European Premier League has been described as potentially the most important development in world football over the past few decades.
Revelations of a game-changing FIFA-backed tournament has taken the football world by storm. After the Premier League clubs rejected the controversial 'Project Big Picture' a week ago, seems like another football reform is upon us.
Premier League heavyweights, Liverpool and Manchester United and Europe's biggest football superpowers are in talks about joining the new FIFA-backed tournament that could reshape the global landscape of football.
When did the plans start?
Constituting a European Super League have been subject to on-off discussions for many years. Talks have invariably faded due to fierce opposition from national football associations and supporter groups.
An earlier iteration of the current project was reported to have been drawn up almost two years ago and featured 11 founding members accompanied by several guest members (teams).
The latest version of the European Premier League project is speculated to have been under development for well over a year.
Who's behind it?
Real Madrid is leading the quest to reform the club game and is being reported as one of the principal architects of the European Premier League. The Los Blancos' President, Florentino Perez and Key Capital Partners, a Spanish finance house, are the driving forces behind the latest project.
Who's backing it?
FIFA, football's world governing body, is backing the plan and has been involved in developing the new format.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino were reported to have had talks about reforming the elements of the European Premier League back in 2019.
Who's funding it?
Prominent Wall Street bank JP Morgan is to assemble a $6 billion financing package to help launch the European Premier League, which would become one of the wealthiest annual sports competitions in the world, provided it gets off the ground.
Providence Equity Partners and other leading bankers are also interested in coming onboard, probably as shareholders in the new league.
Who will contest?
Premier League Champions Liverpool and Manchester United have been in the League's radar while Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, European Champions Bayern Munich, Italy's Juventus, and France's Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly been approached.
Spanish outfits Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to be involved. Over a dozen elite clubs from England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain have had discussions about becoming founding members of the League. None of the clubs have signed legally binding terms, yet.
The tournament is likely to have either 16 or 18 teams playing a round-robin home and away fixture during the regular European season.
The top-placed teams in the league would conclude the tournament in a knockout, with prize money for the winners expected to be in hundreds of millions of pounds each year.
As part of that blueprint, the founder clubs cannot be relegated for 20 years, although the remaining teams would be replaced depending on their domestic league position at the end of each season.
When will it begin?
2022 is speculated to be the year that could laucnh the new EPL, if the latest plans bear fruit. A formal announcement about the proposals is expected as soon as this month end.
The Founding members (teams) are set to earn a joining fee worth hundreds of millions of pounds, with giant clubs such as Manchester United and Real Madrid receiving the highest amounts.
What is its effect on the Champions League?
The European Premier League could essentially oust the UEFA Champions League, which has been a staple of Europe's football calendar for decades.
The existing format of the European governing body's principal annual revenue-generating tournament is said to be locked in place until 2024, with expansion and revamp possible after that, whilst its name and existence would be cast into doubt if the continent's top clubs decide to abandon it.
It is unclear whether the new tournament has the backing of the European governing body, UEFA.If it doesn't have UEFA's support, it is likely to be unveiled as an enhanced version of the Champions League.
Provided UEFA is not involved, the new tournament would represent a subversive move from FIFA that would undermine the Champions League.
In such a scenario, there could be plenty of legal challenges to prevent it from getting off the ground, given the complexity of existing tournament agreements involving Europe's top clubs.
The prospect of a successful launch of the European Premier League is uncertain without UEFA's backing, particularly before 2024.
What are its impacts?
Such an American-style approach to European football could affect the game's shifting power-base, following an inrush of US-based owners into the English game during the last decade.
Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal are all owned by Americans.
The news has dropped a bomb onto the fracturing landscape of English football, which has spent recent times pondering over proposals ( engineered by Liverpool and Manchester United ) that hand outright power to the biggest clubs while providing a coronavirus bailout for teams below the top flight.
Its creation would have profound implications on the value of domestic broadcasting and sponsorship rights across Europe, at a time when the finances of the entire football pyramid have been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic.
Neither, FIFA nor UEFA has commented on these restructurings.
Several key details including the full list of participants are yet to be finalized and the plans could still fall apart.Published 21 Oct 2020, 22:27 IST