Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham are among 12 clubs who have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL).
The six Premier League clubs will be joined by AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid. Three more clubs could join for the inaugural season which will commence “as soon as practicable”.
The new format has been put forward as a rival to the UEFA Champions League, not as a replacement to domestic leagues, but there are fears it could have wider ramifications.
FIFA and the European Club Association (ECA) have also criticised the creation of a breakaway competition.
A statement from the European Super League read: “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its Founding Clubs.
“AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid CF and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as Founding Clubs. It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.
- 20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
- Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.
- An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals.
- Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.