European Super League: Who are the owners of the English clubs of the planned breakaway league?

Six of England's top football clubs initially confirmed their involvement in a breakaway European Super League, but following fierce criticism two now look to be reconsidering.

The move announced by the top clubs earlier this week was widely condemned by politicians, former players, fans, football authorities, and even Prince William in his role as president of the FA.

Manchester United and Liverpool - together with the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus from other leagues - are among the leading members of the new competition that has been established as a rival to UEFA's Champions League.

But on Tuesday night both Chelsea and Manchester City will withdraw from the proposed league, ITV News understands.

Many fans are against the proposals. Credit: PA

Many fans have been outraged over the proposals, while some managers said they only learnt about the plans when they appeared in the news on Sunday and they did not back them.

So, who are the people involved in the planned European Super League and what is the US franchise model it will be based on?

Which English clubs are involved?

Six of the biggest names in English football had joined the Super League as founding members, however two are now preparing to withdraw

  • Arsenal FC

  • Chelsea FC - ITV News understands they are drawing up documentation to withdraw from the planned European breakaway league

  • Liverpool FC

  • Manchester City - ITV News understands the team are preparing to withdraw

  • Manchester United

  • Tottenham Hotspur

But who is really involved?

With many fans outraged by the proposals and managers saying they had been given no prior warning of Sunday's announcement, it is the owners of the clubs who are behind the decisions.

So, who's who at the top of football?

  • Arsenal

The Gunners are controlled by Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE), an American company that owns several sports teams, including the Los Angeles Rams American football team, three stadiums with one under construction, two professional esports franchised teams, four TV channels, an internet TV channel, four radio stations and 19 magazines.

KSE is owned by Stan Kroenke, who is worth nearly £6 billion, according to Forbes.

Reports suggest Mr Kroenke is a vice-chair of the Super League.

The 73-year-old has not publicly commented on the European Super League plans.

Unlike others, the Kroenke family has reportedly put none of its own money into Arsenal’s transfers in the past five years.

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, far left. Credit: PA
  • Chelsea

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003.

The 54-year-old is worth £9 billion and is said to have invested £247 million in Chelsea in the 2018-19 season.

Abramovich has been accused of purchasing Chelsea at the behest of Vladimir Putin, but he denies this.

Mr Abramovich has not publicly commented on the European Super League plans.

Roman Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2010. Credit: PA
  • Liverpool

Fenway Sports Group (FSG), which also owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team, bought Liverpool in 2010.

US investor John Henry - who is worth an estimated £2 billion, according to Forbes - is the principal owner of FSG and Tom Werner, a TV producer and business person, controls the second largest block of shares.

Mr Henry is a vice-chair of the Super League but has not publicly commented on his team's bid to join it.

In March, Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Lebron James and his longtime business partners brought a 10% stake in FSG.

Liverpool owners John Henry and Tom Werner. Credit: PA
  • Manchester City

Manchester City is owned by City Football Group, which in turn is majority owned by Abu Dhabi United Group, which is owned by Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, and the half-brother of the emir of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE.

Sheikh Mansour, as he is known, has owned City since 2008 is said to be worth at least £17 billion, while his family is estimated to be worth at least £700 billion.

The 50-year-old is reported to have put £1.3 billion into the club.

Sheikh Mansour has not publicly commented on the Super League plans.

As well as Manchester City, Sheikh Mansour also owns New York City and Melbourne City football teams through the City Football Group.

Sheikh Mansour has owned Manchester City since 2008. Credit: PA
  • Manchester United

Manchester United is majority owned by the six Glazer siblings - Avram, Joel, Kevin, Bryan, Darcie and Edward - following the death of their father, Malcolm, in 2014.

Malcolm Glazer bought the club in 2005.

Joel Glazer is vice-chair of the Super League.

In a statement released on Sunday, Joel Glazer said the creation of the European Super League would bring "together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid."

Avram (left) and Joel (right) Glazer own Manchester United along with their four other siblings. Credit: PA
  • Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs is owned by ENIC International Ltd, which is owned by the Joe Lewis - the only Brit to own one of the six clubs which have signed up to the Super League.

The London-born billionaire is a tax exile in the Bahamas.

Mr Lewis has not publicly commented on the Super League, but former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said he believes the 84-year-old is only "half-interested" in the team's games and sees it as an "investment".

“He’s sitting on a massive investment anyway and it’s a chance to make more money for his investment and that’s what he’ll do," the former England manager told talkSPORT.

Joe Lewis (right) is the owner of Tottenham Hotspur. Credit: PA

Why are the owners of the clubs keen to join the European Super League?

Likely due to the money involved.

The European Super League would be highly lucrative for the clubs involved and critics argue money is the motivating factor behind teams wanting to join.

The clubs involved would share a £3 billion (€3.5 billion) fund to spend on infrastructure projects and to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the game.

The League said they will make "solidarity payments" to European football which will exceed those currently offered by UEFA.

Investment bank JP Morgan confirmed it will be financing the new League. It is understood that it will underwrite around £4.3 billion ($6 billion) in loans for teams involved.

The champions of the League could bank £212 million if they win every game and even if a team were to lose every game, they would still net themselves £130 million, analysis by talkSPORT suggests.

For the 2019-2020 Champions League, the winners took home £16.4 million, but financial rewards for winning games on the way and progressing to different stages, TV rights and a teams' previous performances all count.

Bayern Munich earned an estimated £112.3 million in 2019-2020, while Liverpool took home an estimated almost £96 million in 2018-19 - much smaller amounts than they could be winning for their owners in the European Super League.

Bayern Munich earned £112.3 million in with their 2019-2020 Champions League win. Credit: AP

What is the US franchise model which the European Super League would be based on?

Unlike the planned Super League with its 15 founding teams who would be playing each year, teams aren't automatically in the Champions League.

Currently, four of the six interested clubs are not in the Premier League's top four places and so would not qualify for next season's Champions League - with Arsenal's only realistic route into it being through winning the Europa League.

If you're not in a league you won't win any money, get paid for any TV rights or make any cash from fixtures.

Currently, the Champions League has an open-system model in which the strongest-performing teams are promoted and the weakest are relegated.

Not only does this keep fans on their toes but it also ensures huge amounts are paid on players' transfer fees.

While in the US, the major basketball, baseball and American football leagues are all closed-systems, meaning teams are in the league irrespective of performance.

While fans are likely to prefer the former, the latter is better for business - the certainty of remaining in the highest level of a league provides incentives for teams to promote and grow their brands, says Marc Edelman, a Professor of Law at the Zicklin School of Business (City University of New York) specialising in sports and online gaming.

“The winners are the team owners, they stay in the league perpetually, even if they perform poorly," Edelman told ITV News.

“There’s no threat of relegation" and "owners can decide not to invest in players".

However, he believes the European Super League would put in laws to ensure a high level of play to secure worldwide broadcast contracts.

A closed-league also creates a monopoly, Edelman explains.

With no ability to gain promotion, the only way a town or city can have a team is if one decides to move there or if the league decides to expand, but this carries a financial cost.

Currently there are 32 teams in America's National Football League which operates under a closed-system, he estimates the NFL could charge $2 billion for a newly created team or the rights to one if they wanted to expand to a 33rd.

"Without promotion, you have to buy your way in," Edelman explains.

He continues that many of the owners of the six English clubs interested in the Super League own teams in the US.

He cites the example of the Glazer family who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who play in the NFL and "they can see how lucrative" being part of the closed-league is.

“I believe the ability to sell the rights to the US has led to big eyes amongst the owners who want to create a Premier League on steroids," he says.