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Monday, August 3, 1998 Published at 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK

Sport: Football

FA warns against Super League

Top European clubs want big matches for fans and big money

The Football Association has warned some of England's top clubs not to have anything to do with a proposed European Super League.

BBC sports correspondent Neil Bennett descibes the plans
Despite denials Arsenal and Manchester United are believed to have been involved in secret negotiations to set up a tournament without the backing of the ruling body of European football, Uefa.

Representatives of the groups interested in the new competition are meeting in central London and negotiations are said to have reached an advanced stage.

However the FA are unimpressed. The Chairman Keith Wiseman dismissed the plans as "Harlem Globetrotters stuff".

The silence from Europe's top clubs and denials from Arsenal and Manchester United representatives alongside other top European clubs have failed to end reports and speculation in Europe's press.

[ image: Premiership clubs would be furious if any English teams joined a Super League]
Premiership clubs would be furious if any English teams joined a Super League
The Premiership forbids English clubs from taking part in unsanctioned competitions. Any English Super League participants could face immediate suspension, with other English clubs furious at what would be seen as a betrayal.

It is envisaged the proposed league would replace the current Champions' League. At present the champions and some runners-up of domestic leagues play in the midweek Champions' League.

If the new proposals go ahead Europe's elite teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan would play each other regularly, generating huge revenues without the pressure of having to win their own domestic leagues.

Although the Champions' League is very lucrative, the clubs are known to be unhappy with it for two main reasons.

The first is money. Uefa negotiates the television rights and the clubs know they could make even more by doing this themselves.

Secondly, many clubs are unhappy with having to play Eastern European teams to qualify for the leagues.

Manchester United will have to travel to Azerbaijan or Poland to qualify for this year's competition.
[ image: Are Manchester United close to joining a European Super League?]
Are Manchester United close to joining a European Super League?
Manchester United fans have expressed their concern at the possible move.

Nick Clay from the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association said: "Fans are always the last to find out what is going on. If there is anything in these Super League talks and Manchester United are involved, I'm sure the supporters would want to know."

He said that fans loved local derbies and domestic games and would be very concerned about possible sanctions.

"I think European games would lose their appeal if we played those teams all the time," Mr Clay said.

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