Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham are among 12 clubs who have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL).
In a seismic move for European football, the Premier League clubs will join AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, and Real Madrid.
The ESL said the founding clubs had agreed to establish a “new midweek competition” with teams continuing to “compete in their respective national leagues”.
It said the inaugural season was “intended to commence as soon as practicable” and “anticipated that a further three clubs” would join the breakaway.
The ESL said it also planned to launch a women’s competition as soon as possible after the men’s tournament starts.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Uefa, and the Premier League condemned the move when the news broke on Sunday.
Critics say the move is being driven purely by money, would destroy domestic leagues, and is against the integrity of the sport.
World governing body Fifa had previously said it would not recognize such a competition, and any players involved could be denied the chance to play at a World Cup.
Uefa, Europe’s governing body, reiterated that warning on Sunday when it said players involved would be banned from all other competitions at domestic, European, or world level and could be prevented from representing their national teams.
After the ESL was announced, Fifa expressed its “disapproval” of the proposed competition and called on “all parties involved in heated discussions to engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue for the good of the game”.
The ESL has sent a letter to Fifa president Gianni Infantino and Uefa boss Aleksander Ceferin issuing a notice of legal proceedings in European courts designed to block any sanctions the two governing bodies may try to enforce over the formation of the ESL.
In a statement, the ESL said: “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.”
There were talks in October, involving Wall Street bank JP Morgan, over a new £4.6bn competition that would replace the Champions League.
Uefa had hoped the plans for a new 36-team Champions League – with reforms set to be confirmed on Monday – would head off the formation of a Super League.
However, the 12 sides involved in the Super League do not think the reforms go far enough.
They said the global pandemic had “accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model”.
“In recent months, extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions,” they added.
“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.”
What is the proposed format?
The league will have 20 teams – the 12 founding members plus the three unnamed clubs they expect to join soon, and five sides who qualify annually according to their domestic achievements.
Under the proposals, the ESL campaign would start in August each year, with midweek fixtures, and the clubs would be split into two groups of 10, playing each other home and away.
The top three in each group would qualify for the quarter-finals, with the teams in fourth and fifth playing a two-legged play-off for the two remaining spots.
From then on, it would have the same two-leg knockout format used in the Champions League before a single-leg final in May at a neutral venue.
The ESL said it would generate more money than the Champions League and would result in a greater distribution of revenue throughout the game.