Chelsea, along with five other members of the English ‘big six’, announced on Sunday night that the ‘founding members’ are the new European Super League (ESL).
The Blues join Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United at Tottenham, while six English entries from six other European giants have confirmed their membership.
AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid make up the currently confirmed 12 other teams still involved, with three more remaining.
News of the ESL will no doubt dominate manager press conferences this week, and for one Premier League boss that has already been the case.
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Thomas Tuchel of Chelsea was the first manager of the ‘founding member’ club to confront reporters and admitted that talking about ESL would be a distraction for his players.
“Maybe yes [club speaking to the players] to help the situation so as not to affect our preparations. The players and I trust the club, we are employees. It is best not to interfere in sports politics and this situation. It’s above our heads, ”he said.
“It’s a big topic, everyone is talking. It may be impossible for players not to influence it, but it’s too early and there are a lot of opinions. We hope we can stay calm and have an impact on players not distracting, and we hope we can bring performance for tomorrow’s game. “
With Chelsea fifth in the league and just one point behind West Ham in fourth, any obstruction by the Blues could be very costly in their fight to finish the top four.
Chelsea face a home game against Brighton on Tuesday night before a trip via London where they will lead West Ham in a huge match between the two London teams.
With the announcement of ESL and UEFA, the English FA and the Premier League responded that any team participating in the ESL will be banned from competing, the relevance of the Premier League table for the end of the season has yet to be determined.
However, if West Ham manage to take advantage of the disrupted Chelsea, Champions League football will be in the hands of Hammer no matter what drop the ESL announcement brings.
Tuchel faced additional questions about whether ESL news would affect his team on the field, and the boss couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t have negative reactions to his team.
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“Obviously I hope not,” he said. “Everyone wants a calm atmosphere and situation to have full focus. If we have it, maybe not.”
West Ham have a bad record against the ‘big six’ this season by winning just once in 11 matches, a 2-1 win over Tottenham in February.
The Hammers drew two more points from the coveted clubs with draws against Arsenal and Manchester City, and Saturday marks their last chance to improve on this record this season.