European football is on the verge of collapse. Twelve big clubs launched, Monday, April 19, their “Super League”, a private competition dedicated to supplant the Champions League. After decades of shaking the specter of a schism, the top leaders of the continent have finally taken the plunge led by Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, or Manchester United, all multiple winners of the C1 and global brands. Rebel clubs claim to establish a controversial near-closed league system comparable to the North American basketball (NBA) or American football (NFL) championships, a prospect “Disapproved” Monday by Fifa.
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“Twelve of the most important European clubs announce that they have reached an agreement for the creation of a new competition,“ The Super League ”, governed by its founding clubs. AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham have united as founding clubs ”, can we read in a press release disseminated by the websites of several clubs concerned.
According to its promoters, the Super League would operate in the form of a regular season between 20 clubs, fifteen of them being automatically qualified each year and the other five chosen. “Through a system based on their performance from the previous season”. At the end of this first phase starting in August, play-offs would be organized until May to award the trophy. Matches would in principle be held midweek, competing directly with the boxes reserved for the Champions League, but not with the national championships traditionally held on weekends.
The new competition, explain its promoters, is dedicated to “Generate additional resources for the whole football pyramid”. “In return for their commitment, the founding clubs will receive a one-off payment of around 3.5 billion euros intended solely for infrastructure investments and to offset the impact of the Covid-19 crisis”, continue the organizers, also promising a women’s Super League. If this figure is confirmed, it assumes much higher revenues than those obtained by UEFA for all of its club competitions (Champions League, Europa League and European Supercup), which had generated 3.2 billion dollars. euros in TV revenue in 2018-2019, before a pandemic that severely affected the European sports rights market.
Threat of exclusion
It remains to be seen what responses UEFA and Fifa will bring to this attempt at secession. Fifa “Can only disapprove of a closed and dissident European League”, reacted the international federation on Monday, inviting all parties to “A calm, constructive and balanced dialogue” on the subject.
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UEFA, in a press release co-signed by several national championships, warned on Sunday April 18 that any dissident club would be excluded from national and international competitions, and that their players could no longer play for the national team, for example at the Euro or the World Cup. We will have to see if this threat complies with European competition law, which suggests a possible legal battle.