Premier League Clubs Join Super League

Six of the Premier League’s top clubs have announced that they will join the newly formed European Super League. The move has been met with criticism though, as the Premier League, UEFA and the Prime Minister have condemned the decision. Tottenham Hotspur, one of the clubs joining the breakaway league, has fired its Head Coach, Jose Mourinho.

Football fans watching a match in a stadium and cheering on players.

The reaction from fans and former professionals has largely been negative. ©Tembela Bohle/Pexels

New Mid-Week Competition

A selection of Europe’s leading football clubs, which includes the Premier League’s “big six”, have agreed to join together to form a new European Super League. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have joined as founding members of the competition.

From Europe, AC Milan, Atlético de Madrid, Barcelona, Internazionale Milano, Juventus and Real Madrid complete the initial line-up. It is expected that three more clubs, to be announced at a later date, will also join the mid-week competition. The ESL intends to start as soon as possible, and has ambitions to launch a corresponding women’s league.

The competition’s format will consist of twenty clubs, including the fifteen founding clubs. There will be a qualifying mechanism so that five more teams can compete based on their results in the season before. Fixtures will take place mid-week, so as not to impact on the traditional calendar of match fixtures.

The new league hopes to commence in August. Clubs will take part in two groups of ten, with home and away matches. The top three clubs in each group will qualify for the quarter finals. Fourth and fifth place teams will play in a two-legged play-off for the remaining place in the quarter finals. The final will take place at the end of May.

According to a press release issued by the Super League, its creation has come in response to pressures heightened by the pandemic. For much of last year the football calendar was put on hold, and schedules are still recovering. Fans are still not allowed to attend matches in person, although it is hoped that that will change in the months to come.

The ESL’s aim is to create opportunities for top clubs to compete more regularly, improving the standard of European competitions. Co-Chairman of Manchester United and Vice-Chairman of the Super League, Joel Glazer explained:

“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.”

Mixed Reactions

The decision has caused a stir, triggering largely negative reactions. UEFA and the Premier League have condemned the move, and even the Prime Minister has commented on the issue. Johnson said that the government would look at ways to work with football authorities to make sure that the European Super League doesn’t go ahead under its current plans.

There has been an outcry on social media against the proposed league, with critics slamming the decision as driven by financial greed. Despite assurances from the ESL, many fans see it as a betrayal and say that it would destroy domestic leagues and harm the integrity of football. Club fan groups have already issued their own statements condemning the ESL.

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust accused club owners of “avarice and self-aggrandizement”, while the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust are mourning “the death of Arsenal as a sporting institution”. With such a frosty reception amongst fans, the ESL has been left with an awkward PR problem. How will it win over supporters that have already denounced the breakaway as unforgivable?

The concept of a European Super League has been banded around since the 1990’s, but hasn’t gotten off the ground until now. Governing body FIFA has previously said that it would refuse to recognize this kind of competition, and participating players would have to forfeit potential places in the World Cup.

UEFA has also echoed those concerns, saying that ESL players would be banned from all other domestic, European and global competitions. That means that players could also be prevented from representing their national teams. All of this pre-existing disapproval of a super league makes the speed at which the ESL has moved forward all the more surprising.

Following the announcement of the ESL, FIFA has called on football authorities to engage together in calm discussions, for the benefit of the game. The ESL has already issued FIFA and UEFA with notice of legal proceedings in European courts that would block sanctions from the governing bodies.

Jose Mourinho Fired

News has also broken that Tottenham Hotspur has fired its Head Coach Jose Mourinho. Exactly why the Portuguese boss has been sacked has already proved a hot topic of debate on social media. A string of underwhelming results had already cast doubt on his future, although there are also rumors that he was let go over disagreements about Tottenham joining the Super League.

Mourinho first became manager of Spurs in November 2019, when he was brought in to replace Mauricio Pochettino. He managed to raise the club up to sixth position in the Premier League last season. However, the club is now in seventh place and was knocked out of the Europa League in March.

This season Tottenham set a bad record, dropping 20 points after suffering ten league defeats in one campaign. The team lost the most points from winning positions in the Premier League, sealing the end of Mourinho’s 17-month leadership. His final match was on April 16th, when Spurs drew 2-2 against Everton

Tottenham Hotspur issued a statement announcing Mourinho’s departure and thanked him for his contribution to the club. According to the club, Mourinho has been relieved of his duties, as have his coaching staff. Leaving with Mourinho is Joao Sacramento, Nuno Santos, Carlos Lalin and Giovanni Cerra. The club stated:

“Jose and his coaching staff have been with us through some of our most challenging times as a Club. Jose is a true professional who showed enormous resilience during the pandemic. On a personal level I have enjoyed working with him and regret that things have not worked out as we both had envisaged. He will always be welcome here and we should like to thank him and his coaching staff for their contribution.”

Academy Coach Ryan Mason has made 53 Premier League appearances for Spurs, and is set to take charge of first team training. Spurs are preparing to play at home against Southampton on April 21st. The team will then face Manchester City on April 25th to play for the EFL Cup final.

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