SportSoccer

Arsenal deny report of European Super League talks

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Reports of European breakaway league rebuffed
Reports of European breakaway league rebuffed

Arsenal have moved to dismiss a report that they took part in discussions over a breakaway European Super League in London.

A back page story in The Sun on Wednesday morning claimed that officials of the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool had taken part in a meeting over plans to set up a new European competition that would see clubs side step participation in the Champions League.

Images of Gazidis, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, Manchester City's Ferran Soriano and Liverpool's Ian Ayre leaving the meeting on Tuesday appeared to confirm plans were underway to spark changes at the top of the game,

The story sparked an outcry from supporters who claimed it highlighted the greed of the clubs at the top of the Premier League, yet an Arsenal spokesman has told the Press Association that the report was wide of the mark.

"We are strongly opposed to any breakaway," they stated.

"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 (International Champions Cup) and formats of European competitions that would compliment the existing Premier League."

While a breakaway Super League may not be on the agenda, expanding on the success of pre-season fixtures between the top English clubs may well be.

Ross' organisation is behind the International Champions Cup series, which sees a number of Premier League clubs take on other leading sides from across Europe in showpiece matches, often held as pre-season tournaments around the globe.

American billionaire Stephen Ross - the owner of Miami Dolphins NFL team - chaired the meeting of top English club officials on Tuesday, with the expanding pre-season match schedules to include bigger tournaments around the world believed to have been at the heart of the discussions.

It is understood Tuesday's meeting was with Ross' company, Relevent Sports, rather than the American billionaire himself.

Involvement in the forthcoming International Champions Cup was mentioned and changes to the Champions League format were discussed.

However, any impetus for a breakaway European Super League is believed to come from mainland Europe due to the current strength of the Premier League,

For example, Manchester United - one of the clubs at the meeting - are understood to be comfortable with the existing landscape and fixture schedule, so much so that domestically the club even supports retaining FA Cup replays.