A group of 12 English, Spanish and Italian elite clubs have dramatically divided European football by announcing the formation of a largely closed Super League. The clubs are leaving the existing structure of the UEFA-run Champions League despite warnings that they will be banned from their domestic competitions and could take legal action.
The seismic move to stir up the world’s greatest sport is being developed in part by the American owners of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, who also operate US closed-league franchises.
The move came after the rebel clubs rejected a promise on Friday to support UEFA – the European football association’s – plan to expand the Champions League from 2024. The deal was supposed to satisfy the clubs’ desire for more games, apparently because they couldn’t control the sale of rights to the existing competition.
The Super League schedule was first released in January but has re-emerged this weekend.
Real Madrid President Florentino Perez would be the founding chairman of the SL, who said he wanted to “start as soon as possible” as a 20-team competition that plays like the current Champions League and Europa League during the week.
“We will help football at all levels and bring it to its rightful place in the world,” Perez said in a statement. “Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans. As large clubs, we are responsible for responding to your wishes.”
No evidence has been presented that fans want a Super League. Fan groups across Europe even criticized the current expansion plan of the Champions League as a “power grab” last week.
Currently only 12 clubs have registered – none from France or Germany – but the SL is hoping to have three more as permanent members. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are the other founding members alongside Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan. Five spots would remain open to be determined each year based on the previous season’s results.
UEFA warned clubs that joining the “cynical project” out of self-interest would lead to their being banned from participating in other competitions – national, European or global. It was said that their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.
The declaration was made jointly with the leagues and national governing bodies from England, Spain and Italy.
“By bringing together the world’s best clubs and players to play against each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increasing financial support for the wider football pyramid,” said he Joel Glazer, co-owner of Manchester United and vice chairman of SL.
Another vice chairman of the new competition would be Andrea Agenlli, who on Sunday evening resigned his role as chairman of the European Club Association, which was working with UEFA on expanding the Champions League to 36 teams. Agenlli also resigned as a member of the UEFA Executive Committee, breaking his previously close friendship with the governing body’s president, Aleksander Ceferin.
The UEFA boss is determined not to give clubs greater control over the sale of television and commercial rights.
“We joined forces at this critical moment,” said Agnelli, “to change European competition, to put the game we love on a sustainable footing for the long term, to significantly increase solidarity and to unite fans and amateur players to make a regular contribution. ” Flow of headlines. “
The rebel clubs are all members of the ECA, which has a working agreement with UEFA signed in 2019 that obliges all of its members to participate in and respect the Champions League and other European competitions until the 2023-24 season.
While FIFA issued a statement in January warning that Super League players could be banned from the World Cup, FIFA has not denied that its President Gianni Infantino was involved in the runaway talks with officials, including Real Madrid’s Perez, was involved.
“FIFA can only express its rejection of a ‘closed European breakaway league’ outside the international football structures,” said the world association in a statement on Sunday, without answering questions about Infantino’s role.
The Premier League said the Super League would “undermine the appeal of the entire game” by violating the principles of open competition. There was even an intervention from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who warned that a Super League would be “very harmful”.
The Super League confirmed on Sunday that each of the 15 founding members would receive a share of at least 3.5 billion euros in the initial infrastructure grants.
The Associated Press previously reported that this money would be split between four levels of clubs, with the top six receiving € 350 million ($ 420 million) each. The competition would start with two groups of 10 teams, with the top three from each group reaching the quarter-finals. The teams finishing fourth and fifth would be involved in a playoff to complete the round of 16. The knockout phase would still include two-legged quarter-finals and semi-finals before a single game final.
The previously announced Super League proposal hoped to generate € 4 billion ($ 4.86 billion) annually from the broadcasters.
By comparison, UEFA stated that the total commercial revenue for the past three seasons was 3.25 billion euros (3.9 billion US dollars) from sales of the rights to the Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup cheat.
For the 2021-24 sales cycle, UEFA is expected to sell approximately $ 14 billion in broadcast and sponsorship deals for its club competitions, which include the new third division Europa Conference League.
These sales were made around the world as a result of the top clubs’ legal obligation to play under the UEFA ECA agreement. Any violation of the cooperation agreement would likely result in legal threats and lawsuits.
“We will look at all the measures we have at all levels, both in the judiciary and in sport, to prevent this from happening,” UEFA said of the Super League. “Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit. It cannot be otherwise.”