A dozen of Europe’s top soccer clubs announced plans to create a new league that would rival the longstanding Champions League, The New York Times’s Tariq Panja reports. The plan would concentrate the sport’s wealth with just a handful of teams — if it survives potential legal challenges.
The Super League, as it is known, was hatched in secrecy over several months. Among the founding clubs are Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United of England; Real Madrid and Barcelona of Spain; and AC Milan and Juventus of Italy. More teams are expected to round out the league’s 15 slots for founding, permanent members.
The idea is for the league to hold exclusive midweek matches in between domestic league matches. The largely closed league would operate more like the N.F.L. or the N.B.A., doing away with a new set of teams appearing in the tournament each year, based on their domestic league performance. Five spots in the 20-team league would be filled by an annual qualifying mechanism.
Big money is at stake: The Super League’s founding clubs would split 3.5 billion euros, or more than $4 billion, as part of its formation. That implies that they would make far more than what the Champions League winner took home last year.
JPMorgan Chase is leading a multibillion-dollar financing to support the new league.
The share prices of publicly traded clubs, like Juventus and Manchester United, jumped more than 10 percent in early trading.
The news spurred an outcry from the establishment. The organizer of the Champions League, UEFA, criticized the proposal as a “cynical project” and has been exploring ways to block it. The governing body of European soccer also noted that FIFA, the global soccer governing body, has threatened to expel players who participate in unsanctioned leagues from tournaments like the World Cup.
Political leaders like Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and President Emmanuel Macron of France are also opposed to the Super League.
But the organization behind the Super League said on Monday that it had taken legal action to counter any efforts to block the project’s formation — though it also said it wanted to work with existing soccer organizations.