The European Super League over the past few weeks has taken the center stage in issues relating to football where some of Europe’s elite and powerful clubs tried to break away from the traditional UEFA-organized competitions. Here is all you need to know about the ESL.
Football clubs in Europe have over the years raised concerns on receiving more money from television broadcast rights than the organizers of the competition; in this case, the UEFA Champions League.
In 2009, Florentino Perez, President of Real Madrid Football Club said in an interview with (Source) that they would want to make the Champions League bigger for the ‘bigger clubs’ in the near future.
Fast-forward to December 2015, an American radio presenter, Charlie Stillitano arranged a meeting with Florentino Perez concerning plans for an European Super League. Charlie Stillitano is the Executive Chairman of Relevant Sports Group, organizers of the International Champions Cup (ICC).
Charlie Stillitano in the course of the meeting reminded Florentino Perez of the statement he made in 2009 and told him about a proposal he has with regards to a bigger European competition for the ‘bigger clubs’ in which each club could be earning circa €500m per year.
After that meeting, Florentino Perez scheduled a meeting with six other clubs; Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, AC Milan, and Arsenal, and where Stillitano’s proposal was discussed.
These six clubs in addition to Real Madrid were named ‘The Crack Team’.
As part of the issues discussed at the meeting, they wanted to get a legal interpretation before they finally break silence on their plans so they contacted the Director of Legal Affairs of Bayern Munich, Michael Gerlinger who later employed a bigger law firm, CG Law Group of about 1200 lawyers.
On 30th January 2016, Stillitano met reps from the big clubs in England in other to convince them further on their plans of forming a new European Super League.
The clubs wanted to be clear on a few issues which included whether the players could potentially terminate their contracts since they didn’t sign up for such a competition, whether the national teams would allow their players to play and whether they could be removed from the Premier League as a result of that.
All these concerns were forwarded to CG Law Group to analyze and provide answers to.
Few months later, CG Law Group contacted the ‘Crack Team’ to inform them of their findings. It was revealed that all concerns pose no threat except for the fact that players could terminate their contracts but the ‘crack team’ felt the antidote to that will only be to give money to such players as a way of convincing them to stay.
WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE?
The European Super League is a breakaway European competition set to include 20 of the biggest football clubs on the European continent. Fifteen of these clubs called the founding members being permanent members; meaning they cannot be relegated while another 5 will be able to qualify to play in the annual tournament.
The Super League poses a threat to current club competitions organized by UEFA. These are the Champions League which dates back to 1956, the Europa League and the newly-formed and yet to commence UEFA Europa Conference League.
The ESL teams would not participate in the UEFA competitions. President of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez was announced Chairman for the Super League while Andrea Agnelli of Juventus and Joel Glazer of Manchester United took the roles as Vice-Chairmen.
Twelve clubs had signed up for the Super League. The big six of the English Premier League; Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur; the big three of the Spanish La Liga; Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid and the big three of the Italian Serie A; Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
Bayern Munich and PSG were invited to join but all German and French clubs refused to be part of it.
FORMAT OF THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE
Twenty teams would be playing in the Super League. Fifteen of them being permanent members and cannot be relegated while five other teams would be invited to participate each season.
The 20 clubs would be split into two leagues of 10 teams each; say A and B. All clubs in league A will play each other home and away likewise league B.
There would be a minimum of 18 matches played by each team and all matches were slated to be played in midweek.
The league was slated to begin in August and the top 3 teams in each division gaining automatic qualification for the quarter-finals of two legs while the 4th and 5th placed teams battle it out in a play-off for the two remaining slots.
There will be a two-legged semi-final and a one-off final in May each year.
HOW MUCH WOULD PARTICIPATING TEAMS EARN?
JP Morgan, the financiers of the ESL announced that it would finance the Super League with an amount of €3.5 billion.
The league would attract a lot of lucrative commercial, television and sponsorship deals across the world. The Super League clubs and their owners could become incredibly rich while the 15 founding members will be guaranteed revenue every season.
Reports were that the winner of the Super League would earn an amount around €200m compared to the €82m of the UCL.
WHY THE SUPER LEAGUE?
The outbreak of the coronavirus has made it more difficult for Europe’s big clubs since their major source of income (gate proceeds) has been lost due to the clubs playing games behind closed doors.
With their players on big wages, clubs can only rely on income from TV rights and sponsorship deals to cater for player wages.
This has led to the fall in income of clubs and with just little money coming from the champions league, they felt the European Super League and the income attached to it will generate more income for the participating clubs.
WHY DID THE SUPER LEAGUE FAIL?
There were a lot reactions from football fans and stakeholders across the world after the news of the breakaway league broke out.
Football governing bodies like FIFA, UEFA, as well as football federations and organizers of domestic leagues expressed distaste for the Super League.
Former footballers and active ones added their voice to the campaign against the breakaway league. Notable are Gary Neville, Mesut Özil, Jordan Henderson and Jamie Carragher among others.
Manchester City were the first club to pull out of the Super League when they published an official statement on Tuesday, 20th April 2022 which read “Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League.”
Chelsea followed up after their fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge in mass protest before their game against Brighton and Hove Albion.
By the close of the day all six Premier League clubs had pulled out of the Super League. The exit of the PL big six clubs meant the feasibility of the Super League had ceased.
When asked if the competition was still viable, Andrea Agnelli said: “To be frank and honest, no…evidently, that is not the case.”
This admission from Andrea Agnelli meant that the plans for the European Super League had to be stopped only 48 hours after they were unveiled. Contrary to Agnelli’s comments, Florentino Perez still insists the super league is not dead and that it is just on stand-by and there will be reforms to it.
Story by: Benedict Kudzordzi | universnewsroom.com