(ATF) European football was facing civil war after 12 of the continent’s leading clubs – among them the Chinese-owned Inter Milan – announced the formation of a breakaway Super League on Sunday.
US investment giant JP Morgan confirmed it will be backing the $6bn European Super League, which will include six English clubs and three each from Italy and Spain.
The dozen wantaway clubs include the English Premier League’s American-owned Manchester United and Liverpool, and the Italian Serie A’s Internazionale, owned by China’s Suning Holdings Group since 2016.
In a statement, the league said it plans to launch "as soon as practicable”.
The news came only six days after Inter’s owners revealed that they’d had a change of heart over selling the club for $1.2bn after investing $722m since they took over the Italian giant.
The Super League plan is sure to spark a bitter battle for control of the game and its huge money-making potential generated by its clubs’ worldwide fanbases – which are especially strong in China and South-east Asia.
All of the English Premier League's Big Six, which also includes Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham, the Spanish La Liga’s Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and Italy’s Juventus and AC Milan have signed up for the league.
Three more, as yet unannounced, teams are rumoured to be joining the ‘founding members’ and five further ‘invited’ teams will also take part in the midweek 20-team contest.
No clubs from Germany or France are part of the new league yet.
The plan was announced just one day before a planned meeting to redesign the format of the Champions League from 2024.
The so-called Super League would be a direct rival to that competition though and European football’s governing body UEFA said it would ban any club involved in the breakaway from playing in its domestic league.
UK and France's Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron both also condemned the move.
A study last year by the European Club Association said the top football clubs were likely to sustain losses of more than $4.5 billion dollars, due to worldwide restrictions on sports because of the worldwide pandemic.
- Additional reporting by Reuters