European Super League: An explainer on how the new tournament will work

A joint statement from twelve founding clubs announced their intentions to revamp football with the European Super League.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez. (Image: Twitter)
By Shayne Dias | Apr 19, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us


The European Super League is here. Mooted for a while but seen as nothing more than a doomsday scenario, it suddenly became reality on Sunday (April 18). A joint statement from twelve founding clubs announced their intentions to revamp the European football structure. Should it go through, it will be the biggest change in the history of the game. However, it is worth noting that the idea hasn’t yet been put into practice. There remain logistical hurdles, most notably from UEFA, who are in danger of losing their biggest cash cow: the Champions League. The governing body has promised to fight the creation of the European Super League.

But, should it come to fruition, how exactly would this league work? Here we analyse what the new tournament would look like.

Who are the founding members?

AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs.

How many teams will play in the tournament and what is the format?

The league will consist of 20 members – 15 founders, with three more yet to join and 5 who will qualify on the basis of league performances.

The format would be slightly different from the Champions League. There would be midweek fixtures with all participating clubs wanting to compete in their respective national leagues.

Teams will be split into two groups of 10 and will play home and away fixtures. The top three in each group automatically qualify for the quarterfinals.

But teams finishing fourth and fifth compete in a two-legged play-off for the last two positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used till the final at the end of May. In turn, the final will be a single fixture at a neutral venue.

Who are the notable absentees?

Major clubs from Germany and France. Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain were expected to be the remaining three founding clubs.

However, Bayern spoke out against the Super League – and indeed, even Champions League reforms. PSG, meanwhile, said they won’t partake in this tournament.

What are the possible ramifications these clubs face?

Many. UEFA intend fighting this using any means, even if that means going to court. Meanwhile, the Premier League and La Liga executives have spoken out strongly against this development.

Various news reports have suggested that these clubs will be barred from their respective domestic leagues. There’s also talks of barring Super League club players from representing their country – or indeed another team in a domestic league.

What about the money involved?

It’s a lot. “Founding clubs will receive an amount of EUR 3.5bn solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the Covid pandemic,” the statement from the clubs read.

There’s also mention of “solidarity payments” worth €10 billion “during the course of the initial commitment period of the clubs.”

That’s not even counting how much money could come from a TV/streaming deal.

What has the reaction of the football world been?

Overwhelmingly negative. Some supporters have declared this ‘the death of football’ on social media. Many prominent names – whether ex-players or journalists – have also slammed the idea.

Most agree that this tournament will lead to the decline or death of the current football pyramid.



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