1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

European Super League: Project is dead, Agnelli admits

April 21, 2021

The European Super League project is dead, its founder Andrea Agnelli has admitted. Twelve teams had agreed to join a breakaway Super League but plans collapsed when all six English clubs withdrew. Here is the latest.

Juventus chairman and founder of the doomed European Super League, Andrea Agnelli
Juventus chairman and founder of the doomed European Super League, Andrea AgnelliImage: Fabio Ferrari /LaPresse/imago images



Super League is dead, admits Agnelli

Breakaway European Super League founder and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said on Wednesday that the league can longer go ahead after six English clubs withdrew. They were followed by Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan on Wednesday morning.

Asked whether the project could still happen after the exits, Agnelli said: "To be frank and honest no, evidently that is not the case."

However, Agnelli seems to believe the project can continue in some form with the remaining clubs: Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, and his club, Juventus. "There is a blood pact binding our clubs together," Agnelli told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Agnelli confirmed that he would not be stepping down from his role as Juventus chairman, despite reports to the contrary. 

Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan withdraw

Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan became the latest clubs to withdraw from the European Super League fiasco on Wednesday.

Atletico, whose board of directors met on Wednesday, said it "decided to formally communicate to the Super League and the rest of the founding clubs its decision not to formalize its participation in the project.''

Inter said the club was committed to delivering the best soccer experience for fans because "innovation and inclusion have been part of our DNA since our foundation."

"Our commitment with all stakeholders to improve the football industry will never change,'' the Italian club said. 

German clubs weren't invited - Perez

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said many contentious things in his El Chiringuito appearance on Monday night but one of his claims was correct: neither Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund were invited to join the Super League prior to the founding member’s announcement on Sunday night.

Aware of the two German giants’ concerns over a breakaway move, Perez and his co-conspirators had never shown their hand to them. DW sources can confirm that Dortmund were never involved in the talks at any stage.

"Florentino’s idea was to create maximum momentum with all the clubs that were on board," a senior official from another top European club suggests. "Approaching the two German teams (and Paris Saint-Germain, who also harbored doubts) would have slowed things down and might have led to damaging leaks. You don’t start a revolution with guys who are not fully committed."

Liverpool owner issues apology

Manchester United and Spurs complete English exit

That's the full set of English clubs, and half the teams gone. Spurs, unlike their counterparts, have attributed quotes to chairman Daniel Levy, but there's not quite an apology.

“We regret the anxiety and upset caused by the ESL proposal. We felt it was important that our club participated in the development of a possible new structure that sought to better ensure financial fair play and financial sustainability whilst delivering significantly increased support for the wider football pyramid.

“We believe that we should never stand still and that the sport should constantly review competitions and governance to ensure the game we all love continues to evolve and excite fans around the world.

“We should like to thank all those supporters who presented their considered opinions.”

United's missive was very brief and mentioned that the club had "listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders."

Liverpool and Arsenal the next to go

Two more of the six English sides initially signed up for the Super League have officially announced their desire to pull out within 48 hours of its unveiling. Liverpool and Arsenal now join Manchester City, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham unlikely to be far behind.

"Liverpool Football Club can confirm that our involvement in proposed plans to form a European Super League has been discontinued," said a statement on the Liverpool website.

"In recent days, the club has received representations from various key stakeholders, both internally and externally, and we would like to thank them for their valuable contributions."

Arsenal's tweet took a more contrite tone.

12 clubs set to meet

The 12 clubs who initially wanted to break away are reportedly set to join together for a Zoom call at 23:30 CET. Sparks will surely fly.

Manchester City confirm plan to leave 

The first domino has fallen. A statement on Manchester City's website reads, in full: "Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League."

UEFA, who had appeared to be acting forcefully against any clubs that signed up, have already welcomed the English side "back in to the European football family", according to Rob Harris, of the Associated Press.

Liverpool players: 'No to Super League'

Another one bites the dust? A number of Liverpool players, including captain Jordan Henderson, have posted the tweet below. It's not entirely clear whether they are speaking for themselves or the club. But it may not matter.

Big guns gone?

Again, these are reports, but it seems as if one or two of the main protagonists in this farce may soon fall on their swords. Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will reportedly step down from his role at the end of 2021, bringing his planned departure forward a year.

There have also been suggestions that Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus president, will leave his post, but this is far from confirmed. If the league is as close to collapse as it seems, plenty of executive heads will surely have to roll.

Verge of collapse?

There are now reports coming in that Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are ready to withdraw their participation and more clubs could yet follow. The house of cards looks set to collapse.

It should be stressed that none of this is officially confirmed but signs are that the European Super League could only last a couple of days.

However, Real Madrid's Florentino Perez, one of the plan's chief architects said this earlier today: "The contract of the Super League is binding. Nobody can leave, we will work all together. All the clubs signed the contracts last Saturday, there’s no problem."

Manchester City also looking to leave — reports

It now appears Manchester City will also send notice of their intention to pull out of the Super League.

City and Chelsea, who are relative latecomers to England's financial elite, were reportedly the last clubs to be informed of plans made by the 12 to withdraw.

Chelsea to withdraw?

Various reports in England suggest Chelsea are set to pull out of the European Super League less than 48 hours after announcing they would be part of the breakaway.

There have been protests outside the London club's Stamford Bridge stadium tonight, with thousands in attendance ahead of a Premier League match with Brighton and Hove Albion.

If confirmed, the club's exit will surely put pressure on the other English outfits to follow suit.

Johnson quizzed on 50+1 at Downing Street briefing

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier promised "to do everything possible" to block the European Super League. And he's now been asked about German football's 50+1 model in his daily press briefing.

Johnson didn't answer the question directly but said his sports minister Tracey Crouch was interested in the idea and would cover it in an upcoming review.

You'd have got long odds on 50+1 coming up in that context on Saturday, but here we are. There's a bit of background on how it all works in the video below.

Spanish court rules that FIFA and UEFA can't stop breakaway

18:18 CET Press agency Reuters is reporting that a Spanish commercial court has set down a preliminary ruling that states FIFA and UEFA, must not prevent the 12 clubs forming a Super League.

The court reportedly said that FIFA, UEFA and all its associated federations must not adopt "any measure that prohibits, restricts, limits or conditions in any way" the creation of the Super League.

However, it is not clear what authority, if any, this courts has in such matters and this could just be another episode in what is certain to be a legal saga.

"We are entering a phoney war, where the two camps are digging their trenches and preparing for the legal attacks to come," said Antoine Duval, a European sports law expert at the Asser Institute in The Hague to AFP earlier on.

Bayern Munich: 'Our fans reject a Super League'

16:15 CEST — Bayern Munich have released a statement cementing their opposition to the European Super League.

"Our members and fans reject a Super League," Bayern President Herbert Hainer said. "As Bayern, it is our wish and our aim that European clubs live the wonderful and emotional competition that is the Champions League, and develop it together with UEFA. Bayern says no to the Super League."

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: "For Bayern, the Champions League is the best club competition in the world.” 

Super League 'good for football' says AC Milan CEO

15:57 CEST — Ivan Gazidis, CEO of AC Milan, one of the participants of the proposed Super League has claimed it will be "good for football".

"We're confident that this new competition will capture the imagination of billions of soccer fans all over the world and will be a new, exciting chapter for the game," Gazidis wrote in a letter to Milan's sponsors and commercial partners.

"The Super League will provide value and support to the whole soccer pyramid with greater financial resources."

Jordan Henderson to lead meeting of Premier League captains

15:08 CEST — Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has called for an emergency meeting of the six captains of the English clubs set to join the breakaway Super League.

Henderson will be joined by Manchester United's Harry Maguire, Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne, Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta, Tottenham Hotspur's Hugo Lloris and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang via video call to discuss their options, which includes striking.

Liverpool's James Milner has already expressed his opposition to the project.

Al-Khelaifi: 'European football is at a pivotal moment'

14:55 CEST — Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Paris Saint-Germain chairman and CEO — and now one of the ECA's representatives on the UEFA Executive committee — has called on UEFA to "advance the existing UEFA competition model".

"European football is at a pivotal moment, in which all stakeholders should work together; in good faith, with dignity, and to protect the game we all love.

"We believe that any proposal without the support of UEFA — an organisation that has been working to progress the interests of European football for nearly 70 years — does not resolve the issues currently facing the football community, but is instead driven by self-interest.

"PSG holds the firm belief that football is a game for everyone. I have been consistent on this since the very beginning."

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino has also been asked about the Super League plans. 

Rummenigge and Al-Khelaifi confirmed in ECA roles

14:00 CEST — Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and and Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi have been confirmed as the new representatives of the European Club Association (ECA) on the UEFA board, both signing three-year terms. This move solidifies Bayern and PSG's opposition to the European Super League. 

Boris Johnson could use 'legislative bomb' to block Super League

13:17 CEST — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged "to do everything possible" to block the European Super League, including introducing legislation if the English Football Association's (FA) legal action against it fails.

In an online meeting with the heads of the FA, Premier League and fans' groups from Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, Johnson said they all had his "unwavering support" with Downing Street stating that Johnson "was clear that no action is off the table and the government is exploring every possibility, including legislative options, to ensure these proposals are stopped”.

Johnson is believed to have added that the UK government will consider using " a legislative bomb" to stop English clubs joining the Super League. However, the Downing Street spokesman was unable to offer further clarity on exactly what legislative action could be taken.

In a further meeting with the Arsenal Supporters Trust, Johnson was told of Arsenal fans' "overwhelming opposition" to the project. Johnson responded by promising that the UK government's review of football governence would be swift and that it would explore how much influence fans have in their clubs in England and whether something like the German 50+1 model of fan ownership could be introduced. 

Report of a split between English clubs

13:02 CEST — A split has emerged between the six English 'founding clubs' of the European Super League.

One of the big six English clubs is now seriously considering pulling out of the project, accusing Liverpool and Manchester United — the two clubs leading the breakaway — of lying to them and "f***ing up".

That's according to POLITICO.

Schweinsteiger: 'Super League would destroy football as we know it'

Max Eberl: 'A league for the super indebted'

12:09 CEST — Borussia Mönchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl has renwed his criticism of the Super League, specifically in response to the comments of Florentino Perez on late-night TV on Monday (see Perez's comments below).

"Yesterday was a decisive day for football," Eberl said. "Sport consists of competition. One can qualify for something through performance. The planned Super League is an absolute no-go. The clubs are immensely in debt and are now trying to save their asses. "

"I don't know whether this is the club of the super-rich, or rather the club of the super-indebted," he added.

FIFA's Infantino threatens ESL clubs with 'consequences'

11:43 CEST — The clubs that have signed up to the European Super League will be hit with sanctions, FIFA president Gianni Infantino pledged at the UEFA congress on Tuesday morning.

"At FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove the creation of a Super League which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA."

What sanctions UEFA, or national leagues, could take, remains unclear and would certainly meet legal challenges. UEFA president Aleksander
Ceferin, however, said on Monday that players could be excluded from national teams and clubs in the breakaway could face domestic penalties.

Infantino suggested that there would not be a compromise where clubs could play in their private competition but remain part of the current structure.

"If some elect to go their own way, then they must live with the consequences of their choice," Infantino said. "Concretely, this means either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in or half out." 

Rummenigge: 'Super League damages all of European football'

10:24 CEST — Bayern Munich chief executive Karl Heinz-Rummenigge has further strengthened his club's opposition to a breakaway Super League.

"We are not involved because we do not want to be a part of it," he told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"We are happy to play in the Champions League and we cannot forget the responsibility we have to our supporters, who are fundamentally against such a reform. And we feel a responsibility to football as a whole."

Rummenigge added it was "important that we resume a dialogue. My hope is that we can still find a solution because the Super League damages all of European football. We must prevent that."

Regarding losses incurred during the pandemic, he reiterated what he said in an official Bayern Munich statement on Monday, saying: "The solution cannot be to always make more and pay the players and agents more."

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich's organized supporters have also voiced their opposition, as DW's Matt Ford reports:

Perez: Super League is a league 'to save football'

08:57 CEST — Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, has described the Super League as the way to 'save football' and that 'it is not a league for the rich'.

Speaking on late-night Spanish TV, Perez made some astonishing claims, including that it wouldn't be "a league for the rich.

"The Super League is not a closed league, it’s absolutely not true. Whoever wins the five available spots will be able to play with the other best teams in the world," he said.

"Audiences are decreasing and rights are decreasing and something had to be done. We are all ruined. Television has to change so we can adapt."

"Young people are no longer interested in football. Why not? Because there are a lot of poor quality games and they are not interested, they have other platforms on which to distract themselves.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez
Real Madrid president Perez: 'The Super League is not a closed league, it’s absolutely not true'Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Lucapierregiovanni

"If we continue with the Champions League there is less and less interest and then it’s over,” he said. “The new format, which starts in 2024 is absurd…In 2024 we are all dead."

Perez went on to suggest that the system needed reform because of the big losses currently being made by his club, Real Madrid.

"Together we have lost 5 billion euros," he said of the top clubs' alleged losses. “In two seasons Madrid have lost 400 million.

"When you have no income other than television, you say that the solution is to make more attractive matches that fans from all over the world can see with all the big clubs and we came to the conclusion that if instead of having a Champions League we have a Super League we would be able to alleviate what we have lost.

"This is not a league for the rich, it’s a league to save football."


DFB & DFL: 'Solidarity not selfishness'

The German Football Association (DFB) and German Football League (DFL) released a joint statement on Monday evening condemning the plans for a European Super League and throwing its support behind UEFA and other national leagues and federations.

"The DFB and DFL acknowledge the foundation of a Super League with great shock," read a statement. "We stand in solidarity with UEFA and President Ceferin. Simultaneously, we also support all countermeasures by FIFA, UEFA and the affected national leagues and federations – well aware that the positions of German national team players under contract at Super League clubs could be affected."

The statement continued: "We cannot allow the financial interests of a few top clubs in England, Spain and Italy to abolish the established structures. Football in Europe thrives on the idea that it theoretically possible for any club to test themselves against the best. This dream must not be replaced by what is effectively a closed league."

Instead, the DFB and DFL stated their support for UEFA's Champions League reforms, saying: "These reforms were an offer to the top clubs to come together under UEFA – a painful compromise in some places. But this offer has been rejected, with an obvious motivation."

They conclude: "Especially given the global COVID-19 crisis, it ought to be clear what football should stand for: solidarity not selfishness."

Rummenigge: 'Bayern not involved in plans'

Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has released the following statement, seemingly confirming the German champions' rejection of the European Super League proposals:

"FC Bayern were not involved in the plans for a Super League. We are convinced that the current format in football guarantees a reliable basis.

"FC Bayern welcomes the reforms to the Champions League and we believe that this is the right step for the development of European football. The modified group stage will bring more excitement and emotion to the competition.

"I do not believe that the Super League will solve the financial problems of European clubs caused by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, all clubs in Europe should act in solidarity to ensure that cost structures, especially player wages and agents' fees, are adjusted to match revenues, in order to shape European football more rationally."

Rummenigge earlier replaced Juventus' Andrea Agnelli on UEFA's executive committee, after the Italian backed the Super League move (see below).

Remaining clubs set for talks, Tuchel in the dark

Reports from England and Spain suggest the top flight clubs, aside from those breaking away, are set to meet in the coming days to discuss the ramifications of the proposed new league.

Meanwhile, Chelsea's German coach Thomas Tuchel admitted he knew nothing of his club's involvement in the breakaway until the day news broke.

"I've known since yesterday [Sunday] but I am here to be in the hardest competition, it's why I came here, to play the toughest competitions in Europe," Tuchel told reporters.

"I am part of this club and I trust this club to make the right decisions. I think it's too early to judge everything and it's not my part."

German FA and League take stand against Super League

Germany's two main football bodies, the DFB (Football Association) and DFL (Football League), have released a joint statement opposing the Super League.

"We stand in solidarity with UEFA and President Aleksander Ceferin," it reads. "At the same time, we support all the countermeasures announced by FIFA and UEFA, but also by the national leagues and associations concerned. We are aware that this could also affect the selection of German national team players under contract with Super League clubs."

As well as standing behind UEFA, the organizations spoke to a loss of perspective concerning the game's roots and spirit and called for togetherness.

"Football in Europe thrives on the fact that it is theoretically possible for every club to compete with the best on the continent. This dream must not be replaced by an almost closed society. National leagues are the basis for professional football, its popularity and the way it radiates throughout society." 

Rummenigge replaces Agnelli at UEFA

In what looks a highly significant move, Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has been named as Andrea Agnelli's replacement on UEFA's Executive Committee after Agnelli backed the Super League.

The German, who will stand down from Bayern at the end of this season, has previously voiced his opposition to a Super League and this appointment further suggests Bayern are throwing their weight behind UEFA.

A number of German clubs in the Bundesliga and beyond have condemned the breakaway plans.

'Snakes close to us'

More from that explosive speech from Ceferin. 

"If I start with Ed Woodward, he called me last Thursday evening saying he’s very satisfied with and fully supports the reforms and the only thing he wanted to talk about was FFP [Financial Fair Play rules], when obviously he had already signed something else.

"Andrea Agnelli is the biggest disappointment of all, I’ve never seen a person that would lie so many times, so persistently as he did. It’s unbelievable.

"We might have been naive in not knowing we have snakes close to us. Now we know. There will be legal action soon."

UEFA chief: Players who break away won't play World Cup

Aleksander Ceferin, the president of UEFA, has doubled down on his promise to punish players who join the Super League. A furious Ceferin called it a "disgraceful self-serving proposal", a "spit in the face of all football lovers" and warned players that they will face bans if they follow their clubs in to the new competition.

"My opinion is that as soon as possible they [the clubs] have to be banned from all our competitions and the players from all our competitions," Ceferin said, while also launching attacks on many of the architects of the breakaway, including Manchester United's Ed Woodward and Andrea Agnelli of Juventus.

UEFA organize the Champions League, Europa League, European World Cup qualifiers and various other continental competitions. Ceferin also said UEFA is looking in to its legal options.

Gladbach join German rejection

Following on from RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach have confirmed they have no interest in joining the breakaway. They also suggest such sentiment applies to "all German clubs."

Union: Players used as leverage

FIFPRO, the global union for football players, have joined the swell of criticism of the breakaway plans. 

"Players continue to be used as assets and leverage in these negotiations. This is unacceptable for FIFPRO, our 64 national player associations and the 60,000 players we represent. We will vigorously oppose measures by either side that would impede the rights of players, such as exclusion from their national teams," a statement on the organization's website said.

FIFA have not yet said players at the breakaway clubs will not be allowed to play for their countries, but it is one of multiple potential scenarios.

Players and coaches have their say

Still no official word from Bayern Munich, but their head coach Hansi Flick was asked about the breakaway in his press conference.

"I currently have other topics that concern me. I don't know all the details, but I can only stand behind the club and Borussia Dortmund. It's not good for football," said Flick, who wants to leave Bayern at the end of the season.

Players plying their trade away from the breakaway clubs have also started to express their views, with Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Ander Herrera echoing the thoughts of many fans.

"I love football and cannot remain silent about this. I believe in an improved Champions League, but not in the rich stealing what the people created, which is nothing other than the most beautiful sport on the planet," the Spanish midfielder tweeted.

Former Germany international Mesut Özil struck a similar note.

Legal challenges ahead?

News agency PA are reporting that the ESL have sent a letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino and UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin, suggesting it is also prepared to take legal action.

"We are concerned that FIFA and UEFA may respond to this invitation letter by seeking to take punitive measures to exclude any participating club or player from their respective competitions," the letter reportedly read. 

Elsewhere, Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper suggested that a mostly closed Super League could violate European Union laws which protect the current format of football, a suggestion backed by Porto (see below).

Porto rejected invite

Porto president Pinto da Costa has confirmed the Portuguese champions rejected an approach from the European Super League.

"There were informal contacts from some clubs, but we didn't pay much attention for two reasons. The first is that the European Union does not allow a closed circuit of events like in the NBA, for example," he said.

"As the Portuguese Football Federation is against this, and as part of UEFA, we cannot participate in anything that is against the principles and rules of the European Union and UEFA."

The 2004 Champions League winners had been touted in some quarters as one of the three clubs the new competition said they would add.

German fan group join chorus of disapproval

Fan groups across Europe, particularly those of the 12 clubs involved, have been near-universal in their criticism of the Super League. And Unsere Kurve, a fan group representing German supporters across all clubs, have not held back in a recently released statement.

It says they accept the stances of the DFB and UEFA against the Super League proposals, but lament that it's all come too late.

"What we would have done to hear all these words much earlier. Enough is enough? That has been true for us for a long time! The Super League is only the tip of the iceberg. For far too long, the federations have stood by and watched the actions of some officials and European clubs," a statement on its website read.

"We say: Stop it now! The behavior of these clubs must finally be stopped! The associations must take immediate action to ensure fair competition with integrity," the statement continued. "Serious concepts for fundamental reforms in football have been presented by fans for months."

Unsere Kurve also called on UEFA to withdraw its Champions League reforms.

RB Leipzig also not involved

With German clubs intitially absent from the European Super League plans, the common assumption is that the two candidates would be Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Yet RB Leipzig are currently second in the Bundesliga, and reached the semifinal of last season's Champions League, while backers Red Bull are certainly not averse to marketing opportunities.

However, according to Sky Deutschland, RB Leipzig will not be part of the Super League.

UEFA vote through Champions League reforms from 2024

While the 12 breakaway clubs continue with their plans for a Super League outside of UEFA, European football's governing body has continued with its own plans to reform the Champions League.

At the meeting of the body's executive committee on Monday morning, it was confirmed that the competition will have a new format as of 2024, with the group stage replaced by a "Swiss model" league of 36 teams. Presumably without the breakaway Super League clubs.

According to Tariq Panja of The New York Times, Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi was among those who voted in favor.

Borussia Dortmund statement

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke released a statement on Monday morning, reiterating the position of the European Club Association (ECA) board on Sunday night:

"The members of the ECA board met virtually on Sunday night and agreed that the board decision of the previous Friday still stands," said Watzke. "The decision was that the clubs want to implement the the planned Champions League reforms. The members of the ECA board were of the clear opinion that they reject the plans to form a Super League."

He added: "The two German clubs on the ECA board, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, have been entirely of the same opinion in all discussions."

It should be noted that not all of the 12 breakaway clubs, which are also on the ECA board, attended Sunday night's meeting. Those that did reportedly remained silent.

The Super League

European football's governing body, UEFA, was plunged into crisis on Sunday after  12 clubs announced they were going to join a European Super League.

"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," read a statement from the founding clubs: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus

No German or French clubs have committed to take part at this stage, with reigning European champions Bayern Munich, current Champions League semifinalists Paris Saint-Germain and German giants Borussia Dortmund the surprise absentees from the list, although the statement added: "It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable."

The 12 founders stated that the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic was a reason behind the groundbreaking move, saying: "The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model.

"Further, for a number of years, the founding clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis."

The proposed league will be underwritten by debt financing from American bank JP Morgan, which helped facilitate the takeover of Manchester United by the Glazer family in 2005 — now one of the key drivers behing the Super League.

"Founding clubs will receive an amount of €3.5 billion [$4.2 billion] solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic," read the statement. "The new annual tournament will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football."

'Cynical project'

The 12 breakaway clubs said that they "look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole." European and world governing bodies slammed the plans in a robust response, threatening to expel any team that joins a Super League from all competition.

"The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams," a statement read. 

That was followed by joint statement from UEFA, the Premier League, the English Football Association, La Liga and Serie A, which described the formation of a Super League as a "cynical project founded on the self-interest of a few clubs."

World governing body FIFA also expressed it's "disapproval" of the plans, saying in a statement: "Any football competition, whether national, regional or global, should always reflect the core principles of solidarity, inclusivity, integrity and equitable financial redistribution.

"Against this background, FIFA can only express its disapproval to a 'closed European breakaway league' outside of the international football structures and not respecting the aforementioned principles."

'DFL do not agree'

German clubs Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were not among the 12 founder clubs, despite being invited. Although the two clubs have yet to comment, Christian Seifert, CEO of the German Football Association (DFL), reacted to the news via a statement, condemning the announcement as a threat to "destroy the structures of European football."

"The DFL do not agree with any concept of a Super League," Seifert wrote. "The economic interests of big clubs in England, Spain and Italy cannot destroy the structures that exist in the whole of European football. 

"In particular, it would be irresponsible to irreparably damage the national leagues of European professional football in this way. I therefore support the joint decision of UEFA and the national leagues of England, Spain and Italy."

'Driven by greed'

Some of football's biggest names, supporter groups and even the British and French governments stated their opposition to the plans.

Former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, told Reuters that a super league would be "a move away from 70 years of European club football. Fans all over love the competition as it is, I'm not sure if Manchester United are involved in this, as I am not part of the decision making process."

"The closed shop competition will be the final nail in the coffin of European football, forsaking everything that has made it so popular and successful — sporting merit, promotion and relegation, qualification to UEFA competitions via domestic success, and financial solidarity," a statement by Football Supporters of Europe read.

"It's illegitimate, irresponsible, and anti-competitive by design [...] it is driven exclusively by greed."

British Culture Minister Oliver Dowden echoed the sentiment that any Super League creates a "closed shop" and takes the game further away from fans.

"Football supporters are the heartbeat of our national sport and any major decisions made should have their backing," the statement read. "With many fans, we are concerned that this plan could create a closed shop at the very top of our national game. Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that undermines this is deeply troubling and damaging for football."

How will it work?

In their statement, the 12 founder clubs outlined the new format for their Super League, which they envisage will feature three more founder members (potentially Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain) plus five more teams, the criteria for which are yet to be confirmed.

The 20 teams will compete in two groups of 10, playing matches home and away, with the top three from each progressing to a knockout stage. The teams who finish fourth and fifth will compete to determine the final two teams in the quarterfinals.

The knockout stage will be a standard two-legged format with the final to be a single game at a neutral venue.

The founder members would like their competition to begin as early as August, with games taking place mid-week. For clarity: These clubs would leave the Champions League, but they do still wish to compete in their national leagues — a situation which is now likely to lead to legal action.

And what about UEFA?

The news of the breakaway Super League came on Sunday night, just nine hours before UEFA's Executive Committee was due to meet to sign off on plans for equally controversial Champions League reforms, which would see the current group stage scrapped and replaced by a so-called "Swiss Model."

Plans by elite clubs for a Super League had long been considered a strategy to squeeze further favorable concessions out of UEFA in the Champions League. 

Whether UEFA still goes ahead with its reforms given that 12 of its top clubs have broken away, remains to be seen.