Arsene Wenger labels European Super League ‘a bad idea’ and urges football to ‘stay united’ after breakaway bombshell – but also predicts plans ‘will not go far’ amid threats from UEFA and the Premier League
- Six Premier League clubs have signed up to the controversial new Super League
- The new breakaway competition has threatened to tear modern football apart
- Arsene Wenger says the Super League is a ‘bad idea’ and has called for unity
- Former Arsenal boss Wenger had predicted a similar competition a decade ago
Arsene Wenger has hit out at the controversial European Super League proposals threatening to rip football apart – and urged the sport to ‘stay united’.
The Premier League ‘Big Six’, along with the largest clubs in Italy and Spain, announced their intention to take part in the new competition in a bombshell move which triggered a wave of condemnation and dismay on Sunday.
A number of high-profile figures working within the sport, ranging from former managers to current players, have since voiced their disgust. Now, Wenger has shared his own similarly withering opinion.
Arsene Wenger has hit out at the controversial proposals for the new European Super League
Wenger, FIFA’s head of global development, spoke to Jim White and Simon Jordan live on talkSPORT today.
‘I would say that’s a bad idea,’ Wenger said. ‘Football has to stay united, it’s the most important thing.
‘It’s based on sporting merit and overall to respect the history that has been built from European football.’
Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid chief, will be the president of the breakaway competition
Manchester United co-owner Joel Glazer (left) and Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli (right) have been named as vice-chairmen of the Super League
But despite initially predicting the formation of a new tournament, similar in concept to the new Super League, back in 2009, Wenger believes the idea ‘will not go far’.
He added: ‘I don’t know what exactly is behind (it). There is a more dangerous idea behind it and it’s a big threat for the Premier League.
‘When I was still in charge it was a lot going on from other countries to diminish the dominance of the Premier League and a project like that would certainly accelerate that.’
Legendary coach Wenger, 71, was memorably in charge of Arsenal, who are one of the first 12 clubs to join the Super League, between 1996 and 2018.
Perez (left) and Agnelli (centre), two Super League chiefs, are pictured at an event in 2017
Wenger predicted a new competition, which would see clubs break away, almost a decade ago
Sir Alex Ferguson has also waded into the fierce debate to savage the competition.
‘Talk of a Super League is a move away from 70 years of European club football,’ the former Manchester United boss told Reuters.
‘Both as a player for a provincial team Dunfermline in the 60s and as a manager at Aberdeen winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup, for a small provincial club in Scotland it was like climbing Mount Everest.
‘Everton are spending £500million to build a new stadium with the ambition to play in Champions League.
Sir Alex Ferguson insisted that the Super League move goes against 70 years of club football
‘Fans all over love the competition as it is. In my time at United, we played in four Champions League finals and they were always the most special of nights.’
The Super League has been tabled as a midweek competition, with the expectation that participating clubs would still be in action in their respective domestic leagues.
It is currently uncertain whether the ‘Big Six’ would be able to keep their Premier League status, however, with the threat that they may have to fully break away to take part in the Super League looming large.
The Premier League indicated in a letter sent out to top-flight clubs over the weekend that it would not sanction the proposed new tournament.
UEFA have condemned the Super League and warned member clubs that action will be taken (pictured: UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin)
UEFA, meanwhile, have also vehemently condemned the Super League and warned the member clubs that severe action may be taken against them.
This could see them barred from all domestic and European competitions, and players may also be prevented from representing their countries.
AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid have also signed up to the tournament.
SUPER LEAGUE FULL STATEMENT AND COMPETITION FORMAT
Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today [Sunday] 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, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid 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. Going forward, the Founding Clubs 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.
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 pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid.
In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions. The Founding Clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.
• 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.
As soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition, a corresponding women’s league will also be launched, helping to advance and develop the women’s game.
The new annual tournament will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment to uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues. These solidarity payments will be substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition and are expected to be in excess of €10 billion (£8.7bn) during the course of the initial commitment period of the Clubs.
In addition, the competition will be built on a sustainable financial foundation with all Founding Clubs signing up to a spending framework. In exchange for their commitment, Founding Clubs will receive an amount of €3.5 billion (£3bn) solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic. Florentino Pérez, President of Real Madrid and the first Chairman of the Super League said: ‘We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires.’
Backing the new European league, Andrea Agnelli, Chairman of Juventus and Vice-Chairman of the Super League said: ‘Our 12 Founder clubs represent billions of fans across the globe and 99 European trophies. We have come together at this critical moment, enabling European competition to be transformed, putting the game we love on a sustainable footing for the long-term future, substantially increasing solidarity, and giving fans and amateur players a regular flow of headline fixtures that will feed their passion for the game while providing them with engaging role models.’
Joel Glazer, Co-Chairman of Manchester United and Vice-Chairman of the Super League said: ‘By bringing together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid.’
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