Back in November, in an EXCLUSIVE, The Sun's Andrew Dillon reported that a "secret meeting" between Chelsea representatives and Carlo Ancelotti took place somewhere in London. The topic was supposed to be about Carlo coming back to Chelsea to replace Jose Mourinho. Ancelotti, as we know, had no such intentions, signing up for the Bayern job instead. Though supposedly he recommended Antonio Conte in his stead to Abramovich's advisors.
A month later, The Sun were back at it, with another EXCLUSIVE, this time from Martin Lipton and Ryan Kisiel, about how eventual Mourinho replacement Guus Hiddink had a "secret meeting" with Mourinho over breakfast to ease the transition. Hiddink later summarily denied any such meeting, and given the emphasis he placed on getting to know the players personally, I'm inclined to believe him over the tabloids.
But hey, maybe third time is the charm? It's Alan Nixon's turn. Here's The Sun's big breaking WORLD EXCLUSIVE news from earlier today (Wednesday) about yet another "secret meeting", this time involving a few more teams, too!
England's five biggest clubs have held secret talks about a new European Super League. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool all met with American billionaire Stephen Ross at London's Dorchester Hotel on Tuesday.
-source: The Sun
Their dastardly plan apparently involves creating this Super League for the biggest teams in Europe (we're talking riches, not league positions), with a guaranteed massive windfall of cash rather than the crapshoot and uncertainty of the Champions League. No more missing out on Champions League moneys when your team's biggest stars suddenly all get the yips, right, Chelsea?! No need to worry about unicorns like Leicester City. (Who even needs a domestic league?) Foolproof plan!
In all seriousness, this is not such a new idea and it certainly isn't outside the realm of possibilities that one day we'll get something like it. It's the logical evolution of the uppermost echelons of world football, where clubs are becoming more like franchises than the extensions of specific localities. There are far more Chelsea fans around the world than in London, for example. Guaranteeing European football for Chelsea (and thus consistent worldwide exposure) would no doubt be a welcome prospect by the people in charge of the club's books and, in all likelihood, by fans who want to see their team compete against the best at all times.
But is it going to happen now? Is this the first step in a brave new world? Is football as we know it about to die and then be reborn as an even more soulless money-making enterprise? Probably not. Yet.
"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."
-Arsenal statement; source: BBC
Stephen Ross, who, according to the BBC, wasn't actually even present at this meeting, is the owner of RSE Ventures, who are the parent company of Relevent Sports, who are the organizers of the International Champions Cup, the summer-time friendly tournament for some of the biggest teams in the world. Chelsea have participated multiple times and will do so again this summer, probably in the USA. The ICC now has games in China and Australia as well. And, unsurprisingly, all five of those teams who were present at this clandestine meeting will likely be participating this year in the ICC.
So, European Super League? Maybe. Perhaps even soon. But for now, it's far more likely that the suits were just discussing some ICC logistics (especially considering there are major continental competitions like the Euros or the Copa America that might interfere in some way). Or maybe it was all just cover and they would've gotten away with it, too, were it not for the meddling kids at The Sun.
Also, this could all be part of a bigger bargaining play by the top clubs; for more prize £, more power at top table, & no 40-team World Cup— Dan Roan (@danroan) March 2, 2016