European Super League: What’s happened? Which clubs are involved? What’s been the reaction? How likely is it? What are the potential ramifications? What would be the format and who is financing it?
Six English teams are part of plans for a breakaway European Super League, but what do we know so far?
What has happened?
Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the European Super League, governed by its ‘Founding Clubs’.
The proposal involves the clubs forming their own competition to rival the UEFA Champions League.
The Premier League’s big-six clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham – are all involved.
Sky Sports News has contacted the six Premier League clubs for comment; Manchester United and Tottenham declined to give a response regarding the proposals.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester
United, Real Madrid, and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as ‘Founding Clubs’.
It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.
German giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are not included and nor are French champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Why has this come about now?
The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model.
Further, for a number of years, the Founding Clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis.
The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid.
In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions.
The Founding Clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.
Those involved in the proposed breakaway may point to this being a mere ‘extra’ midweek fixture, though, with an already-packed schedule, it is not as simple or straightforward as that.
The Super League website reads: “The Super League is a new European competition between 20 top clubs comprised of 15 founders and five annual qualifiers. There will be two groups of 10 clubs each, playing home and away fixtures within the group each year.
“Following the group stage, eight clubs will qualify for a knockout tournament, playing home and away until the single-match Super League championship, in a dramatic four-week end to the season.
“Games will be played midweek, and all clubs will remain in their domestic leagues.”
How would the league be financed?
About $5billion has been committed to this new project by the American bank JP Morgan.
What has been said so far?
Florentino Perez, Real Madrid president and the first chairman of the Super League, said: “We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires.”
Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United and vice-chairman of the Super League said: “By bringing 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.”
What happens next?
Going forward, the Founding Clubs say they “look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole.”
What has the reaction been?
The plans have prompted widespread condemnation, with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, speaking before the announcement on Sunday night, labeling the English clubs involved a “disgrace” and calling for them to be sanctioned by the Premier League.
Governing bodies and leagues across Europe are viewing the proposal as an attempted power grab.
The Premier League released a statement saying a super league would “destroy” the premise of open competition.
“Fans of any club in England and across Europe can currently dream that their team may climb to the top and play against the best,” said the statement.
“We believe that the concept of a European Super League would destroy this dream.”
UEFA was similarly critical in a joint-statement with the English Football Association, the Premier League, the Spanish FA, La Liga, the Italian FA, and Serie A and threatened to ban participating clubs from their domestic competitions.
“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sports in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.
“The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.”
Even Prime Minister Boris Johnson has had his say, tweeting: “Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action. They would strike at the heart of the domestic game and will concern fans across the country.
“The clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps.”
How realistic is this?
This does feel significant, both for the future of English and European football.
We have been here before – namely Project Big Picture – but what feels different this time is the level of planning and what may or may not have been signed.
The furious reaction from the Premier League, UEFA, and other European leagues signify just how much this threatens the integrity of domestic and European leagues.
Clubs would need the approval of the associations, who govern the domestic competitions, to join an unsanctioned breakaway league.
“I cannot envisage any scenario where such permission would be granted,” said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters in a memo to all 20 Premier League clubs.
What would the ramifications be?
Potentially huge. Under Premier League rule L.9, which all 20 clubs sign up to, clubs must obtain ‘prior written approval of the Board if they wish to enter to anything other than the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, FA Community Shield, Carabao Cup or any other competition sanctioned by the county association.
Any player whose club agrees to join an unsanctioned competition risks not playing in any UEFA or FIFA competition, including the European Championships and World Cup.
In January, FIFA had said that a breakaway league would not be recognized and that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organized by FIFA or their respective confederation.”