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European Super League not discussed at Dorchester Hotel meeting

Discussions between representatives of American billionaire Stephen Ross and leading Premier League clubs did not include talks over the possible formation of a breakaway European Super League, Omnisport understands.

The Sun reported that executives from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United were hosted by Ross’ company Relevent Sports, which operates the pre-season International Champions Cup (ICC) event, at London’s Dorchester Hotel on Tuesday.

The newspaper claimed talks centred around establishing a European Super League, but it is understood that the main topic on the agenda was in fact the future schedule for the ICC.

With the exception of Arsenal, all other Premier League clubs mentioned have featured in ICC tournaments since it launched in the United States in 2013, with other major European teams also having played showpiece friendlies under its banner in Australia, China, Canada and Mexico.

Tuesday’s discussions reviewed the clubs’ commitments to ICC events and close-season tour programmes.

Clubs in attendance discussed the prospect of Champions League reform as an aside but the prospect of a fully-fledged European Super League was not on the agenda.

An Arsenal spokesperson told Omnisport: “We are not, in any way, supporting a breakaway. We are fully supportive of the current arrangement with the Premier League and the Champions League.”

One of the clubs involved expressed concern to Omnisport that a European Super League would be unworkable, on the understanding FIFA would not ratify a tournament in direct competition with UEFA, thereby potentially making players taking part ineligible for their national teams.

A recent statement from UEFA amid speculation over a European Super League underlined its commitment to its current format for the Champions League and Europa League, which began a new three-year cycle in 2015.

The statement read: “UEFA constantly reviews the format of its competitions in close consultation with stakeholders, including the European Club Association.

“There are no concrete proposals on the table at this stage as we have just begun a new three-year cycle (2015-18) for club competitions. There is therefore no further comment to be made at this stage.”

New FIFA president Gianni Infantino, speaking in January in his role as UEFA general secretary, told reporters:  “We are having discussions about how we can improve club competitions. I don’t see any particular issue with this particular topic. The Super League already exists. It’s called the Champions League.”

UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) signed a memorandum of understanding in March last year running until May 2022, granting the ECA two places on the UEFA Executive Committee from this year and establishing a more influential role in the decision making process for the UEFA Club Competitions Committee.

Wed 2 Mar, 2016
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