More than a dozen big clubs from across Europe are in talks to become founder members of a potential new competition called the ‘European Premier League’, which could end up usurping the Champions League as the elite European club tournament.
Thought to be among those in talks, Manchester United and Liverpool were the two clubs behind the heavily criticised and recently dismissed ‘Project Big Picture’ in England, which sought to reduce the size of Premier League, handing more power to the country's biggest teams and providing a financial bailout for sides lower down the league pyramid.
Sky News has revealed that financiers are currently attempting to arrange a funding package worth an eye-watering £4.6bn, with prize money for the winners of the new breakaway competition potentially worth hundreds of millions every season.
It is said that up to 18 teams would compete each year, with fixtures played during the European season. The league format would then give way to a final playoffs-style knockout tournament to determine the overall winner.
It appears to be the closest step towards the breakaway European super league that has been rumoured on and off for years. Nothing, however, is confirmed as of yet.
It would not end participation in existing domestic leagues – Manchester United and Liverpool would continue to play in English Premier League, for example, but it could kill off the Champions League.
Aside from United and Liverpool, it is reported that Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham have at least been approached about potentially joining. But it is said that there may only be room for five English clubs out of the 18 in total, with others coming from Spain, Italy, France and Germany. That means one of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ could miss out.
The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain would also be obvious choices to invite into any sort of new elite European club competition.
Each founder member of the ‘European Premier League’, which is thought to be backed by FIFA, could be paid hundreds of millions to participate. It is not known whether UEFA supports the new tournament, but Sky’s report cites insider sources claiming they do not.
Without UEFA’s backing, it may be difficult for the ‘European Premier League’ to get up and running any time soon owing to expected legal challenges, while the current period of UEFA club competition structure covers the period until the summer of 2024.
Other details, such as whether it would be a closed league solely for founder members or if it would be possible for clubs to qualify through domestic leagues, are not clear.