Manchester United are reportedly set to distance themselves from a potential European Super League, after FIFA announced their strong opposition to the proposal.
In the last decade or so, there have been persistent rumours of a potential breakaway league for Europe’s elite clubs. which could potentially spell the end of domestic football as we know it.
While no one has officially given their support to the idea, it is believed that both Real Madrid and Juventus are leading the charge, with Los Blancos President Fiorentino Perez seemingly the key proponent of the idea.
Their plan would be to introduce a new league including 15/16 founder members made up of Europe’s elite clubs, as well as a handful of sides who would be made to qualify to enter. The competition would have no relegation nor promotion and would essentially adopt an NFL-style, closed off set-up.
Recent reports have suggested that each founder member would be handed £310m just to join the league and would then be paid £213m each season thereafter. That prospect has seemingly caught the attention of a number of Europe’s cash-strapped clubs, with Madrid and Barcelona, in particular, struggling due to the financial impact of the ongoing pandemic.
There had been rumours that the Premier League’s biggest sides had also been invited to join, although, according to the Daily Mail, Manchester United are set to ‘shun’ the idea after FIFA and the six major continental football federations voiced their public opposition to any Super League.
Their announcement this week suggested that any player who opted to partake in a Super League would be banned from participating in a World Cup or continental competition.
Such a strong stance from the world’s governing body has led United to back away from the proposals, despite chief executive Ed Woodward previously having been linked to the implementation of a Super League.
Any plans for a breakaway competition would also disrupt UEFA’s plan to revamp the current Champions League format in 2024, which would essentially become a 36-team ‘super league’, except teams would have to qualify to enter and would replace the current group stage phase.
The new tournament is set to adopt the ‘Swiss-style’ system in which teams play against opponents of differing quality depending on their seeding, with the best 12 teams automatically heading through to the last-16, while the remaining four slots would be decided by a mid-season play-off round.
These radical changes are not the only ones on the horizon for world football, with FIFA keen to introduce a new 24-team Club World Cup as soon as 2022.