Despite its previous attempt failing, a European Super League ‘will be a reality’ in the next two years, claims Barcelona president Joan Laporta.
The original plans for a bold breakaway Super League were foiled within 48 hours last year following a furious backlash from fans in England, with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Man United soon performing a u-turn as owners later coughed up apologies for getting involved in the first place.
Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona have continued to push for a breakaway competition and Laporta has now claimed it will ‘be a reality’ in two years and can compete with the Premier League.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta remains optimistic about a Super League being formed
The controversial plans were initially announced in April 2021 but fell apart within 48 hours
‘I think there will be a Super League,’ he told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser. ‘In March we will have the ruling of the EU Court of Justice.
‘I would not have entered into this project if it was not an open competition and it was accepted by Real Madrid, Juventus and other clubs that have not yet shown their faces but are very interested in this competition.
‘What we want is for the clubs to govern. That is why the Luxembourg Court ruling is so important. I hope that UEFA will be part of the governance table.’
Last month the Super League Company launched legal action against UEFA, claiming it had breached EU law, but the European Court of Justice backed UEFA’s position.
The Super League was dealt a huge blow last month as a court backed UEFA over the league
A senior legal adviser to the European Court of Justice ruled that UEFA hadn’t breached EU law
Advocate General Athanasios Rantos said that while Super League organisers were entitled to set up an independent competition ‘outside the UEFA and FIFA ecosystem, it cannot however, in parallel with the creation of such a competition, continue to participate in the football competitions organised by FIFA and UEFA without the prior authorisation of those federations.’
Advocates general routinely provide legal guidance to the ECJ. Their opinions aren’t binding on the Luxembourg-based court but are followed in most cases.
A final ruling, which is not expected until March, could bring the hammer down on Laporta and other executives’ aspirations but he remains convinced that a breakaway competition can be pushed through.
‘It will be a reality in 2025, if the resolution is favourable,’ he continued.
‘If the ruling, which I believe will not happen because what is being called into question is the defence of free competition in the framework of the EU, and I believe that this will be won.
‘In a first step, what we will have is a European competition that will compete with the Premiership.
‘I don’t think the English teams are going to enter in the first step.’
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have so far refused to give up hope a breakaway can work
Bernd Reichert, CEO of A22 Sports, the new company that is working to deliver a Super League, insisted last month that the Super League ‘is not dead’ and it is ‘very much alive’.
Following the publication of the legal judgement last month, UEFA said in a statement: ‘UEFA welcomes today’s unequivocal Opinion of Advocate General Rantos, which is an encouraging step towards preserving the existing dynamic and democratic governance structure of the European football pyramid.
‘The Opinion reinforces the central role of federations in protecting the sport, upholding fundamental principles of sporting merit and open access across our members, as well as uniting football with shared responsibility and solidarity.
‘Football in Europe remains united and steadfastly opposed to the ESL, or any such breakaway proposals, which would threaten the entire European sports ecosystem.
‘While we await the Court’s final judgement due next year, UEFA, as a public interest, not-for-profit governing body, will continue to be fully focused on its mission to develop football for all, in close cooperation with national associations, leagues, clubs, players, fans, EU institutions, governments and other relevant stakeholders who have the true values of football at heart.’
Fans revolted after the plans were revealed which included no relegation for the 12 members
Meanwhile, FIFA added in a statement of their own: ‘FIFA welcomes the Opinion issued today by Advocate General Rantos of the European Court of Justice in which he confirms the standing and legitimacy of FIFA and UEFA to approve any new football competitions. By the same token, the Advocate General considers that sanctions may be imposed in respect of competitions which do not satisfy the approved authorisation criteria.
‘FIFA also welcomes the Advocate General’s recognition of FIFA’s exclusive rights to market international competitions organised by FIFA.
‘Finally, FIFA welcomes the recognition by the Advocate General of the special nature of sport, including the pyramid structure, which preserves the nature of sporting merit and open competitions accessible to all, as well as the principles of promotion and relegation, competitive balance, and financial solidarity.’