Manchester United, Arsenal resign membership of ECA after European Super League announcement

Kroenke and Woodward

Manchester United and Arsenal have resigned from the European Club Association (ECA) and Ed Woodward has stepped down from his role with UEFA after plans for a European Super League were announced.

A statement released on Sunday night confirmed 12 clubs, including United and Arsenal, had agreed to form a breakaway league which would be run by the founding clubs.

Goal understands the decision to join the Super League means both clubs have resigned from the ECA and Woodward will no longer hold his UEFA role and Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham has resigned from his position on the ECA board in a move which further signals the club’s intent to push forward with this controversial plan. 

United’s executive vice-chairman Woodward was appointed to UEFA’s Professional Football Strategy Council as an ECA representative in September 2017. His role was to advise and assist in the structure of European football’s governing body but, with the ESL breaking away from UEFA’s traditional European competitions, he will no longer occupy that role.

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While Venkatesham was only elected to the ECA board two months ago. At the time a statement from the club read: “We’re delighted that Vinai has been appointed to the European Clubs’ association board. The ECA represents clubs across Europe and is central to helping shape the future of the game with UEFA and FIFA.”

United also confirmed co-owner Joel Glazer will be vice chair of the new league.

Both of the club’s involvement in this breakaway league also means they will no longer be a part of the ECA, which is the professional body that represents the interests of clubs in UEFA competitions. This move is another statement of intent that these 12 founding clubs are keen to push their new league through.

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A statement released late on Sunday said: “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its founding clubs.

“AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs. It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.

“Going forward, the founding clubs look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole.”

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According to the statement, the competition will feature “20 participating clubs with 15 founding clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.

“Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.

“An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals. Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions.

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“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.”


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