Euro 2020 Special

European Super League Attempts a Reboot

The architects behind the European Super League (ESL) have attempted to revive the project with a set of new proposals.

The original proposal to create an elite competition composed of 20 of Europe’s biggest and richest clubs collapsed within days of its being announced in April 2021 amidst intense fan and political backlash and nine of the founding members pulled out, including all six English teams.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus, though, remain committed to the project despite legal setbacks. And through a company called A22, they have formed to represent them and have now come up with a new set of ideas which attempt to address many of the criticisms of the initial league.

There must be serious doubt whether the project will ever come to fruition, though.

There remains serious opposition to the project and English teams will not be part of it. And without them, it can have no claims to be regarded as a European Super League.


The new proposals

The new proposal is that the new league would consist of between 60 and 80 teams, all of whom would continue to play in their domestic leagues.

Each team would be guaranteed at least 14 games a season, and there would be a form of promotion and relegation, one of the major criticisms of the original proposal.

A22 argues that European football is in danger of collapsing, and the clubs that bear the financial risk are forced to sit by and watch whilst sporting and financial foundations around them crumble.

In fact, European teams are worried by the increased dominance of the Premier League. In the recent annual survey of the richest clubs in Europe by revenue, 11 out of the top 20, and 16 out of the top 30 were Premier League teams.

For clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona, a European Super League is the best chance to redress the balance.


No English teams involved

However, one of the fundamental flaws in the proposed new league is that, by necessity, it will not involve any English teams.

After the six original protagonists: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur withdrew from the initiative, not only were all of them fined heavily, but they were forced to give binding legal commitments that they would not be involved in such schemes again.

To breach those undertakings would seem them ejected from the league.

In the forthcoming UK White Paper, it is proposed that an independent regulator for football will be appointed, whose remit will include powers to prevent English clubs joining the league.

Without the major English teams, any legitimacy that the new league would have to call itself “Super” would surely be undermined.

And that is without taking into account the intense backlash the clubs involved would face from their own supporters if they were found to have been in dialogue about signing up to such a venture in the future.


A Wolf wearing Grandma’s clothes

It is not only in the UK that the new proposals have met with very negative feedback.

Javier Tebas, president of La Liga, has been one of the staunchest critics of the ESL initiative from the outset, and he has described the revamped plans as a direct threat to domestic leagues around the continent.

He has gone further, calling the new ESL a wolf disguised in Grandma’s clothes, trying to fool European football whilst “his nose and his teeth are very big.”

Tebas has questioned where the revenues for the new league are to come from if they are not diverted from existing leagues and competitions.


Legal obstacles

There are also considerable legal obstacles that the new league will have to overcome if it ever hopes to come to fruition.

The remaining members of the original ESL had claimed that UEFA and FIFA had broken European competition laws by threatening to sanction clubs and players who opted to play in a breakaway league.

However, in a report issued by the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, it was ruled that their actions were compatible with EU law.

Although the opinion is not binding and a final ruling will be issued by a European Grand Chamber in a few months time, it is difficult to see the judgement being overturned.




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