16 of Europe's leading soccer clubs have held secret talks over a European Super League, according to Federation Internationale de Football Association documents obtained by German publication Der Spiegel. One of the consulting companies presented the FC "real Madrid" the relevant plan in October.
Der Spiegel listed Real Madrid, AC Milan, Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester United as the seven clubs pushing the idea forward but suggested that others, including, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool would enjoy protected status and not face relegation.
The documents reveal that the "initial guests" will be Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Marseille, Inter Milan and AS Roma.
The latest proposal comes ahead of next year's talks over Champions League rights and the distribution of prize money in the new cycle from 2021.
In a fresh round of "football leaks" on the eve of the weekend's fixtures, Der Spiegel also reported significant claims over FFP abuse involving Manchester City and another top European club, as well as allegations against FIFA president Gianni Infantino. "The clubs win. But a European Super League model would hurt football and, in the long term, will hurt the big clubs too, because it will never provide the economic figures that the big clubs think it will".
In their report, they assert that Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had "betrayed" the smaller clubs around Europe by being involved in plans to undermine the Champions League, a competition that is becoming increasingly hard to reach for teams from lesser footballing nations.
Further details on the Super League from the documents have also been released. While such a Super League likely would replace the Champions League, it is not known how it would affect clubs' domestic leagues.
Manchester United also declined to respond to the Der Spiegel article, while Sky Sports News has attempted to contact Chelsea.
Watzke also said Dortmund under no circumstances would leave the German Bundesliga, but beyond that, the club would "keep all its options open".