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English clubs cool European breakaway reports

London: The English Premier League's biggest clubs on Wednesday moved to distance themselves from a report that they met to discuss forming a breakaway European Super League. The Sun newspaper claimed representatives from Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool held "secret talks" with officials from a company owned by American billionaire Stephen Ross on Tuesday.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, City chief executive Ferran Soriano, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre were pictured on the paper's back page after reportedly leaving a meeting at a luxury London hotel. But an Arsenal spokesman said: "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 (International Champions Cup) and formats of European competitions that would compliment the existing Premier League." United and Liverpool are understood to be opposed to any changes to the current football landscape, either domestically or in Europe. Ross's company, Relevent Sports, organises the International Champions Cup friendly tournament, which features pre-season matches around the world between some of Europe's biggest clubs.

In August 2014 it staged a match between United and Real Madrid at Michigan Stadium that drew 109,318 fans -- a record for a football match in the United States. Ross, who owns NFL outfit the Miami Dolphins, is not believed to have attended Tuesday's meeting. Karl Heinz Rummenigge, president of the European Club Association (ECA), recently suggested that games in the Champions League could be staged in east Asia or the USA.

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