Football: Man United and Liverpool in talks to join new European super league, says report

Manchester United players arrive for their English Premier League match Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Oct 4, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Manchester United and Liverpool are in talks with Europe's elite clubs to join a new Fifa-backed tournament that would reshape the sport's global football landscape according to a report by Sky News on Tuesday (Oct 20).

Citing unnamed "football industry" sources, Sky said more than 12 teams from Europe's top five leagues - in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - are in negotiations to become the founding members of the new tournament, dubbed the European Premier League, with a provisional start date as discussed as early as 2022.

The report added the financiers are looking to raise a US$6 billion (S$8.14 billion) funding package to kick-start the new tournament.

Manchester United declined to comment on the report, while Liverpool did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fifa, football's world governing body, is working on a new format, which is expected to see 18 teams playing fixtures during regular European season, Sky said, adding that neither Fifa nor continental body Uefa had commented on the story. Reuters has approached both organisations for a reaction and neither immediately responded.

The top-placed teams in the league would then qualify for the knockout stages which will conclude the tournament.

Wall Street bank JPMorgan is in talks to provide US$6 billion of debt financing to help launch the European Premier League, with the funds repayable from potential broadcast income generated by the tournament.

The idea of a European super league has been regularly floated over the last 20 years, with Uefa coming out strongly against it as it will hurt revenues from the Champions League and Europa League.

In December, 2018, German magazine Der Spiegel, citing leaked document, said that it had discovered plans driven by Real Madrid in conjunction with other European top clubs, for the creation of a breakaway league.

Following that report, the European Leagues group (EL), which represents 25 domestic leagues including England's Premier League, Germany's Bundesliga and Spain's La Liga, voiced its "strong opposition" to any such plan.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has been a strong opponent of a so-called "Super League".

The governing body is working with the European Club Association (ECA), whose members includes Europe's biggest clubs, to redesign the Champions League from 2024 onwards, although no concrete plans have emerged.

In February 2019, Ceferin said there would be no Super League as long as he was Uefa chief and Andrea Agnelli was the head of the European Club Association.

"It's not a promise, it's a fact," he added.

The news follows the leaking of 'Project Big Picture', a proposal backed by United and Liverpool, for radical change of English football was rejected by a meeting of Premier League clubs last week.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.