Football: Super league `split'

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The Independent Online
EUROPE'S FOOTBALL leagues are still fundamentally divided over whether to join a breakaway super league or stay within the confines of Uefa, European football's governing body - despite announcing "unanimous" support for Uefa on Tuesday.

Following a meeting in Geneva to discuss proposals by the Italian-based company, Media Partners - a two-division, 32-team league and a knock-out cup competition - a Professional Leagues' spokesman said: "The essence of the meeting was that [the leagues] mandated Uefa to reform [its] competitions."

It is understood, however, that representatives from several countries, including Italy and Germany, made it clear that some of their clubs - including Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich - would prefer to sign up with Media Partners. A Leagues' spokesman said there had been "moments of antagonism" at the meeting, a statement that appears to confirm dissent is still rife. Other clubs approached by Media Partners, including Manchester United and Arsenal, are also still actively involved in planning a super league and have informed their national federations of where they stand.

Uefa is planning an expansion of the Champions' League and a merging of the Uefa Cup and Cup-Winners' Cup - and is also exploring avenues that will strengthen its effective monopoly on European football. It is seeking to have its reforms exempted from European Union competition regulations.

The whole matter may ultimately be decided in the European Court. Dissident clubs will argue they have a right to take part in a breakaway super league while not being expelled from their domestic leagues. Uefa will argue they cannot. Should it come to that, Uefa may find itself losing out, according to legal sources.

More football, pages 22, 23