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LONDON, April 19 -- Twelve top European football clubs, including six English Premier League sides, have announced to join a new European Super League, despite condemnation from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and other football governing bodies earlier on Sunday.
The Premier League "Big Six" Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham together with Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid of Spain as well as Italy's AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus all agreed to join the European Super League, a new mid-week competition founded by the 12 clubs.
The league is planned to include 20 clubs, starting in August with two groups of ten and playing home and away fixtures with the top six in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals, reported Xinhua news agency.
Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.
Real Madrid president and the first chairman of the Super League, Florentino Perez 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."
Several hours prior to the announcement, UEFA released a statement condemning the plan in advance, reiterating that they and the football governing bodies of England, Italy, and Spain "will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever."
The European football governing body said it will consider all measures available in order to prevent the league from taking place. It also insisted that the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European, or international level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.
Even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described on Twitter that the Super League "would be very damaging for football" and urged "the clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps."
However, the 12 founding clubs believed that they need to create a format for top clubs to provide higher-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.
"By bringing together the world's greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid," said Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United and vice-chairman of the Super League.