A group of Europe's 12 biggest clubs has confirmed their plans to launch a European Super League.
Reports had broken on Sunday of their plans, which have been met by a spectacular backlash from much of the footballing world.
Now it has been confirmed that a handful of teams, including Premier League sides Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool, are planning a rogue competition.
What have they said?
A statement released late on Sunday said: "Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its Founding Clubs.
"AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs. It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.
"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.
"The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model. Further, for a number of years, the Founding Clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis.
"The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid. In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions. 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."
Who are the powerbrokers?
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has been confirmed as the president on the new league.
“We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires,” he claimed.
Juventus president Andrea Agnelli is the vice president of the Super League. With Sunday's announcement, Agnelli has resigned as president of the ECA.
He added: “Our 12 Founder clubs represent billions of fans across the globe and 99 European trophies. We have come together at this critical moment, enabling European competition to be transformed, putting the game we love on a sustainable footing for the long-term future, substantially increasing solidarity, and giving fans and amateur players a regular flow of headline fixtures that will feed their passion for the game while providing them with engaging role models.”
What will the format be?
According to the statement, the competition will work thus:
"20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
"Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.
"An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals. Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue."
What did FIFA have to say?
“In view of several media requests and as already stated several times, FIFA wishes to clarify that it stands firm in favour of solidarity in football and an equitable redistribution model which can help develop football as a sport, particularly at global level, since the development of global football is the primary mission of FIFA,” the organisation said in a statement.
“In our view, and in accordance with out statutes, any football competition, whether national, regional or global, should always reflect the core principles of solidarity, inclusivity, integrity and equitable financial redistribution. Moreover, the governing bodies of football should employ all lawful, sporting and diplomatic means to ensure this remains the case. Against this background, FIFA can only express its disapproval to a “closed European breakaway league” outside of the international football structures and not respecting the aforementioned principles.
“FIFA always stands for unity in world football and calls on all parties involved in heated discussions to engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue for the good of the game and in the spirit of solidarity and fair play. FIFA will, of course, do whatever is necessary to contribute to a harmonised way forward in the overall interests of football.”