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Wednesday, August 5, 1998 Published at 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK

Sport: Football

English football teams confirm superleague talks

Europe's big match but for how long? The Champions League final

Manchester United and Arsenal have confirmed rumours that they are in talks with top European teams to form a superleague and have said they are interested in joining if it emerges.

The BBC's Neil Bennett: 'The idea has not gone down well with the governing bodies'
Both teams say that they are "totally committed" to the FA Premier League, however, and that they will not join a new league without "all appropriate consultations."

Dutch football club Ajax also issued a similar statement.

Superleague teams could get the boot

Fifa and Uefa, the world and European governing bodies, have warned that those involved in a breakaway could find themselves in the football wilderness.

The Football Association's spokesman Steve Double said that was a worst case scenario which could hopefully be avoided.

[ image: The Premiership: What will it mean if the superleague goes ahead?]
The Premiership: What will it mean if the superleague goes ahead?
On Monday the Football Association warned top England teams not to have anything to do with the proposals.

The Premiership rules forbid English clubs from taking part in unsanctioned competitions. Any English superleague participants could face immediate suspension, but according to Neil Bennett, the BBC's Sports Correspondent, this would be in nobody's interest.

Compromise could be difficult

BBC Sports Correspondent Neil Bennett explains the implications
Uefa has said that it would be willing to consider any changes put forward by the top clubs but Neil Bennett says it is difficult to see how it could back down from the principle that any club, no matter how rich or poor, should have the opportunity to compete at the top level.

According to two leading German football officials, Uefa has plans for a superleague of its own.

Uefa's spokesman, Frits Ahlstroem, did not confirm this, but said the organization had plans for the future which could be made public when it meets in October.

"The difference between Uefa and the other group is that we have to speak to everyone involved before we make any of our intentions public," he said.

Money is behind the move

The prospect of more money is what has motivated the would-be superleague teams to risk expulsion.

Currently only the top two teams in each country can play in Europe.

The European matches are very lucrative - they bring in millions to the clubs involved each season - but they are not a guaranteed source of income.

"These clubs quite fancy the idea of playing every season at this level of competition - in other words making themselves permanent members of Europe's elite," says Neil Bennett.

English fans interviewed by the BBC worry that they would find it expensive to attend their teams' matches in Europe and said they would not want their teams to be expelled from the Premiership or the FA Cup because of the move.

"If it's going to take us away from the Premiership, then I'd rather avoid the European league," one fan said. "It's the bread and butter over here - we aren't going to be able to afford going all over Europe."

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