Chelsea, along with five other members of the English ‘big six’, announced on Sunday night that they were ‘founder members’ of a new European Super League (ESL).
The Blues join Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United at Tottenham as the six English entrants with six other European giants confirmed as members.
AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid make up the currently confirmed 12 other teams involved with three more to follow.
The news of the ESL will no doubt dominate manager press conferences this week and for one Premier League boss, this has already been the case.
Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel was the first manager of a ‘founder member’ club to face the press and he has admitted that talk of the ESL will be a distraction for his players.
“Maybe yes [club speaking to the players] to help the situation so we aren’t impacted in our preparations. The players and me trust the club, we are employees. It’s best we don’t get involved in sports politics and this situation. It’s above our heads,” he said.
“It’s a big subject, everyone is talking. It’s maybe impossible for the players not to be influenced by it but it’s too early and there are a lot of opinions out there. Hopefully, we can stay calm, have the influence on the players so they don’t get distracted, and hopefully, we can bring the performance to tomorrow’s game.”
With Chelsea fifth in the league and just one point behind West Ham in fourth, any distraction for the Blues could be very costly in their fight for a top-four finish.
Chelsea face a home match against Brighton on Tuesday night before a trip across London to take on West Ham in a huge fixture between London’s top two teams.
With the ESL announcement and UEFA, the English FA and the Premier League responding that any team involved in the ESL would be banned from their competitions, the relevance of the Premier League table come the end of the season is yet to be determined.
However, if West Ham are able to take advantage of a distracted Chelsea, Champions League football will be in the Hammers’ hands no matter what the fallout of the ESL announcement brings.
Tuchel faced further questions about if the news of the ESL will impact his team on the pitch and the boss could not be certain that it will not have an adverse reaction on his squad.
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“Clearly I hope not,” he said. “Everyone wishes for a calm atmosphere and situation to have full focus. Do we have it, maybe not.”
West Ham have a poor record against the ‘big six’ this season winning just once in 11 matches, a 2-1 victory over Tottenham in February.
The Hammers have taken a further two points off the want-away clubs with draws against Arsenal and Manchester City and Saturday marks their last chance to improve on that record this season.