The landscape of European football has irreversibly changed over the last 24 hours as 12 of Europe’s top clubs have announced that they are breaking away to form a new European Super League. Rumours of such a competition have been prevalent for years but the impact of Covid-19 has exasperated clubs and reshaped timelines. Football as we know it will never be the same again and the implications of the events of the last 24 hours will shape the future of the sport. Nevertheless, here is everything you need to know about the breakaway European Super League and what it means for football.
Leading European football clubs announce new Super League competition.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 18, 2021
What is happening?
A statement was announced on Sunday night that “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its Founding Clubs.”
The 12 founding clubs along with 3 other members will be forming their own competition to rival the UEFA Champions League.
Who are the clubs involved?
12 of the top clubs from Europe including six from England (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham), three from Spain (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid) and three from Italy (Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan).
It is anticipated that three more clubs will also join ahead of the first season.
Who are the major clubs not involved?
None of the top clubs from Germany or France are involved and reports suggest that Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and PSG have rejected proposals to join the Super League and consider such a breakaway disrespectful to the current competition.
What exactly is the Super League?
A statement has been made that the new competition would include 20 clubs, with 15 permanent members and 5 qualifying on an annual basis. The competition would be played in midweek and replace the existing Champions League but participating clubs would still play in their respective national leagues.
The clubs would be split into two groups of 10, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals and the fourth and fifth competing for the final spot through a two-legged play-off. A two-leg knockout format will also be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.
The competition would start as soon as possible.
What is the financial situation?
These events have unfolded due to only one motivator, money. Despite controlling majority of the wealth in the sport, the top clubs in the world who have agreed to join this competition have been badly affected by Covid-19. As you can see from the graph below (credits to @SwissRamble), all of the 12 clubs lost £1.2 billion in 2019/20 and are expected to suffer more in this year’s accounts.
Here’s a clue as to why 12 clubs have signed up for a European Super League:
They lost a combined £1.2 billion in 2019/20 before player sales*
And that was for a season where only the last 3 months were impacted by COVID…
*Liverpool have not yet published their accounts pic.twitter.com/7o1ubiDX6z
— Swiss Ramble (@SwissRamble) April 18, 2021
This new league has been backed by the American Bank JP Morgan who have committed approximately £3.5 billion to this new competition.
By signing on the dotted line for the Super League, each of the 12 clubs are guaranteed an initial payment of £350 million solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic.
What has been said?
Florentino Pérez, President Real Madrid CF and the first Chairman of the Super League said “We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires.”
Who has opposed the idea?
The footballing public has made its voice heard over its distaste of the idea. The Premier League, UEFA, FIFA and various other footballing bodies have all released statements opposing the breakaway league.
Gary Neville gave a damning verdict on Sky Sports about his thoughts on the situation claiming all 6 PL clubs involved are a disgrace. More crucially, Boris Johnson – the prime minister of England – and Emmanuel Macron – the French President have each released a statement deploring the idea and stating that clubs involved would have to answer to its fans.
Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.
They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country. (1/2)
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 18, 2021
What are the implications for the footballing world?
This power grab would forever change the landscape of football with the leading clubs in the world claiming all the power and control. Crucially the 15 founding members of the league will be permanent members of this Super League and will not be relegated from the league despite their performance.
What is the major issue?
The bone of contention with this issue is that it removes competition. The European Super League will not be about football but the generation of content instead. The Americanisation of the league ensures the 15 founding members will be involved come what may because they decree that they have the right to do so. There are no more fairy tales like Atalanta or Leicester and the competition at its heart is baseless with the entire jeopardy and risk that makes sport what it is ripped out.
It is unclear over what the next steps are given that we have been here before many times over the years and the Big Clubs have eventually settled for better terms and more control from UEFA or their respective leagues. However, this project might feel a bit different given the amount of planning and clubs involved.
According to reports, the Super League has already written to the presidents of UEFA and FIFA warning them that they have already taken legal action preventing the authorities from blocking the breakaway but with the aforementioned clubs needing permission to join the breakaway leagues, this matter will surely go to the courts.
[Header Image Credit: Sky Sports]