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?
What has happened?
Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have announced they have agreed to establish a new midweek 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.
Which clubs are involved in the European Super League?
The Premier League’s big-six clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham – are all involved.
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, according to the clubs, ‘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 clubs say that ‘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.’
What would the format be of the European Super League?
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.”
In their statement, the clubs themselves have outlined the format in three stages:
- 20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
- Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.
- An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter finals. Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.
Would the league be a ‘closed shop’?
One of the immediate points of criticism – if not the major point of criticism – around the proposal is that only five of the clubs in the 20-strong competition would enter based on ‘sporting achievement’. As outlined above, the other 15 clubs, the so-called ‘Founding Clubs’, would have their participation guaranteed.
How would the European Super League be financed?
About $5billion has been committed to this new project by the American bank JP Morgan.
In their own announcement, the breakaways clubs state ‘The Founding Clubs will receive an amount of €3.5 billion solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic.’
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