Paris (AFP)

Earthquake in European football: twelve major clubs on Monday formalized the launch of their "Super League", a private competition dedicated to supplanting the Champions League, a declaration of war to which UEFA has promised to respond by excluding dissident teams and their players.

After years of shaking the specter of a schism, the top leaders of the continent have finally taken the plunge with Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, ​​Liverpool or Manchester United at their head, all multiple winners of the C1 and major brands. planetary.

"Twelve of the most important European clubs announce that they have reached an agreement for the creation of a new competition, + The Super League +, governed by its founding clubs. AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, ​​Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham have united as founding clubs ", we can read in a press release sent to AFP and also distributed by the websites of several clubs concerned.

"The inaugural season (...) will start as soon as possible", continues the text, without setting a precise timetable.

This project, explain its promoters, is dedicated to "generate additional resources for the whole football pyramid".

"In return for their commitment, the founding clubs will receive a one-off payment of around 3.5 billion euros intended solely for infrastructure investments and to offset the impact of the Covid-19 crisis", continues the press release.

If this figure is confirmed, it assumes revenues much higher than those obtained by UEFA for all of its club competitions (Champions League, Europa League and European Supercup), which had generated 3.2 billion dollars. euros in TV revenue in 2018-2019, before a pandemic which severely affected the European sports rights market.

- League almost closed -

The king sport in Europe therefore sees its future appear in dotted lines, as does the current pyramid system of redistribution of television resources between the C1, the flagship competition, and the national championships, to which the rebel clubs claim, it seems- it, substituting a controversial near-closed league system comparable to the North American basketball (NBA) or American football (NFL) championships.

According to its promoters, the "Super League" would operate in the form of a regular season between 20 clubs, fifteen of them ("the founding clubs") being automatically qualified each year and the other five benefiting from invitations " through a system based on their performance from the previous season ".

At the end of this first phase starting in August, end of season play-offs would be organized until May to award the trophy.

It remains to be seen what responses UEFA, headlong, and Fifa, less advanced on the subject, will bring to this attempt at secession.

The European body, in a statement co-signed by several national championships, had previously warned Sunday that any dissident club would be excluded from national and international competitions, and that their players could no longer play in the national team, for example at the Euro or at the World Cup.

It will be necessary to see whether this threat complies with European competition law, which suggests a possible legal battle.

The launch of this "Super League" comes as UEFA convened its Executive Committee on Monday (09h00 / 07h00 GMT) to endorse an overhaul of its Champions League by 2024.

© 2021 AFP