The football world has been plunged into chaos after it was announced that six English football teams will join a new breakaway European Super League in what would be the biggest shake-up of the game in recent years.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham are among the clubs that are set to join the new venture, which has received roughly $6bn (£4.3bn) in backing from JP Morgan.
In addition to the six largest English clubs, the new league will also involve AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.
The project is being launched as a new rival to the Uefa Champions League, which currently dominates European football.
The long-rumoured move, first reported by Sky News, comes as Uefa finalises its own plans to expand and restructure the Champions League.
The plans have already sparked anger in English football, with Premier League boss Richard Masters writing to all 20 top-flight clubs to oppose the project.
“This venture cannot be launched without English clubs and we call upon any club contemplating associating themselves or joining this venture to walk away immediately before irreparable damage is done,” he said in a memo seen by Sky.
“We do not and cannot support such a concept. Premier League rules contain a commitment amongst clubs to remain within the football pyramid and forbid any clubs from entering competitions beyond those listed in rule L9, without Premier League board permission.”
He added: “I cannot envisage any scenario where such permission would be granted.”
The proposed competition is also facing further obstacles after both Uefa and Fifa vowed to derail the plans.
In a strongly-worded statement Uefa warned that any participating clubs would be banned from playing in their home leagues, such as the Premier League.
“The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams,” the football body said.
Further criticism was also levelled by former players and pundits including Gary Neville, who called the project an “absolute disgrace”, adding that club owners were motivated by “pure greed”.
The launch of a new rival league comes as a surprise move after the European Club Association (ECA), which represents 246 leading clubs across the continent, gave its backing to Uefa’s reform plans.
The Champions League revamp means the number of teams involved would increase from 32 to 36, while the group stage would be reformed to place all clubs in a single table rather than in groups of four.
Teams would play 10 matches each in the group stage instead of six and a playoff round would be introduced before the last 16.