Premier League’s ‘big five’ under pressure to explain London meeting

Arsenal deny it was to discuss breakaway league with US billionaire Stephen Ross

Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman at Old Trafford, the Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, City chief executive Ferran Soriano and Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre were all seen leaving a meeting with American billionaire Stephen Ross. Photograph: PA

Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman at Old Trafford, the Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, City chief executive Ferran Soriano and Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre were all seen leaving a meeting with American billionaire Stephen Ross. Photograph: PA

 

The Premier League’s so-called “big five clubs” are coming under pressure to explain why their representatives were seen leaving a meeting with the American billionaire Stephen Ross, the creator of the pre-season International Champions Cup, at the Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane on Tuesday.

According to the Sun, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool were holding discussions with Ross over the formation of a European Super League.

However, according to the Press Association “the talks were primarily about pre-season tournament the International Champions Cup” and not a discussion about a European Super League.

Arsenal confirmed that a meeting took place but denied it was to discuss a breakaway league. “We are strongly opposed to any breakaway,” they said.

“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.

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“Discussions were primarily around the ICC and formats of European competitions that would compliment the existing Premier League.”

Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman at Old Trafford, the Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, City chief executive Ferran Soriano and Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre were seen leaving the meeting with Ross.

The American real estate developer who has an estimated wealth of more than £3bn (€3.9bn) owns the Miami Dolphins and originated the pre-season International Champions Cup in the United States, China and Australia.

The tournament began in 2013 and last year featured Real Madrid, Manchester City, Roma, Milan, Internazionale, Manchester United, Barcelona, Chelsea, Benfica, Fiorentina and Paris Saint-Germain.

The Melbourne line-up has just been announced, with Atlético Madrid taking on Tottenham, Juventus and the A-League champions Melbourne Victory at the MCG in July.

Uefa said it had no concrete proposals to change the format of its European competitions but was constantly reviewing the situation.

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.”

The Premier League said it had no comment to make when contacted on Wednesday.

(Guardian sport)

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