UEFA threatens to ban breakaway clubs from all competitions

It was reported earlier on Sunday that five English clubs -- Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur-- had agreed to join the new league.

The idea of a European super league has been regularly floated over the last 20 years, with UEFA coming out strongly against it.   -  Getty Images

European football's governing body UEFA and its member associations expressed its strong opposition surrounding reports that several high profile teams had signed up to a breakaway European Super League.

It was reported earlier on Sunday that five English clubs -- Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur-- had agreed to join the new league.

READ | Five English clubs signs up to breakaway league - report

Spain's Barcelona and Real Madrid and Italy's Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan have also been linked to the plan for a competition but no German or French clubs have yet to be associated with the breakaway.

The news came less than 24 hours before UEFA is due to sign off on its own plans for an expanded and restructured Champions League on Monday.

In a statement, UEFA said, "UEFA, the English Football Association and the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and LaLiga, and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A have learned that a few English, Spanish and Italian clubs may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League.

"If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we – UEFA, the English FA, RFEF, FIGC, the Premier League, LaLiga, Lega Serie A, but also FIFA and all our member associations - will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.

READ|Reaction to major European clubs planning for breakaway Super League

"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.

"As previously announced by FIFA and the six Federations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams."

German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough."

The moves were condemned by football authorities across Europe and former players such as Manchester United's ex-captain Gary Neville who called it "an absolute disgrace" and said the club owners were motivated by "pure greed".

Top French club Paris St Germain has not been reported to have signed up to the plan and French President Emmanuel Macron also raised his voice against the breakaway.

"The president of the republic welcomes the position of French clubs to refuse to participate to a European football Super League project that threatens the principle of solidarity and sporting merit," the French presidency said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"The French state will support all the steps taken by the LFP, FFF, UFA and FIFA to protect the integrity of federal competitions, whether national or European," the Elysee added, citing the national, European and globally soccer governing bodies.

Earlier on Sunday, the board of Italy's Serie A league held an emergency meeting on the threatened Super League.

A Serie A source told Reuters that the league had recently become aware of the plans for a breakaway project.

READ|Serie A calls emergency meeting after breakaway Super League

20-TEAM LEAGUE

There have been reports of a breakaway for several years and they returned in January with many media houses reporting that a document had been produced outlining the plans for a 20-team league including Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

In October, then Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said the club had accepted a proposal to join a breakaway league.

In January, Spanish league president Javier Tebas told Reuters that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool had been the driving forces behind the project, adding that it was vehemently opposed by other clubs in Spain and worldwide.

Those reports led FIFA and UEFA to warn that they would ban any players involved in a breakaway from playing in the World Cup or European Championship.

READ|Alex Ferguson says breakaway league would end 70 years of history

The move is a surprise after the European Club Association (ECA), which represents 246 of the continent's leading clubs, gave their backing to UEFA's Champions League reforms which are on the agenda for Monday's executive committee meeting.

UEFA has proposed an increase to 36 from 32 teams, and an overhaul of the group stage into a single table rather than the current groups of four clubs.

Teams would play 10 matches each in the group stage rather than the six they currently play and a playoff round would also be introduced before the last 16.

But while there has been a broad consensus and those reforms, the ECA made a late push to have changes to the governance and control of the competition.

Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told investors last month that he expected such an outcome.

"We look forward to seeing the full final proposal from UEFA that we anticipate will include a greater involvement of clubs in the governance and control of the competitions," Woodward said.

(With inputs from Reuters)

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :