Premier League clubs deny European Super League rumour
Top clubs from the Barclays Premier League have moved to deny they are plotting to quit the division in favour of a breakaway European Super League.
Reports on Wednesday claimed officials from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United met with American billionaire Stephen Ross, the owner of Miami Dolphins NFL team.
Photographs of club officials leaving a meeting at the Dorchester Hotel in London together prompted speculation that another attempt could be made to form a continental league competition.
However, some of those clubs involved have since stressed that any idea of a so-called Super League was not raised - with Arsenal announcing they are "strongly opposed" to the formation of a breakaway league.
Ross' organisation is behind the International Champions Cup series, which sees a number of Premier League teams take on other leading sides from across Europe in show-piece matches, often held as pre-season tournaments around the globe.
But Press Association Sport understands the meeting was with Ross' company, Relevent Sports, rather than the American himself and talks involved primarily the forthcoming International Champions Cup (ICC) and also potential changes to the current Champions League format.
Any impetus for a breakaway European Super League is believed to come from mainland Europe due to the financial strength of the Premier League.
But an Arsenal spokesman, while confirming a meeting took place, told Press Association Sport: ''We are strongly opposed to any breakaway.
''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.
''Discussions were primarily around the ICC and formats of European competitions that would complement the existing Premier League.''
Manchester United made no official comment on the meeting, but are understood to be comfortable with the existing landscape and fixture schedule, so much so that domestically they even support retaining FA Cup replays.
Meanwhile, Liverpool attended after an invitation from a long-standing associate whose tournament they played in two years ago - and it is understood the club remain strong supporters of the existing structure of European football.
A European Club Association (ECA) spokesperson, asked about the meeting, told Press Association Sport: ''There's a lot of discussion around the future of European competitions at the moment, as always ahead of a new competition cycle.
"Discussions are taking place at different levels, but, for the moment, nothing concrete was brought up at ECA.''
A lucrative new broadcasting deal is set to kick in from the start of the 2016-2017 Premier League season, which will dwarf the current financial rewards on offer for a successful European campaign.
A UEFA spokesman told Press Association Sport: ''We are constantly reviewing the formats of our competitions in consultations with stakeholders and also with the ECA.
''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 declined to comment.