European Premier League: FA chairman Greg Clarke opposes plans for new tournament

Greg Clarke: "Once you move out of association football, you can't play for England, you can't play in the Champions League. So there are big consequences to moving outside of the association football pyramid."

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FA chairman Greg Clarke says there will be 'big consequences' for players should a European Super League be formed in the future

FA chairman Greg Clarke opposes plans for a European Premier League and insists there would "big consequences" for players who joined a breakaway competition.

Plans for a lucrative new tournament were leaked last month, which revealed that Liverpool and Manchester United have participated in talks over the construction of a new competition, which would receive funding of $6billion (£4.6billion) by Wall Street bank JP Morgan.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham have also reportedly been approached, and it is understood that more than a dozen clubs from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have held talks about becoming founding members of the competition.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he is "not interested" in a European Premier League, while UEFA says it "strongly opposes" the plans, and Clarke says players would be banned from playing in the Champions League or for their national teams if they join a breakaway league.

When asked how easy it would be for the Premier League's 'big six' to join a European Premier League, Clarke said: "It is more complicated, it seems. For example, any European Super League needs approval from three bodies.

"It needs the approval of FIFA, which is the global governing body which I sit on the board of. It needs UEFA, which is the European governing body which I sit on the board of. And it needs approval of the member association, which in this case is the FA. So all three of those would have to approve the clubs participating, for a European Super League to be possible.

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Image: Manchester United and Liverpool have held discussions about a plan to join a European Premier League

"Now it is practical to get an expensive lawyer to pick holes in that because they'll look at the words and say 'maybe we can do this or maybe we can do that'. But once you move out of association football, you can't play for England, you can't play in the Champions League. So there are big consequences to moving outside of the association football pyramid."

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Clarke, who was elected as a FIFA vice president in 2019, said he would oppose any plans for a breakaway European league.

"I would fight a European Super League at FIFA level, at UEFA level and FA Level," said Clarke, speaking at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting on Tuesday.

"I'm sure I would get the support of the FA board, because our job is to protect football. Not to create some sort of global elite which we look on from a distance and are available to only a small number of clubs."

Clarke believes the current interest surrounding the proposed European Premier League could be "sabre-rattling" from elite clubs hoping to get a more favourable share of revenue from the next Champions League television rights deal.

Greg Clarke, new chairman of The Football Association watches on during The Emirates FA Cup Qualifying First Round match between South Park and Dorking at King George's Field on September 2, 2016 in Reigate, England 1:15
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"The problem is there's a point of instability in football every few years, because every few years they renegotiate the Champions League - which is the big earner for clubs that play in Europe," added Clarke.

"The next Champions League negotiation is due to finish by 2022 and take place in 2024, when the new Champions League and Europa League format takes place.

"When that happens there is usually a lot of sabre-rattling, and sometimes more than sabre-rattling about the formation of a competitor for the Champions League.

"Usually that manifests itself as big clubs trying to create leverage for themselves to get a better deal out of the Champions League.

"But I think it would be foolish in the extreme to assume there aren't big money interests outside of football, private equity etc., who are looking at that as a value creation vehicle and they have little interest in the long-term interests of the game."

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