Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have agreed to establish a Super League, despite widespread criticism of the plans.
A statement from the new competition said: “AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, 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.”
Florentino Pérez, president of Real Madrid and the first chairman of the Super League, said: “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.”
The project is being launched to rival UEFA’s Champions League format which currently dominates European football – and the announcement came a day before UEFA was due to sign off on plans for an expanded and restructured tournament.
The new Super League has been criticised by politicians including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, as well as former players such as Gary Neville.
UEFA, the FA, and the Premier League are among others to have expressed opposition, saying in a joint statement that they “remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project”, adding: “We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this.
“This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”
The English FA said: “We would not provide permission to any competition that would be damaging to English football, and will take any legal and/or regulatory action necessary to protect the broader interests of the game.”
FIFA and six continental federations also threatened to ban any player that takes part in the proposed European Super League from international tournaments like the World Cup.
The Super League competition will see 20 participating clubs – 15 founding clubs and a further five teams able to qualify annually based on their achievements during the previous season.