Manchester United and Liverpool are in talks with Europe’s elite clubs to join a new FIFA-backed competition that would reshape the sport’s global soccer landscape, Sky News reported on Tuesday.
Manchester United declined to comment on the report and Liverpool did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Citing unnamed “football industry” sources, Sky said more than 12 teams from Europe’s top five leagues – in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – are in negotiations to become the founding members of the new competition, dubbed the European Premier League, with a provisional start date in 2022.
The report added the financiers are looking to raise a $6 billion funding package to kick start the new tournament.
Sky said that FIFA, football’s world governing body, is working on a new format, which is expected to feature 18 teams playing fixtures during the regular European season before a knockout phase. Sky added that neither FIFA nor UEFA had commented on the story.
A FIFA spokesperson told Reuters in an emailed statement: “FIFA does not wish to comment and participate in any speculation about topics which come up every now and then and, for which, institutional structures and regulatory frameworks are well in place at national, European and global level.”
European governing body UEFA, who run the Champions League, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but their president Aleksander Ceferin has long expressed his opposition to the idea of a breakaway European league.
The idea of a European super league has been regularly floated over the last 20 years, with UEFA coming out strongly against it.
In December, 2018, German magazine Der Spiegel, citing leaked documents, said that it had discovered plans driven by Real Madrid in conjunction with other top European clubs, for the creation of a breakaway league.
Following that report, the European Leagues group (EL), which represents 25 domestic leagues including England’s Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga, voiced its “strong opposition” to any such plan.
UEFA is currently working with the European Club Association (ECA), whose members include Europe’s biggest clubs, to redesign the Champions League from 2024 onwards, although no concrete plans have emerged.
In February, 2019, Ceferin said there would be no Super League as long as he was president of UEFA and Andrea Agnelli was the head of the European Club Association.
“It’s not a promise, it’s a fact,” he added.
The news follows the leaking of ‘Project Big Picture’, a proposal backed by Manchester United and Liverpool, for radical change of English football that was rejected by a meeting of Premier League clubs last week.