It is understood representatives from the Premier League’s top clubs were discussing pre-season tournament arrangements in London on Tuesday, and NOT potential plans for a European Super League breakaway.
Reports have emerged that officials from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United held a meeting with American billionaire Stephen Ross – the owner of NFL team the Miami Dolphins.
Photographs of United’s Ed Woodward, Liverpool’s Ian Ayre, Chelsea’s Bruce Buck, City’s Ferran Soriano and Arsenal’s Ivan Gazidis leaving a meeting at the Dorchester Hotel together prompted speculation that another attempt could be made to form a new continental competition.
But Ross’ organisation is also behind the International Champions Cup series, which sees a number of English clubs take on other leading sides from across Europe in pre-season tournaments around the globe.
And an Arsenal spokesman, while confirming a meeting took place, insisted a European Super League breakaway was not on the agenda.
“We are strongly opposed to any breakaway,” he told Press Association Sport.
“Not Arsenal, nor any clubs at the meeting, are seeking changes to the Premier League and European landscape and no conversations surrounding displacing the Premier League or starting a European Super League took place.
“Discussions were primarily around the ICC and formats of European competitions that would complement the existing Premier League.”
It is understood Tuesday’s meeting was with Ross’ company, Relevent Sports, rather than the American billionaire himself. Involvement in the forthcoming International Champions Cup was mentioned, while changes to the Champions League format were also discussed.
However, any impetus for a breakaway European Super League is believed to come from mainland Europe due to the current strength of the Premier League.
UEFA confirmed it has no concrete proposals on the table to change the format of its European competitions, but is constantly reviewing the situation.
A lucrative new broadcasting deal is set to kick in from the start of the 2016/2017 Premier League season, which will dwarf the current financial rewards on offer for a successful European campaign.
When contacted by Press Association Sport on Wednesday, UEFA confirmed they were aware of the latest reports, but had no specific comment to make on the claims.
A spokesman said: “We are constantly reviewing the formats of our competitions in consultations with stakeholders and also with the ECA [European Club Association].
“At the moment, there are no concrete proposals on the table. We have just gone into a new three-year cycle for Champions League and Europa League, so we cannot offer any further comment at this stage.”
Liverpool attended the meeting after an invitation from a long-standing associate, whose tournament they played in two years ago and are likely to do so again this summer during their pre-season tour of the west coast of the United States.
It is understood the Merseyside club remain strong supporters of the existing structure of European football.
The Premier League said they had no comment to make when contacted on Wednesday.