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Sources: Rebel clubs ready for UEFA talks

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Published in Soccer
Tuesday, 20 April 2021 10:21

The 12 rebel clubs planning to form a European Super League (ESL) are "ready for dialogue" with domestic leagues and UEFA, sources told ESPN.

With widespread hostility and opposition to the ESL proposal announced on Sunday from within football and also from political leaders such as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, the leading figures within the breakaway cabal accept that there is a need for high-level talks in order to lay out their plans.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin described the leaders of the group as "snakes" during an explosive news conference on Monday in which he also said that the proposals, involving Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United and others, were a "spit in the face of football lovers."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, the chairman of the ESL group, responded by saying football must "change and adapt," while dismissing Ceferin's threat of the rebel clubs being banned from UEFA competitions.

- Ogden: Super League idea comes at greatest expense to fans
- Marcotti: What does Super League mean for European football?

A meeting of the 14 Premier League clubs not involved in the proposal -- the ESL plan includes Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham -- was held Tuesday in an effort to agree on a strategy to combat the initiative.

A statement following the meeting read: "The Premier League, alongside The FA, met with clubs today to discuss the immediate implications of the Super League proposal.

"The 14 clubs at the meeting unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition. The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those Shareholders involved to account under its rules.

"The League will continue to work with key stakeholders including fan groups, Government, UEFA, The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA to protect the best interests of the game and call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.

"The Premier League would like to thank fans and all stakeholders for the support they have shown this week on this significant issue. The reaction proves just how much our open pyramid and football community means to people."

Anger toward the breakaway plan has remained intense with fans burning a Liverpool shirt prior to Monday's game against Leeds United at Elland Road, and key ESL figures believe talks can tone things down and lead to a greater understanding of the proposals, sources said.

Sources told ESPN that during Tuesday's Premier League meeting, there was widespread anger at the behaviour of the six absent clubs but also a recognition that a dialogue must be maintained to bring them back to the negotiating table.

Several clubs intimated their approval for a threat of heavy sanctions in a bid to make those not in attendance realise the gravity of their actions, sources added.

Under the ESL plan, an annual solidarity payment of €160 million would be paid to the Premier League clubs to ensure the money generated by the new competition would trickle down to the domestic game.

ESL leaders are determined to spell out their vision to remain in domestic leagues while playing only in midweek in a Super League.

Opposition to the proposals remains strong, however, with national leagues and associations united in their determination to block any breakaway competition.

Information from ESPN's James Olley was used in this report

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