Once a season or thereabouts, talk turns to the potential for some of England and Europe’s biggest clubs to break away from UEFA and their own football associations and form a super league. A place where every week is the Champions League and none of the television money goes to pay Tony Pulis’ salary at West Brom.
Normally it’s just that; just talk. This time around, though, with reports of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Manchester City representatives meeting in London, it seemed there could be something more. Not so, claim Arsenal, who released a statement when pressed on whether they were discussing the formation of a super league.
"We are strongly opposed to any breakaway," read a statement from Arsenal. "Not Arsenal, nor any clubs at the meeting, are seeking changes to the Premier League and European landscape and no conversations surrounding displacing the Premier League or starting a European Super League took place.
"Discussions were primarily around the ICC and formats of European competitions that would compliment the existing Premier League."
According to the Liverpool Echo, their sources at Anfield have also denied any interest in or discussions of a possible super league, confirming Arsenal’s claims that the meeting was mainly about friendly tournaments like the International Champions Cup.
Liverpool took part in the ICC two summers ago as part of a pre-season tour of North America, and they are expected to take part again this summer. The owner of Relevant Sports, the company that runs the ICC, was also at the meeting, further supporting the idea that discussions were only ever about a pre-season tournament involving England’s biggest clubs.
That the meeting of England’s five richest clubs would lead to super league speculation was perhaps inevitable, even if it appears that at least for the time being no such proposals are on the table. In the wake of the rumours, UEFA have also released a statement on the matter:
"We are constantly reviewing the formats of our competitions in consultation with our stakeholders. At the moment, there are no concrete proposals on the table. We have just gone into a new three-year cycle for the Champions League and Europa League, so we cannot offer any further comment at this stage."