Arsenal opposed to any breakaway Super League

LONDON: Arsenal are opposed to any split from the Premier League after British media reported on Wednesday that England’s big five clubs had met to discuss joining a possible European Super League.

“We are firmly opposed to any kind of breakaway,” an Arsenal spokesman said. “We entirely support the current structure, the Premier League as it is and the Champions League as it is.”

The Sun reported that Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool had held talks with representatives of American billionaire Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins NFL franchise.

Senior executives of the five English clubs were seen leaving a meeting at London’s Dorchester Hotel on Tuesday, the newspaper said.

Ross and his Relevent Sports company organise the off-season International Champions Cup (ICC) friendly tournament played in the United States, China and Australia which features local and top European clubs.

Sources close to the talks said Tuesday’s meeting was mainly about discussing the ICC and ways of strengthening European competitions to complement the Premier League.

Europe’s biggest clubs, keen to secure automatic entry into the lucrative Champions League, have been working with European football’s governing body UEFA to review the format of the continent’s elite competition.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea could all miss out on Champions League football next season with Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur currently filling the top two slots in the Premier League ahead of Arsenal and Manchester City.

European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has suggested top clubs should get direct entry into the Champions League.

Teams currently have to qualify for the competition by virtue of their domestic league position in the previous season, with the Champions League holders also guaranteed a slot.

Former Germany striker Rummenigge, who is chief executive of Bayern Munich, told a German newspaper in January that a European league was a possibility.

“I don’t rule out that in the future a European league will be founded, in which the biggest teams from Italy, Germany, England, Spain and France will play,” he said then.