that will result in a greater distribution of revenue throughout the game.
The statement added: “The new annual tournament will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment to uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues.
“These solidarity payments will be substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition and are expected to be in excess of €10billion during the course of the initial commitment period of the clubs.”
Fierce backlash from clubs and national leagues
News of the breakaway competition leaked out before it was officially announced and had already provoked a fierce backlash from UEFA and various national leagues and associations.
They pointed out the competition was unsanctioned and clubs and players risked bans by being involved.
World governing body FIFA also issued a strong condemnation after the announcement was made and called for further discussions.
The statement read: “In our view, and in accordance with our statutes, any football competition, whether national, regional or global, should always reflect the core principles of solidarity, inclusivity, integrity and equitable financial distribution.
“Moreover, the governing bodies of football should employ all lawful, sporting and diplomatic means to ensure this remains the case.
“Against this background, FIFA can only express its disapproval to a ‘closed European breakaway league’ outside of the international football structures and not respecting the aforementioned principles.”