European soccer split: elite clubs threaten breakaway league
LONDON (AP) — A group of elite clubs split European soccer on Sunday with plans to walk away from the Champions League to create a breakaway competition, drawing an angry response and the threat of legal action from UEFA.
The moves to walk away from the existing structures in an apparent grab for more money and power includes Real Madrid, Barcelona, the American owners of Liverpool and Manchester United, Juventus and AC Milan. No German or French clubs have signed up.
The Super League plans, which were first leaked in January, have escalated into a greater threat to implement them on the eve of UEFA's planned announcement of a new format for the Champions League. While the long-standing existing competition that grew from the European Cup would increase to 36 teams and add more games as desired by the wealthiest clubs, they remained frustrated that UEFA would not grant more control of the sale of television and commercial rights.
Still, the European Club Association’s board, which is led by Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, and the UEFA clubs’ competitions committee on Friday had signed up to expanding the Champions League from 2024 ahead of ratification by the UEFA executive committee on Monday.
Now UEFA has announced it has “learned that a few English, Spanish and Italian clubs may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League.” The plan was called a “cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs” in a statement from UEFA jointly with the leagues and national governing bodies from England, Spain and Italy.
“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,” the statement said....