Clubs that have signed up for the new European Super League (ESL), including Manchester United and Manchester City, are getting calls from players and business owners worried about the impact of the grandiose plans, sources told ESPN.
A number of key players from the six Premier League clubs that have signed contracts for the new venture – United, City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – have expressed concern over UEFA’s threat to ban them from playing for their country in international tournaments.
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There is speculation that the suspension could take effect as early as this summer’s European Championships.
Sources told ESPN that officials who were able to contact United within 48 hours of the Super League announcement on Sunday night told the club they were confident the players would not be banned from international competition.
Separate sources have added that Arsenal’s players know nothing about their plans for the European Super League.
Super League president Florentino Perez said he is confident that this season’s Champions League contenders will not be excluded for their role in the proposed breakaway group.
However, many players remain frustrated that their participation in future World Championships has been balanced against the huge financial rewards offered by the ESL, without any consultation, either directly or through the unions.
Sources have told ESPN that United do not see the move as a break from the Premier League and remain convinced that the threat of exclusion is hollow due to the huge commercial appeal of the big six, particularly in terms of transfer negotiations.
UEFA President Alexander Zeferin has spoken out against the recently announced European Super League.
United, led by the Glazer family and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, wants to immediately begin discussions with UEFA on how to fit the ESL into the football calendar.
Sources told ESPN that the club plans to come up with evidence that the existing first rounds of European football are boring and predictable, substantiated by attendance at stadiums and television ratings.
It feels like the only way forward is to have the bigger teams play each other more regularly, not just in the final weeks of the season.
Six rebel clubs – six from the Premier League, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus – are pushing for the ESL to provide more financial support for the football pyramid, providing €10 billion in solidarity payments to be spread over an initial period of 23 years.
If the project goes ahead, there will be 15 permanent places, with non-ESL clubs able to compete for five qualifying places through UEFA or national competitions.
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