Civil war has broken out within European football after a dramatic power grab by the biggest clubs.
The Premier League's Big Six – Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea – have been heavily involved in a clandestine plot which threatens to blow football apart.
Fans are in uproar, outraged by what they see as blatant greed while football’s governing bodies have expressed their anger and even the Government condemned the plan as a “closed shop.”
The timing is perhaps the most devilish thing about the whole plot because UEFA were due to announce their own new-look 36 team Champions League on Monday.
It has been clear for weeks that not all clubs are on board as bitter rows have broken out between Europe’s top clubs – also including Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona and AC Milan – and UEFA.
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli is the driving force of the breakaway plot as he is also chairman of the highly influential European Club Association.
Last month, the ECA caused UEFA to postpone another announcement over their plans for a post-2024 breakaway European league.
Now they have blown UEFA out of the water again – and do not expect them to back down or show any sort of remorse for doing so.
They knew exactly what they were doing because as the weeks and months have gone by, they have become increasingly annoyed by UEFA trying to rush ahead amid fears there would be a public announcement of an agreement – even though there was no such thing.
What Agnelli has failed to do so far is publicly explain why the big clubs feel they have been driven to this.
And they feel if the fans truly understood then their accusations of greed would be turned on UEFA rather than the clubs.
The row centres over the clubs wanting a greater share of the commercial rights, the TV deal and they believe UEFA should primarily be the competition’s regulator not the commercial partner.
The clubs are annoyed that UEFA take such a huge slice of profits when it is the clubs, on the back of a crippling pandemic, who are taking all of the risk by buying the players, putting on all of the spectacular games and they are the ones selling the tickets.
They have backed down from initial plans to include more clubs based on coefficients – qualifying by previous European success – and also reaching the next year’s Champions League merely by getting through the knock-out stages.
But they feel as if UEFA are not meeting them halfway, they are not involving them in discussions – and yet want to pocket all of the rewards.
In their eyes, it is UEFA being greedy.
The clubs have yet to reach agreement with UEFA on Financial Fair Play, domestic and international match calendar as well as fixtures for the Europa League and European Conference League.
They also want agreements on FFP and other issues before moving forward on the new format from 2024 and want more consultation from UEFA who currently take all the decisions.
Put simply, the big clubs want UEFA to be the regulators rather than the commercial partners.
But now the ECA and the super clubs appear to have lost the PR battle and the fans see them as the greedy ones.
Government Minister Oliver Dowden called it: “Deeply troubling and damaging for football.”
Fans went one step further as the Football Supporters Association said: “The FSA is totally opposed to the proposals which seek to create a breakaway ‘European Superleague.’
“The motivation behind this so-called superleague is not furthering sporting merit or nurturing the world’s game – it is motivated by nothing but cynical greed.
“This competition is being created behind our backs by billionaire club owners who have zero regard for the game’s traditions and continue to treat football as their personal fiefdom.
“The FSA, and no doubt supporters across the continent, will continue to fight against its creation.”
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