Super League SNUB: Premier League clubs reject new breakaway bid due to new laws and the vivid memory of fan outrage… despite Thursday’s court victory

Premier League clubs have distanced themselves from a new European Super League despite a landmark ruling on Thursday that such a venture should be allowed.

The European Court of Justice said UEFA had acted unlawfully in 2021 when they banned clubs from joining the new competition. A fresh plan was quickly announced by a group called A22, with Real Madrid and Barcelona happy to play ball. But new laws will stop any Premier League involvement.

Twelve teams, including England’s Big Six — signed up in 2021 to the ESL, which was meant to rival the Champions League. Yet amid widespread fan outrage and protest, all of the Premier League sides withdrew from the project within days.

Following yesterday’s ruling, plans for a three-division, 64-team competition — with promotion and relegation and no permanent member clubs — were announced by A22. Fans would be able to watch for free on a new digital streaming platform.

Manchester United immediately rejected the proposals, as did Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid. Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham reiterated their loyalty to Uefa competitions later in the day.

Premier League clubs are set to snub the new Super League format despite a landmark ruling 

Top flight sides are way of joining the Super League in any event after fan outrage in 2021

Top flight sides are way of joining the Super League in any event after fan outrage in 2021

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‘The judgement issued today by the European Court of Justice does not change Chelsea FC’s position,’ the club said. ‘We firmly believe that, by working with the Premier League, The FA, other European clubs through our strong relationship with UEFA and FIFA, we can, together, continue to develop the European game for the benefit of everyone.’

And the UK government were quick to point out that, as part of the creation of a new independent regulator, forthcoming legislation ‘will stop clubs from joining any similar breakaway competitions in future’.

The new Football Governance Bill, along with the extreme reaction from supporters two years ago, are expected to be strong enough deterrents in the short term.

In the aftermath of the collapse a Premier League Owner’s Charter was introduced which clubs agreed ‘not to engage in the creation of new competition formats outside of the Premier League’s rules’.

Following the ECJ’s ruling, the Football Supporters Association said: ‘There is no place for an ill-conceived breakaway super league. Supporters, players and clubs have already made clear they don’t want a stitched-up competition – we all want to see the trigger pulled on the walking dead monstrosity that is the European Zombie League. 

A source claimed it would be 'no surprise' to see Saudi involvement in the breakaway

A source claimed it would be ‘no surprise’ to see Saudi involvement in the breakaway 

The ruling comes as a huge blow to FIFA and UEFA - run by Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin respectively

The ruling comes as a huge blow to FIFA and UEFA – run by Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin respectively 

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SUPER LEAGUE Q&A 

WHAT DOES THIS RULING MEAN?

It means that UEFA acted ‘unlawfully’ when they banned those involved from attempting to form a breakaway league in 2021. It does not, however, mean that the Super League would have been permitted. 

UEFA have been told to amend its rules on the pre-authorisation of new competitions and bring them into line with European Union law, effectively making them more transparent. 

They say that they have already done this, in 2022, and claim they now ‘comply with all relevant European laws and regulations’.

WHAT ARE THE REBELS PROPOSING?

Quickly after the verdict A22, the Madrid-based vehicle that was behind the original plan, announced proposals for a 64-team, three-division men’s competition and a 32-team competition for women that would be streamed free. 

Chief executive Bernd Reichert, however, failed to mention how the tournament would be funded or say who would be joining Real Madrid and Barcelona. 

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin joked: ‘It’s close to Christmas, they saw a box under the tree and started to celebrate, but then when they opened the box they realised there was not much inside.’

WILL ENGLISH CLUBS SIGN UP?

No. Two things to note here. One – the ferocious backlash from fans the first time around lingers in the memory and two – there will soon be a law in place to stop them from doing so. There appears to be little appetite. 

To their credit, Manchester United were the first to go public to say they would not be taking part, and were later followed by others from the ‘Big Six’.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER COUNTRIES?

German clubs were not involved the first time around and will not be again. Paris Saint-Germain were one of the first to say no and are closely aligned with the UEFA-backing European Club Association (ECA). According to La Liga president Javier Tebas, only Barcelona and Real Madrid, from Spain, are onboard. 

‘So it’s going to be those two and clubs from the likes of Belgium and Holland,’ one source said. ‘Good luck selling that.’

In Scotland, Celtic chairman Peter Lawwell is an ECA vice-chairman, although Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack hinted on social media that both and Rangers would be two of the 64.

IS THIS THE END OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE?

No.

‘While the corpse might continue to twitch in the European courts, no English side will be joining. Success must be earned on the pitch, not stitched-up in boardrooms.’

One industry insider, however, believes that there may be interest from Saudi in the breakaway tournament, which they feel could be ‘a game changer’. 

The source, who has worked closely with rebel golf tournament LIV, explained: ‘This could be LIV mark two. Barcelona and Real Madrid will be very attractive to Saudi and a new competition fits nicely into their strategy as they seek to expand their footprint in sports. 

‘It would be no surprise to see Saudi involvement and – when clubs who are not in the competition start to lose players and see the money that’s there – it could be a game changer.’

The ECJ ruling found that FIFA and UEFA rules were not ‘transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate’. However, the ECJ did state that the verdict ‘does not mean that a competition such as the Super League project must necessarily be approved’. Indeed, UEFA officials feel they have made the necessary amendments to their rules following the breakaway attempt.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the development ‘does not change anything’. ‘Historically, we have been organising the best competitions in the world and this will also be the case in the future,’ he added.

His UEFA counterpart, Aleksander Ceferin, added that ‘football is not for sale’. ‘I hope they know what they are doing but I am not so sure,’ Ceferin said.

‘We will not try to stop them. They can create whatever they want. I hope they start their top competition as soon as possible… with two clubs. Football is not for sale.’

The Premier League and others around Europe were quick to condemn the project. ‘The ruling does not endorse the so-called ‘European Super League’ and the Premier League continues to reject any such concept,’ a statement read. 

‘Supporters are of vital importance to the game and they have time and again made clear their opposition to a ‘breakaway’ competition that severs the link between domestic and European football.’

The FA added: ‘UEFA’s rules and the relevant rules in place in England have been strengthened since the proposal of the ESL in 2021, with the FA rules regarding the supervision of competitions and matches updated in October 2021.’

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville was more succinct, posting on social media ‘No thanks,’ in response to the proposed format.

The initial project failed to gain the backing of clubs in Germany, while private equity investment in the French league, where Paris Saint Germain voiced their opposition, is understood to contain clauses preventing clubs joining rival competitions.

While Real Madrid and Barcelona trumpeted the court ruling Atletico Madrid came out in support of those against the breakaway. ‘The European football family does not want the European Super League. Germany, France, England, Italy, Spain (with the exception of Real Madrid and Barcelona), etc. do not want the Super League,’ their statement read.

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