FIFA president Gianni Infantino condemned the European Super League as he warned clubs involved they "cannot be half in or half out" and must fully commit to the breakaway competition.

Twelve elite clubs announced on Sunday their plans to launch a tournament to rival the Champions League in which they would be assured of qualification.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United, among others, would compete in the Super League every season without risk of demotion.

The news has prompted a strong reaction throughout the football world, with governing bodies, rivals clubs, players, coaches and fans critical of the idea and its anti-competitive format.

An initial FIFA statement on Sunday read: "FIFA can only express its disapproval to a 'closed European breakaway league' outside of the international football structures."

Infantino, FIFA president since 2016, had not subsequently discussed the Super League in public until Tuesday's UEFA Congress, however.

But he made clear in Montreux, Switzerland, that the clubs involved could not continue in their domestic leagues, as proposed, while bans from international football for players at those clubs have been threatened.

"At FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove the creation of the Super League, which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA," Infantino said.

"There is a lot to throw away for maybe a short-term financial gain of some. People need to think very carefully. They need to reflect and they need to assume responsibility.

"If some elect to go their own way, then they must live with the consequences of their choice. They are responsible for their choice.

"Concretely, this means either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in or half out."

Everton have accused the six Premier League clubs who have signed up to the European Super League of "betraying" football supporters.

Plans for a breakaway league were announced on Sunday, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham among the 12 teams confirmed to have signed up.

The news was met with a wave of criticism from across the spectrum, including fans, governing bodies, players, ex-professionals and other clubs.

And on Tuesday the Toffees made clear their feelings on the matter in a scathing statement which attacked the involvement of their fellow English top-flight outfits.

"Everton is saddened and disappointed to see proposals of a breakaway league pushed forward by six clubs," read a statement from the club's board of directors.

"Six clubs acting entirely in their own interests.

"Six clubs tarnishing the reputation of our league and the game.

"Six clubs choosing to disrespect every other club with whom they sit around the Premier League table.

"Six clubs taking for granted and even betraying the majority of football supporters across our country and beyond."

The Merseyside club were particularly critical of the timing of the move, coming amid a global pandemic which has threatened the very existence of some clubs.

"At this time of national and international crisis – and a defining period for our game – clubs should be working together collaboratively with the ideals of our game and its supporters uppermost," the statement continued.

"Instead, these clubs have been secretly conspiring to break away from a football pyramid that has served them so well.

"And in that Pyramid Everton salutes EVERY club, be it Leicester City, Accrington Stanley, Gillingham, Lincoln City, Morecambe, Southend United, Notts County and the rest who have, with their very being, enriched the lives of their supporters throughout the game's history. And vice versa.

"The self-proclaimed Super Six appear intent on disenfranchising supporters across the game – including their own – by putting the very structure that underpins the game we love under threat."

Since the plans were made public, the dissenting voices have come from every corner, with UEFA threatening sanctions, fans protesting and even players and managers speaking out against them.

It is a reaction that Everton say must be taken on board by those leading the charge for a European Super League.

"The backlash is understandable and deserved – and has to be listened to," the club's board said.

"This preposterous arrogance is not wanted anywhere in football outside of the clubs that have drafted this plan.

"On behalf of everyone associated with Everton, we respectfully ask that the proposals are immediately withdrawn and that the private meetings and subversive practises that have brought our beautiful game to possibly its lowest ever position in terms of trust end now.

"Finally we would ask the owners, chairmen, and Board members of the six clubs to remember the privileged position they hold – not only as custodians of their clubs but also custodians of the game. The responsibility they carry should be taken seriously.

"We urge them all to consider what they wish their legacy to be."

If you are a football fan there is simply no escaping the controversy caused by the announcement 12 teams have signed up to form a breakaway European Super League.

Talk of such a competition is nothing new, rumours have been swirling for years, but the furore caused has still been widespread with pundits, players and fans alike united in their disapproval.

UEFA and the major European governing bodies and leagues have vowed to do all they can to kill the proposals and huge sanctions have been threatened if the teams go ahead with the league.

But part of the debate has also centred around the credentials of some of the teams who have been invited to participate, with six from the Premier League, three from LaLiga and three from Serie A agreeing to join. Below we have reviewed each of the 12 clubs involved.

THE 'BIG SIX' FROM THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Arsenal

Arsenal's place on the list comes with the club having failed to qualify for the Champions League since the 2016-17 season, the penultimate year of Arsene Wenger's long reign. The Gunners appear unlikely to make a return via the domestic route this season, as they sit well adrift of the top four in the Premier League. However, they are still in the Europa League, with a semi-final tie against Spanish side Villarreal – coached by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, no less – to come.

Founded: October 1886 (initially as Dial Square)

Trophies won: 
First Division/Premier League: 13 times (last time was in 2003-04)
FA Cup: 14 times
EFL Cup: 2 times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once

Social media following: 
Twitter: 17.3m
Instagram: 19.2m
Facebook: 38.3m

Chelsea

The outlook for Chelsea changed dramatically in 2003, when Roman Abramovich became the new owner. Prior to the Russian's arrival, the Blues had one the top-flight title just once. They have been crowned Premier League champions five times since, however, and also enjoyed Champions League success in 2012. In overcoming Porto across two legs, they have reached the semi-finals of the competition this term for the first time since 2014.

Founded: March 1905

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League: Six times 
FA Cup: Eight times
League Cup: Five times
Champions League: Once
Europa League: Twice 
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Once

Social media following: 
Twitter - 16.6m
Instagram - 25.9m
Facebook - 49.4m

Liverpool 

The Reds have a storied history, but there has been success in recent seasons under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp. No British club has won Europe's premier club competition more times than Liverpool, while the 2019-20 Premier League title triumph finally ended a 30-year wait to get back on their perch at home. However, they only featured in the Champions League once between the 2009-10 and 2017-18 campaigns, while their hopes of repeating their success of 2019 since lifting the trophy in Madrid have resulted in exits to Spanish opponents who also involved in the Super League. 

Founded: June 1892

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League: 19 times
FA Cup: Seven times
League Cup: Eight times
Champions League: Six times
UEFA Cup: Three times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Four times
FIFA Club World Cup: Once

Social media following: 
Twitter - 17m
Instagram - 30.5m
Facebook - 39.1m

Manchester City

The Premier League champions in waiting are on course to claim a third title with Pep Guardiola at the helm. However, City slipped down to the third tier of the English football pyramid as recently as 1998, while only became one of the powerhouses of the domestic game following the arrival of a new owner in Sheikh Mansour. They first appeared in the Champions League in 2011-12 and are yet to get beyond the semi-final stage, meaning the Cup Winners' Cup success in 1970 remains the club's only European trophy.

Founded: April 1894

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League: Six times
FA Cup: Six times
League Cup: Seven times
European Cup Winners' Cup: Once

Social media following:
Twitter - 9.5m
Instagram - 23.3m
Facebook - 40.2m 

Manchester United

United were the dominant force in the Premier League era under Alex Ferguson, winning the title 13 times to overtake Liverpool's record tally. However, since their legendary manager departed, the Red Devils have not managed to add to their overall tally as 20-time top-flight champions. There was FA Cup success under Louis van Gaal - who was then sacked - and an EFL-Europa League double during Jose Mourinho's time in charge at Old Trafford. In the Champions League, United have only gone as far as the last eight since losing the 2011 final to a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona.

Founded: 1902

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League - 20 times
FA Cup - 12 times
League Cup - Five times
European Cup/Champions League - Three times
Europa League - Once
European Cup Winners' Cup - Once
European Super Cup - Once
FIFA Club World Cup - Once

Social media following:
Twitter - 25.1m
Instagram - 40.1m
Facebook - 73.2m

Tottenham

Now searching for a new manager following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho less than 24 hours after confirming their Super League involvement, Spurs' best-ever finish in a Premier League season came in 2016-17 when second behind champions Chelsea. There was a Champions League final appearance in 2019 too, though they missed out on glory when losing 1-0 to Liverpool. Indeed, Tottenham have not secured silverware since the League Cup triumph in 2008, while the most recent of their two top-flight league titles was way back in 1960-61.

Founded: 1882

Trophies won:
First Division - twice
FA Cup - eight times
League Cup - four times
UEFA Cup - twice
European Cup Winners' Cup - once

Social media following:
Twitter - 5.8m
Instagram - 10.2m
Facebook - 22.5m

THE REMAINING CLUBS INVOLVED

Atletico Madrid

A huge club in their own right, of that there is no doubt. But the last of Atleti's LaLiga title wins came in 2014, and that was only their second since 1977. Three times runners-up for Europe's greatest continental prize but as yet there has been no Champions League triumph for Atletico Madrid. While Diego Simeone has overseen a great period at Atleti, and the club has muscled into the fight with their more illustrious Clasico rivals, it should certainly be no shoo-in that Atleti deserve an automatic spot at this table.

Founded: April 1903

Trophies won:
LaLiga: 10 times
Copa del Rey: 10 times
Supercopa de Espana: Twice
Europa League: Three times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once
UEFA Super Cup: Three times

Social media following:
Twitter – 4.9m (Spanish account)
Instagram – 11.1m
Facebook - 13m

Barcelona

Another LaLiga heavyweight, boasting the talents of Lionel Messi of course, that would certainly not be out of place in a Super League, both in terms of history and trophies won. Barcelona's well-documented financial issues off the pitch may also offer a further explanation for the desire for a mind-boggling windfall. While Barca were beaten to LaLiga by Clasico rivals Madrid last term, they have already collected silverware this time around in the form of the Copa del Rey. Champions League success has not arrived since 2015 but Barca's credentials stand up to scrutiny.

Founded: March 1899

Trophies won:
LaLiga: 26 times
Copa del Rey: 31 times
Supercopa de Espana: 13 times
Champions League/European Cup: Five times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Four times
UEFA Super Cup: Five times
Club World Cup: Three times

Social media following:
Twitter – 15m (Spanish account)
Instagram – 95.9m
Facebook - 103m

Inter

The Milan giants are a club rich in history, who have scaled the heights in European football.  But also another who have struggled to reach such past glories until this term – with Antonio Conte's side appearing primed to win a first Serie A title since 2010, the year Jose Mourinho oversaw a famous treble also comprising the Coppa Italia and Champions League. While some would dispute Inter's place in a Super League, the signs are the Nerazzurri are on the way back to consistently challenging among the elite.

Founded: March 1908

Trophies won:
Serie A: 18 times
Coppa Italia: Seven times
Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
Champions League/European Cup: Three times
UEFA Cup: Three times
Club World Cup: Once

Social media following:
Twitter – 2.3m (Italian account)
Instagram – 6.5m
Facebook – 28m

Juventus

The Old Lady of Italian football. With 36 Serie A titles to their name, Juventus are the most successful club in the history of the Italian top flight. While the Bianconeri have not won the Champions League since 1996, they have been runners-up in 2015 and 2017 and no one can doubt the grandeur of this historic club. The past decade in Italy has been dominated by Juventus who have won nine titles in a row, but their quest for 10 has hit a bump as a side spearheaded by the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo sits fourth in the maiden campaign of Andrea Pirlo.

Founded: November 1897

Trophies won:
Serie A: 36 times
Coppa Italia: 13 times
Supercoppa Italiana: Nine times
Champions League/European Cup: Twice
UEFA Cup/Europa League: Three times
UEFA Super Cup: Twice

Social media following:
Twitter – 9.1m (Italian account)
Instagram – 48.2m
Facebook – 45m

Milan

Once of the most revered and loved teams across the globe, the Rossoneri have fallen on hard times in recent years. Only Madrid can boast more than Milan's seven European/Champions League victories, while many of the all-time greats have donned the famous red and black jersey. But you have to go back to 2007 for the last time Milan were crowned champions of Europe, while 10 years have past since they lifted the Serie A title. Indeed, they have not even played in the Champions League since the 2013-14 campaign – albeit Stefano Pioli's men appeared destined to return to the competition this term.

Founded: 1899

Trophies won:
Serie A: 18 times
Coppa Italia: Five times
Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
Champions League/European Cup: Seven times
European Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Five times
Club World Cup: Once

Social media following:
Twitter – 7.7m
Instagram – 9.7m
Facebook – 24m

Real Madrid

While some of the teams in this controversial process may raise a few eyebrows, there is little doubt a club with the prestige of Real Madrid would not be involved. Record winners of the European Cup/Champions League on 13 occasions (the last of which coming as recently as 2018, the third in succession under Zinedine Zidane), and 34 times winners of LaLiga (including last season) there is little doubt Los Blancos are an established part of the European elite. This term, they are into the semi-finals of the Champions League and sit second in a tight race for the top flight title in Spain.

Founded: March 1902 (initially as Madrid football club)

Trophies won:
LaLiga: 34 times
Copa del Rey: 19 times
Supercopa de Espana: 11 times
Champions League/European Cup: 13 times
UEFA Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Four times
Club World Cup: Four times

Social media following:
Twitter – 36.8m (Spanish account)
Instagram – 97.1m
Facebook – 110m

The European Super League will bring "harm to football" and those involved are risking alienating the lifeblood of the sport – the fans.

That is the view of Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa, who launched a scathing attack on plans for a breakaway league after Leeds held member club Liverpool to a 1-1 draw on Monday.

Sunday's announcement was met with a huge backlash from supporters, governing bodies, non-member clubs, players, ex-professionals and pundits.

UEFA has threatened sanctions against the 12 clubs who have thus far signed up to the scheme, with Liverpool among them.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp suggested he was no fan of the proposals, saying he would "try to help to sort it", while midfielder James Milner was more direct in his criticism, declaring: "I don't like it and hopefully it doesn't happen."

Bielsa then lent his voice to the chorus of disapproval as he lamented the greed and self-interest of the clubs spearheading the project.

"Of course it causes harm to football," he said. "This shouldn't surprise any of us.

"The stronger teams, these powerful teams think they have most influence and are generating most of the revenue in football.

"Taking into account this logic, when the rest of the teams are no longer necessary for them, they take privilege in their own interest and forget the rest.

"There are structures that should put limits on the excesses of the big teams. This was inevitable.

"The organisations could have anticipated these excesses and they could have avoided it. This shouldn't surprise us because this happens in all walks of life.

"Of course there are different teams, more important than others but they should be conscious of the needs of each other.

"But because football has a view that is always more commercial now, it is natural that in the world of businesses, looking only at the economic aspect, they demand the majority of it.

"Football belongs to everybody, even if there are owners, the real owners of football are the ones who love the badge and without them football will disappear."

France, Spain or Germany?

Eduardo Camavinga has admirers following his exploits for Rennes in Ligue 1.

Some of Europe's biggest clubs are interested, but could he be set for Bavaria?

 

TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA WANTED IN GERMANY

Bayern Munich are hoping to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to France Football.

Camavinga is unwilling to extend his Rennes contract and the 18-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

Borussia Monchengladbach's Florian Neuhaus is also on Bayern's list, though the Bundesliga champions reportedly feel Camavinga could be better value for money.

 

ROUND-UP

- Who will permanently replace Jose Mourinho as Tottenham head coach following his sacking on Monday? Football Italia claims Spurs have contacted former Juventus, Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri. The Daily Mail, however, reports RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann is Tottenham's top candidate.

- La Razon says West Ham are leading the race to sign Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri, who has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

PSG are the most likely suitors for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, according to Sport. Bellerin is likely to leave the Gunners and he has been linked to Barcelona.

- Sport says Barca's plans depend on Lionel Messi's future. Messi is out of contract at the end of the season, but president Joan Laporta is keen to re-sign the superstar amid reported interest from PSG and Manchester City. It comes as Barca target Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with rivals Real Madrid, United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus. Lyon captain Memphis Depay, City's Sergio Aguero and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum are also reportedly wanted at Camp Nou.

Inter great Walter Zenga believes the European Super League will go ahead despite strong opposition and criticism as the former Italy goalkeeper had his say on the "big mess".

The 'big six' from the Premier League – Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – have collaborated with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Inter, Juventus and Milan to reveal plans for a new midweek club competition to rival UEFA's Champions League.

Those founding members would automatically qualify each season no matter where they finished in their respective domestic leagues.

UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) have condemned the new competition, while FIFA has also disapproved of the move as fans and pundits continue to slam the breakaway league.

Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Zenga – who amassed 473 appearances for Inter, winning two UEFA Cup titles, the Serie A trophy and Supercoppa Italiana during his time at San Siro – said he is not a fan of the Super League.

"It's a big mess," the 60-year-old – who emerged from Inter's youth team in 1978 before leaving the club permanently in 1994 – told Stats Perform News.

"I think that I read one interview about [former Manchester United manager Alex] Ferguson that he said that he came from one passion football like when he was young, child play on the street and run over the dreams and everything and now probably the Super League can destroy the oldest small club like he mentioned that he won the Europa league with Aberdeen a small club.

"I don't think it's going to be okay for football, it looks like it has become a private club."

"I think that every club they have own problems now because of the covid situation," said Zenga, who was last head coach of Serie A side Cagliari in August last year. "We can just say our point of view that's just opinion it's not the truth no? We don't know what are the big problems inside some clubs, we don't know why they want to create a Super League probably to save the money or something like this.

"I think the only thing in this situation was thinking about the commercial and how to make more money and everything. Then honestly if you ask me do I like the Super League I say no. If you ask me about why one club takes a decision to approach these things I say I don't know because I'm not involved inside a club, I don't know the problems this is very difficult to understand."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin branded the planned Super League as a "disgraceful, self-serving proposal" fuelled by greed, as well as confirming players from the 12 breakaway clubs involved will be banned from international football.

Madrid president and European Super League chairman Florentino Perez insisted the primary aim of the competition is to "save football".

When asked if there was any turning back following Sunday's initial announcement, Zenga – named the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper for three consecutive years in 1989, 1990 and 1991 – replied: "I think that now after UEFA send a letter to everybody I think it is very difficult because it is [not just] one big problem to solve.

"I don't think so I think the clubs go for themself. I don't think so after this, I think the Super League continues."

Jurgen Klopp pledged to "help sort" the damaging fallout of Liverpool and 11 other clubs announcing a breakaway European Super League.

Klopp's side were held to a 1-1 draw against Leeds United on Monday at Elland Road, with Diego Llorente's late equaliser cancelling out Sadio Mane's first-half opener and preventing them from edging into the top four above West Ham on goal difference.

What a Champions League qualifying spot might mean for Liverpool within a rapidly changing wider context is open for debate and Klopp fielded questions on the Super League and the vitriolic response it has triggered before and after the game.

During a Sky Sports post-match interview, Klopp said: "I understand all the talks around and I don't like it as well" before delving into somewhat tangential criticism of Gary Neville.

However, at a subsequent news conference, Klopp insisted his opposition to the Super League would not lead to him walking away from Anfield, where he feels he has a duty of care to the players and supporters.

"I'm here as a football coach and a manager. I will do that as long as people let me do that," he said.

"It's not a situation… I heard that today I would resign or whatever. Times get even tougher, that makes me even more sticky that I stay here.

"I feel responsible for the team, I feel responsible for the club and I feel responsible for the relationship that we have with our fans.

"That's why. It's a very tough time, I'm sure. But I will try to help to sort it."

Klopp said he still believed Liverpool's Boston-based owners Fenway Sports Group were "reasonable people" but stated he had been left in the dark over talk about a Super League that has been derided as a closed shop and anti-competitive.

"I am six years in the club, round about. I know the owners. They are serious people, reasonable people and they care about us," he said.

"But they never have to explain these decisions to me or ask for permission. I was not involved in the process at all, I got information yesterday.

"Nobody knows what will happen but the team has nothing to do with it and I have not really anything to do with it, but people treat us like that.

"Leeds supporters came here tonight to shout at us. This afternoon when we were having a walk in the city people shouted at us. We have nothing to do with it."

Klopp added: "We are employees of the club and I feel responsible for a lot of things in this club. If I am involved in things then I take the criticism easily. The boys as well.

"But we are not involved in this. It's a tough one at the moment – pundits talking about the club and stuff like this. This club is bigger than all of us, we should not forget that."

James Milner added his voice to those opposing the proposed European Super League.

Veteran Liverpool midfielder Milner was speaking after a 1-1 draw against his boyhood club Leeds United at Elland Road – a game that was overshadowed by the vitriolic fallout over the breakaway plans that were controversially announced on Sunday.

Liverpool are one of 12 clubs, including all of the Premier League's 'big six' to have signed up for the plans for a new elite European competition that would effectively be a closed shop with permanent membership for 15 teams and with limited opportunities for others to qualify.

Stakeholders across the game, including UEFA and FIFA have strongly criticised the move and Milner followed the pre-match lead of his manager Jurgen Klopp by placing himself at odds with Liverpool's Boston-based owners, the Fenway Sports Group.

"I can only say my personal opinion. I don't like it and hopefully it doesn't happen," the former Manchester City player told Sky Sports.

"It's been difficult for us trying to prepare for a game. I can only imagine what's been said about it and probably agree with most of it."

Leeds fans protested against the Super League outside the stadium, while their players warmed up in t-shirts instructing Liverpool to "earn" Champions League qualification.

Sadio Mane put the Reds ahead but Diego Llorente's late header prevented the visitors from securing a win that would have put them above fourth-placed West Ham on goal difference.

"The players have no say. The welcome to the ground felt a bit unjust," Milner added.

"We're here to play football and have no control over it."

The European Club Association (ECA) has condemned the proposed Super League while announcing a new executive committee including representatives from Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.

A 12-team group including some of European football's biggest names confirmed plans for a breakaway competition on Sunday, with those founding members guaranteed to be involved every year regardless of their domestic performances.

The competition has received widespread criticism from governing bodies, former players and fan groups alike.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin branded the European Super League as a "disgraceful, self-serving proposal" fuelled by greed, as well as confirming players from the clubs involved will be banned from playing international football.

After a meeting of its executive board on Monday, the ECA made clear it remains the only "legitimate and fully recognised voice" for Europe's leading teams.

"The board was unanimous in its condemnation of the actions of the departing members, which it holds to be self-serving and to the detriment of the game's wellbeing and in clear opposition to ECA's values," a statement read.

"We believe that European club football can be reformed from within the system to achieve the collective best interests of all stakeholders in the game.

"The board reiterated ECA's clear position as the only legitimate and fully recognised voice of the leading clubs in Europe and, as such, has taken a number of decisions to ensure that it is able to continue to perform its role efficiently and effectively."

The ECA also announced PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi will be involved on a new-look executive committee, as well as Bayern representative Michael Gerlinger. Neither of the clubs were involved in the European Super League.

They will be joined by Edwin van der Sar (Ajax), Dariusz Mioduski (Legia Warszawa), Aki Riihilahti (HJK Helsinki) and Michele Centenaro (the ECA's independent board member).

Meanwhile, UEFA announced plans for Champions League expansion on Monday, the tournament set to see an increase to 36 teams from the 2024-25 season onwards.

"We are pleased that UEFA club competitions reform has reached this important milestone," the ECA said on the structural changes to the competition. 

"The agreement of new competition formats will create a greater number of high quality, relevant, exciting European matches for fans and increase participation for clubs at all levels - principles and targets that ECA laid out back in the Spring of 2019 when we embarked on this reform journey. 

"Moving forward, the entire ECA executive board's focus will be on pursuing efforts to conclude arrangements with UEFA around its renewed relationship post-2024 as we look to shape European club football for the years ahead."

Bayern CEO and honorary ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who is to replace Andrea Agnelli as one of two representatives on the UEFA executive committee, made clear that the Bundesliga club support the revamped Champions League structure.

"Bayern has not been involved in the plans for creating a Super League. We are convinced that the current structure in football guarantees a reliable foundation," Rummenigge said. 

"Bayern welcomes the reforms of the Champions League because we believe they are the right step to take for the development of European football. The modified group stage will contribute to an increase in excitement and the emotional experience in the competition.

"I do not believe the Super League will solve the financial problems of European clubs that have arisen as result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Rather, all clubs in Europe should work in solidarity to ensure that the cost structure, especially players' salaries and agents' fees, are brought in line with revenues, to make all of European football more rational."

Diego Llorente headed home a late equaliser to give Leeds United a 1-1 draw and check Liverpool's Champions League qualification hopes – at least insofar as such an ambition can still be understood.

The build-up to Monday's clash was dominated by fallout from the announcement of a deeply controversial European Super League, of which Liverpool are set to be one of 12 founder members.

Jurgen Klopp restated his opposition to such a project before kick-off and, as Leeds fans protested outside the ground, their players warmed up in shirts demanding Liverpool "earn" a Champions League spot.

Mane's smart first-half finish did some of the work towards that aim but Spain defender Llorente notched his first Leeds goal three minutes from time to prevent the Reds from edging above West Ham on goal difference.

UEFA being on an apparent war footing against the dissident dozen means the Reds moving into the top four would have been moot development in any case.

Jurgen Klopp expressed his support for "competitive football" but urged Liverpool's players and fans to be united as opposition to the proposed European Super League mounts.

Liverpool were one of 12 clubs included in an announcement on Sunday for a breakaway competition featuring some of Europe's elite teams, including all of the Premier League's 'big six'.

Condemnation of the project has been vitriolic and near-universal throughout football, while Klopp himself has previously voiced opposition when such proposals were mooted.

The Liverpool manager maintained that stance in defiance of his club's owners ahead of Monday's Premier League match against Leeds United, but he bridled at reports of fans removing banners from Anfield and the hosts warming up at Elland Road with shirts reading "Earn it" – in reference to the Reds' bid to qualify for the Champions League – and "Football is for the fans".

"I'm 53 years old and since I was a professional player the Champions League was there, I think. It was not possible as a player, but as a manager the aim was always to coach a team there," he told Sky Sports, whose pre-match coverage featured a sustained assault on the Super League plans from pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

"I obviously have no issues with the Champions League, I like the competitive fact of football as well. I like the fact that West Ham may play Champions League football next year, I don't want them to, to be honest, because we want to do that, but I like that they have the chance.

"What can I say, it's really not easy. Liverpool Football Club is much more than some decisions and the most important part of football is the supporters and the team. We have to make sure that really nothing gets in between that.

"I have heard we have pulled banners down at Anfield and I don't understand that because the players didn't do anything wrong. We didn't win all the games, but we go with everything. We want to qualify for the Champions League next year. We need to stick together.

"When other people from other clubs use our anthem [You'll Never Walk Alone] against us, I don't like it as well. We can show that nobody has to walk alone in these moments. There are things that we have to sort, obviously, but it has nothing to do with the relationship between the supporters and the team – that, for me, is really important.

"In tough times, you have to show that you really stick together. That doesn't mean that you agree to everything, but – again – the boys didn't do anything wrong apart from not winning all the games. I really want to make sure everyone knows that."

On Monday, UEFA announced its own plans for an expanded 36-team Champions League format, another development that wearies Klopp.

"I know some things will change in football, I know some things have to change, for sure," he said. "The power, where it is at is not quite right.

"UEFA cannot just decide things, FIFA cannot just decide things, everybody plans more competitions. UEFA showed me [the Champions League plans] few months ago and I told them there are more games, so I don't like it.

"For the [Super League] clubs it's about money, but what do you think for UEFA it's about? FIFA wants the Club World Cup whenever that should be, but that's about money, nothing else.

"It's not only these clubs, things will change, some things have to change.

"One thing I can understand that the people think is not right is the competitiveness. I get that. I said that before."

As claim, counter-claim and another news bombshell thudded into one another regarding the purported launch of a European Super League on Sunday, many football supporters and those involved with the game expressed wishes for a simpler time.

One of those was Mark Pougatch, esteemed anchor of ITV's UK coverage of England matches, who was probably wondering what side Gareth Southgate might be able to put out given UEFA's threats to ban players from the 12 Super League clubs from representing their national teams.

Pougatch asked whether the chairmen of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham in the 1980s and 1990 – local figures rooted in their communities – would have let such tawdry antics occur on their watch.

A glance at his Twitter replies showed the consensus was, "Probably, yeah".

One claimed Peter Swales, the vainglorious and hubristic ex-Manchester City chairman, would have sold his kidneys to take part in a Super League. Martin Edwards, his Manchester United contemporary whose family ploughed their fortune from butchery into the club, would probably have bought Swales' kidneys and put them into sausages.

Gallows humour among supporters often speaks football's more enduring truths and this was no different. Sunday's cloth-eared land grab from England's 'big six', Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Milan, Juventus and Inter is shocking because of its scant regard for the sporting competition all of them pretend to crave. But it is entirely in line with the actions of those clubs over the past three decades, which have always spoken louder than their vapid platitudes.

Edwards, Swales and their contemporaries were around at the time super league talk first emerged, when gate sharing in English football was abolished in 1983 and the so-called Heathrow Agreement gave half of the television rights money available to the top division at the expense of the other three in 1985.

These were all precursors to the 1992 Premier League breakaway, which enshrined the basic principle that has driven all the developments of the past 24 hours: the more successful a team is, the greater share of the game's wealth it deserves at the expense of all others, widening gap between the haves and the have-nots.

A shrinking privileged few see how cold it is outside of their exclusive set and have since taken every measure they can to ensure they do not fall out of that elite. What better way to lock that down than to come up with a closed shop drowning in hedge-fund billions? The Super League is as much a natural conclusion as it is a radical departure.

But what now?

Baddies and baddies

The multi-layered PR disaster of the Super League roll out, not to mention the threat of endless litigation, means understandably upset fans should still have confidence the vision of Florentino Perez and his allies will not prevail.

But picking good guys and bad guys in this scenario is a selection process as tricky as sending a Spain team to a European Championship without Barca, Madrid or Atleti players.

We've seen numerous examples over recent years of fans being played off against one another in sinister fashion. Take the framing of new-monied City and Chelsea, trying to unseat the deserving greats of English football – United, Arsenal and Liverpool (sorry, Tottenham) – with their ill-gotten gains. Oil money and plastic clubs versus institutions with values, doing things the "proper" way.

Turns out they are all the same side of an utterly fetid coin. They deserve complete contempt and suspicion at all times. They have proved they do not care about you or your club and you never owe them your obedience.

So who are the goodies? Absolutely not UEFA.

Aleksander Ceferin spoke with impressive passion, clarity and controlled anger when addressing the challenge to his organisation and its tournaments on Monday. But UEFA's new Champions League format is a horrible pile of bloated rubbish.

There will be more games, more dead rubbers, less jeopardy and more guarantees – in financial and sporting terms – for the elite. It's the closed shop of the Super League with a few of the windows and doors left open. Probably as well to let out the smell.

UEFA are the far lesser of two evils here but unquestioningly backing them as righteous saviours and guardians of football is a dead end.

The Premier League's lost generation

Similarly, concern proclaimed for "match-going fans" should not be allowed to pass by in England without action being taken once the dust settles.

High ticket prices have served to effectively leave a generation of fans behind in the Premier League. In the 2017 BBC Price of Football study, 82 per cent of 18-24 year olds said the cost of tickets was an obstacle to them attending matches.

Within that context, Monday's survey for BBC Sport by polling company Savanta ComRes that showed 48 per cent of 18-34-year-old fans were "happy" about the Super League plans – against an "unhappy" 18 per cent - should come as little surprise.

For all the understandable outrage among those with an emotional stake in the traditions of the game, there is an entire demographic who love and consume football but feel little connection to the "fabric" of its century-old culture that has failed to lend them so much as a stray thread.

The breakaway clubs are motivated primarily by vast financial gain, but a younger generation left to find their own way into the game by the establishment – in thrall to online clips, video games and viral superstars – will have come into their calculations.

German football's stronger connection to its fan culture, demonstrated both by more affordable ticket prices and the 50+1 rule enshrining member ownership, feels like a huge factor in Bayern Munich not being along for the joyride.

Much as they might feel taken for a ride by various stakeholders, supporters will still be influential over the direction of travel to come and those chastising the Super League must now do more than pay lip service. Slash admission prices and open up the people's game once more.

"We came from Cheltenham"

Those fan groups already engaged are starting to mobilise and it will be interesting to hear how the biggest names in the sport react, especially in light of UEFA's hardline threats that seemingly include immediate Champions League expulsion. Without them this cannot happen.

Speaking to Kicker in 2019, Jurgen Klopp said: "I hope there will never be this Super League. I also don't feel like my club has to be seeded [in the Champions League].

"Of course, it's economically important, but why should we create a system where Liverpool can play against Real Madrid for 10 years in a row? Who wants to see this every year?"

Pep Guardiola has also rubbished the idea to which his club has now committed to – although City are among those involved yet to issue a public statement on the matter – and spoke warmly of the value of football's pyramid structure before an FA Cup tie at Cheltenham Town this season, when his players had to get changed in the stadium bar at Whaddon Road.

"Everyone comes from the lower divisions or do you believe when we are under-16 or under-18 we fly in private jets?" he said. "We play in these stadiums all our careers, we don't play in big stadiums all the time, we came from [places like] Cheltenham. People cannot forget that and it is a pleasure to play there.

"We were there many times and we changed in bars as boys and we play football with incredible joy. We love this game and we change in these changing rooms for most of our careers most of the time."

Guardiola depicted a romance entirely absent from the Super League, UEFA's reforms and, in truth, most of his employers' operations. But for all the distance between the millionaire superstars of the modern game and the supporters shown such contempt by the hedge fund class, there lies a common bond.

Klopp stood by his previously stated position ahead of Liverpool's game with Leeds United amid fan protests outside Elland Road. He and Guardiola will speak again about this serious fracture in the sport over the coming hours and days and their words will carry considerable weight. The Super League owners have used the uncertainty of the global pandemic to push their agenda, but the tragedy and tumult of the past year has also shown how much power still lies with players and fans.

It can be seen before every single Premier League game, when players continue to take a knee in protest against police brutality. It was there when Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson led a fundraising effort for the NHS after he and his fellow professionals were goaded by a UK government that Marcus Rashford continues to hold to account over child poverty.

It was also felt by would-be Super League clubs, when City and United were persuaded to donate £100,000 to foodbanks in Greater Manchester amid rising demand due to the pandemic. Or when Liverpool and Tottenham U-turned on their risible decision to furlough non-playing staff.

Players and fans, still the heart and soul of the game we love, might have to shout a little louder this time, but they can definitely be heard. It feels like a moment to line up alongside one another as opposed to backing the least-bad option in a pin-striped suit stuffed with self-interest and empty promises.

Sunday's announcement of a long-feared European 'Super League' raised the possibility of unprecedented change in football, with the 12 founding clubs seemingly at threat of being kicked out of other competitions as a result.

The Premier League's so-called "big six", Spanish giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and Serie A trio Juventus, Milan and Inter have broken ranks and agreed to the formation of the breakaway competition.

Sunday's uniform announcement from most of the clubs involved confirmed the Super League will be made up of 15 founding clubs – with three to be added to the initial 12 – and unconfirmed guest teams.

It will run as a midweek tournament alongside the teams' respective domestic leagues and guarantees the founding clubs a share of €3.5billion "solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic".

But, pre-empting the announcement following widespread media speculation, UEFA released a statement co-signed by the national associations of England, Spain and Italy, and those countries' respective top-flight leagues. It reiterated a threat to ban players and teams involved from competing in other competitions.

While that is a debate that will rage on for some time, with the legality of such measures unclear for the moment, it raises the possibility of a Premier League without its "big six", a LaLiga missing Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Serie A expelling Juve, Milan and Inter.

With that in mind, we looked at what those three divisions would look like in the – admittedly unlikely – event that the 12 Super League clubs are expelled and results involving them are expunged…

Premier League

Who'd have thought in 2013 when he was appointed as Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchester United that David Moyes' first Premier League title would come as West Ham boss?

Well, if the "big six" were expelled and their results were void, it would be the Hammers sitting at the top of the pile – and by some distance.

Moyes' men would be on 49 points from 21 matches having suffered just two defeats.

Curiously, the exclusion of the Super League clubs would seemingly harm Leicester City, as they have lost just three matches to them in 2020-21 – West Ham have been beaten seven times by "big six" opposition.

Nevertheless, Leicester would still be on course to get back in the Champions League. Leeds United (1.8) and Everton (1.6) would appear to be the favourites to join them, by virtue of their better points-per-game record than Aston Villa (1.5).

LaLiga

Fair play to Real Betis, who have already embraced a future without Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona by deleting them from the Liga table that sits on their website.

Unfortunately for Betis, that same table now has their bitter rivals Sevilla sitting pretty at the summit.

In fact, Sevilla probably shouldn't be ruled out of the real title race just yet given they are actually only six points behind leaders Atletico and still have to face Zinedine Zidane's Madrid.

In our LaLiga table excluding the "big three", Sevilla have 60 points from 26 games, giving them a 13-point lead over Villarreal.

It also highlights just how bad Los Nervionenses' record against Madrid, Barca and Atletico is, as they have taken just four points from them this term.

Rounding off the top four would be Betis in third and Real Sociedad in fourth.

Serie A

Juventus' stranglehold on Serie A looks set to end regardless of any action from UEFA and the league. Having won each of the previous nine Scudetti, the Old Lady have been dire under Andrea Pirlo for much of the season.

So, helping establish a new semi-closed competition under the guise of needing better opponents is the logical step…

While Atalanta would sit top of a Serie A without Juve, Inter and Milan, technically it's Lazio who would be on course for title success.

The Biancocelesti have played a game less than Atalanta but would only be behind them on goal difference – their points-per-game record is 2.24, slightly more than the Bergamo side's 2.15.

Napoli (2.12) and Roma (1.96) would remain in the running as well were the "big three" to be dumped out of the competition.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has branded the planned European Super League as a "disgraceful, self-serving proposal" fuelled by greed, as well as confirming players from the 12 breakaway clubs involved will be banned from international football.

The 'big six' from the Premier League have collaborated with Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Milan and Real Madrid to reveal plans for a new midweek club competition.

Those founder members would automatically qualify each season no matter where they finished in their respective domestic leagues.

Speaking during a conference call to reveal "dynamic" changes to UEFA's current European club tournaments, Ceferin made clear how results on the pitch should always decide who participates, rather than a "closed shop run by a greedy few".

"We began this project to modernise the competitions in 2019 judged by the principle it should be: an exercise in inclusive leadership," Ceferin told the media.

"At the start of the process, we were driven by a desire to help all UEFA club competitions into something even better than the spectacles we know today. With the unanimous support of the European Club Association (ECA), we consulted widely across the game.

"Teams will always qualify and compete in our competitions on merit, not a closed shop run by a greedy, select few. That was our decision from the beginning.

"Any club, any fans should still have the dream of participating in the Champions League based on their results on the pitch."

The European Super League plan has come in for widespread criticism and Ceferin did not hold back in his own assessment, as well making clear the ramifications it will have for players outside of club football.

"I must address the extraordinary situation that has developed on the eve of this announcement," he continued.

"I cannot stress more strongly at this moment that UEFA and the footballing world stand united against the disgraceful, self-serving proposal in the past 24 hours from a select few clubs in Europe that are fuelled purely by greed above all else.

"Not only is the football world united, but society is also united, governments are united. It's part of our culture – we are all united against this nonsense of a project.

"We have the English FA, Spanish Federation, Italian Federation, Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, and also FIFA and all our 55 member associations unanimous in opposition to this cynical plan that are completely against what football should be.

"Our game has become the greatest sport in the world based on open competition, integrity and sporting merit. We cannot allow, and we will not allow that to change, ever. Never.

"As previously announced by FIFA and the six confederations, the players that play in the teams that might play in the closed league, will be banned from playing in the World Cup and the Euros. They will not be able to represent their national teams in any matches."

UEFA announced plans for Champions League expansion that will see an increase to 36 teams as the present format -  whereby there are eight pools of four – will be scrapped.

Instead, each team will play 10 group games before advancing to a last-16 knockout format. The changes are due to be introduced for the 2024-25 season.

"Whoever thinks the Super League and UEFA are all about money is not right. Super League is only about money, money of the dozen – I don't want to call them the dirty dozen," Ceferin said. 

"UEFA is about developing football, about financing what should be financed, that our football and our culture survives. Some people do not understand it.

"The reforms preserve the value of the domestic game by retaining the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification – this should, and will not, ever change.

"The European game is the greatest success story of the modern sport, and there's a reason why – because of its pyramid, it's long history. We are constantly adapting the European competition to ensure it is more and more interesting, more and more modern, but the principles cannot change.

"Solidarity is something that cannot change, but for some people solidarity doesn't exist, unity doesn't exist. The only thing that exists is their pockets."

Ander Herrera has spoken out against the planned creation of a European Super League, describing clubs involved as "the rich stealing what the people created".

In a strongly worded post on Twitter, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder expressed how it was pivotal in football for all clubs to be able to retain the dream of competing at the highest level.

The 'big six' from the Premier League have combined with Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid from LaLiga, plus Serie A clubs Inter, Juventus and Milan, to propose the introduction of a breakaway competition to rival UEFA's Champions League model.

The proposal sees those 12 clubs joined by eight more to play in two leagues across a span of midweek fixtures, followed by a two-legged knockout format to decide the eventual winners.

Those founding members – it is expected that number could eventually rise to 15 – will qualify each season regardless of their domestic league position, much to Herrera's disappointment.

"I fell in love with popular football, with the football of the fans, with the dream of seeing the team of my heart compete against the greatest," Herrera wrote.

"If this European Super League advances, those dreams are over, the illusions of the fans of the teams that are not giants of being able to win on the field competing in the best competitions will end.

"I love football and I cannot remain silent about this, I believe in an improved Champions League, but not in the rich stealing what the people created, which is nothing other than the most beautiful sport on the planet."

PSG, along with 2019-20 Champions League winners Bayern Munich, have not signed up to be involved in the Super League.

Herrera moved to the French capital after five years with Manchester United, having helped the Red Devils win the Europa League in 2017. He also featured for his current employers in last season's Champions League final, while PSG are through to the last four this term.

Mesut Ozil also made clear his disapproval of the introduction of a Super League, a competition he believes will dilute the excitement surrounding European heavyweights going up against each other.

"Kids grow up dreaming to win the World Cup and the Champions League - not any Super League," Ozil posted on Twitter, along with a broken heart emoji.

"The enjoyment of big games is that they only happen once or twice a year, not every week. Really hard to understand for all football fans out there."

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