Proposals for a European Super League in association football

Proposals for a European Super League in association football consist of recurring attempts by individual teams or consortiums of association football clubs to advocate for the creation of an additional tier of European football outside of the traditional footballing pyramids of each national association. Different outlines have been proposed in several occasions since the late 1980s, with different variations of structure, eligibility and competition. Any proposals have traditionally been objected to by FIFA and UEFA as well as the national associations.

Discussions about the potential for a European league started to be made in the 1970s but drew legal traction only in late 1980s.[1][2] The formation of the G-14 in 1998 and its successor the European Club Association ten years later, brought the collective bargaining power of Europe's biggest teams against UEFA, and combined with initial suggestions of a breakaway league concessions were earned. There were subsequently recurring discussions, led for the most part by then-Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez.

In April 2021, twelve clubs formally announced that they would be forming the European Super League to start in August of the same year. In response, FIFA and all six continental confederations, including UEFA, rejected the formation of a breakaway league and it received widespread condemnation from each national association, fans, clubs, players, and associated organisations. Following the backlash, the six English clubs announced their withdrawal from the competition resulting in the project becoming dormant.


In 1998, Italian company Media Partners seriously investigated the idea. The plan died after UEFA moved to expand the Champions League competition and abolish the Cup Winners' Cup in order to better accommodate clubs that were considering defecting in order to join the proposed Super League.[3]

In July 2009, Real Madrid's Florentino Pérez championed the idea. In August 2009, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger predicted a super league would become reality within 10 years time due to revenue pressure on the continent's elite teams.[4]

In February 2012, Clarence Seedorf also predicted the inception of the competition, and gave it his backing.[5] In April 2013, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan said that he believes the Old Firm clubs of Celtic and Rangers would join a future new 38-club two-division European Super League.[6]

Florentino Pérez's 2009 proposal

On 4 July 2009, Florentino Pérez, fed up with UEFA, criticised the current Champions League, saying: "We have to agree a new European Super League which guarantees that the best always play the best – something that does not happen in the Champions League."[7] Perez stated that he would push for a break-away competition featuring Europe's traditional powerhouses if UEFA didn't do more to ensure these teams played each other annually.[8]

Under Perez's plan, the continent's best teams would remain part of their respective national systems, but would be guaranteed the opportunity to play each other at the conclusion of the regular league season.[8]

Stephen M. Ross's proposal

In 2016, representatives from Premier League clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United, were seen leaving a meeting with Stephen M. Ross' representatives that discussed the proposition of a European Super League.[9]

2016 UEFA changes

In 2016, UEFA again discussed the possibility of creating a closed league containing the 16 best teams in European football from the highest ranked national leagues. These 16 teams would have been divided into 2 groups, with 8 teams in each group. After 56 games in each group under the round-robin system, the teams that finished in places 1–4 would qualify for the quarter-finals. That plan was finally rejected and UEFA, in order to avoid the creation of a super league, made changes to the structure of the Champions League. For the trade cycle 2018–21, UEFA announced that England, Italy, Spain, and Germany would have 4 teams in the Champions League group stage without having to compete in playoffs. This means that the number of direct places would be increased from 22 to 26; the 6 remaining places would come from the champions' path (down from 5 teams to 4 teams), and the non-champions' path (down from 5 teams to 2 teams). If the title holder of this competition qualifies for the Champions League from its domestic league, the champion of the country with the 11th placed UEFA coefficient would go through into the Champions League group stage; if not, the title holder has the right to defend the trophy. UEFA Europa League defending champions also acquire the right to compete in the Champions League group stage, without the opportunity of directly securing a play-off berth, as in the 2015–18 trade cycle agreements. If the Europa League champion automatically qualifies for the Champions League group stage via its domestic league, the third ranked team of the country with the 5th placed UEFA coefficient would replace the Europa League winner.[10][dead link]

2018 leaks

In November 2018, Football Leaks claimed that there had been undercover talks about the creation of a new continental club competition, the European Super League, which would begin play in 2021.[11]

2021: European Super League

In October 2020, Sky Sports claimed that FIFA was proposing a replacement for the UEFA Champions League called the European Premier League involving up to 18 teams in a round-robin system and post league playoff-style knockout tournament with no relegation similar to major league sports competitions in the United States.[12] English Premier League clubs as well as clubs from Spain, Italy, France, and Germany were invited. Barcelona accepted the proposal for it to join the Super League the day before its president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned.[13]

On 21 January 2021, FIFA and all six of football's continental confederations (AFC, CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, OFC, and UEFA) issued a statement rejecting the formation of any breakaway European Super League; any club or player involved in such a league would be banned from any competitions organised by FIFA or any of the six confederations.[14] The proposal nevertheless remained under discussion by clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool; the proposal document indicated that such a league would start in the 2022–23 season, with 15 permanent members including six Premier League clubs, and each club would be paid up to £310 million to join followed by up to £213 million per season.[15]

On 18 April 2021, an official press release[16] announced the formation of the league. Twelve clubs, including English clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur), Italian clubs (Inter Milan, Juventus, and Milan), and Spanish clubs (Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, and Real Madrid), were named as founding members, with a 20-team league being envisioned. The New York Times reported that each team would earn over $400 million (£290M) for entering the competition.[17] The reports generated negative reaction from UEFA and the football associations and first-tier football leagues of England, Italy, and Spain, who issued a joint statement stating that they would not allow the Super League to proceed. UEFA also reiterated that any clubs involved in a Super League would be banned from all other domestic, European, and world competitions, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.[18][19][20] French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also expressed opposition to the plan.[21][22][23] Fans also expressed opposition.[24][25] Amidst widespread opposition, participating teams began to withdraw from the Super League and it suspended its operations three days after being officially announced.[26]


The idea of a European Super League has been criticised by fans and critics, pointing out its potentially devastating effect on domestic leagues, the UEFA Champions League, and smaller clubs; it is viewed in some quarters as simply a "power grab" by bigger clubs for more money and control over football. Germany and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos criticised the plans in 2020, saying "the gap between the big clubs and small will expand even more. Everything does not always have to be faster, with more and more money".[27] Kroos' long-time team-mate Philipp Lahm wishes to see a "cosmopolitan" line-up to a potential Super League, opining: "But just as players from Istanbul, Warsaw and Bratislava get their shot in the Euros, would it not be better to include teams from Bruges, Saint Petersburg, Athens, Copenhagen and Prague in a European league?"[28] At the Financial Times' Business of Football summit in February 2021, Simon Green, the head of BT Sport, the UEFA Champions League rights holder in the UK, cautioned that a Super League "wouldn't be worth as much as the existing leagues and Champions League are at the moment."[29]

The announcement of the Super League in 2021 drew widespread opposition from fans, players, other clubs, FIFA, UEFA and national governments.[30] The Super League announced it was suspending its operations three days after being officially announced.[31]

See also


  1. ^ Mason, Nicholas (1975). Football!: The Story of All the World's Football Games. Drake Publishers. p. 24. ISBN 0-8473-1024-8.
  2. ^ King, Anthony (2003). Ashgate Publishing (ed.). The European Ritual: Football in the new Europe. Farnham, Surrey. p. 14. ISBN 0-754-63652-6.
  3. ^ "Football: Uefa winning 'super league' war". The Independent. London. 24 October 1998.
  4. ^ Hytner, David (17 August 2009). "European super league will be here in 10 years, says Arsène Wenger". The Guardian. London.
  5. ^ "BBC - Chris Bevan: Seedorf predicts the shape of football's future". BBC. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  6. ^ Ziegler, Martyn; Esplin, Ronnie (10 April 2013). "Celtic and Rangers will join European super league, says Scotland manager Gordon Strachan". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Real Madrid's Florentino Perez reveals 'European Super League' ambition". The Daily Telegraph. London. 5 July 2009.
  8. ^ a b "Real president calls for European super league". The Times. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Could Stephen Ross Pave The Way For a European Super League?". The Big Lead. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  10. ^ "Media releases - Media –". UEFA. 26 August 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Football Leaks claims Euro Super League talks held by clubs". BBC. BBC Sport. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  12. ^ Kleinman, Mark (20 October 2020). "European Premier League: Liverpool and Manchester United in talks for FIFA-backed tournament". Sky Sports. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigns". BBC. 27 October 2020.
  14. ^ Conn, David (21 January 2021). "Players and clubs threatened with ban if they join European Super League". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Ziegler, Martyn (21 January 2021). "European Super League would have six Premier League - each paid £310m to join". The Times.
  16. ^ "Comunicado Oficial: Los principales clubes europeos de fútbol anuncian la nueva Superliga" (in Spanish). Real Madrid. 18 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  17. ^ Panja, Tariq (18 April 2021). "Top European Soccer Teams Agree to Join Breakaway League". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Statement by UEFA, the English Football Association, the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), LaLiga, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A". UEFA. 18 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  19. ^ "Communiqué de la FFF et de la LFP". LFP (in French). Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  20. ^ Seifret, Christian [@DFL_Official] (18 April 2021). "DFL CEO Christian Seifert on rumoured Super League concept" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ "European super league plans would be 'very damaging' for football, says Boris Johnson". Sky News. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Boris Johnson says breakaway European Super League plans 'very damaging' for football". The Independent. 18 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  23. ^ "Macron slams breakaway European football 'super league' plan". Politico. 18 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Soccer Fans React To The New 'Super League' News". The Spun. 18 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  25. ^ "FSE Condemns European Super League Plans". Footbal Supporter Europe. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  26. ^ "Super League suspended: Why English clubs pulled out, and what's next for them and UEFA". 21 April 2021. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  27. ^ "Toni Kroos opposes European Super League". Marca. Unidad Editorial. 11 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  28. ^ Lahm, Philipp (8 April 2021). "A bigger, more diverse European super league can help enrich football". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  29. ^ Evans, Simon (17 February 2021). "European Super League less valuable to broadcasters than current model, BT Sport chief insists". The Independent. Independent Digital News & Media. Reuters. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  30. ^ Harris, Daniel; Ingle, Sean (20 April 2021). "European Super League: backlash builds against breakaway plan – live!". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  31. ^ Panja, Tariq; Smith, Rory (22 April 2021). "How the Super League Fell Apart". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 May 2021.


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