soccer

UEFA lead backlash against Super League; UK government vows to step in

17 Comments
By Simon Evans

European soccer's governing body UEFA led a backlash against plans for a breakaway Super League on Monday, saying associated players and clubs could be banned from its competitions - including three of this season's Champions League semifinalists.

Addressing an emergency meeting the day after 12 of Europe's top clubs announced the new league, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin described the Super League plan as a "spit in the face" of all soccer lovers.

"As soon as possible they (the clubs) and the players have to be banned from all our competitions," he added.

Three of the 12 clubs in the new league - Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea - could be withdrawn from this season's Champions League semifinals, UEFA executive committee member Jesper Moller told Danish broadcaster DR.

"The clubs must go, I expect that to happen on Friday. Then we have to find out how to finish (this season's) Champions League tournament," said Moller, who heads the Danish FA.

The renegade clubs - six from the English Premier League plus three each from Spain and Italy - will be guaranteed places in the new competition in contrast to the Champions League, which requires teams to qualify via their domestic leagues.

U.S. investment bank JP Morgan is financing the new league, providing a 3.5 billion euro ($4.2 billion) grant to the founding clubs to spend on infrastructure and recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier League clubs will meet to discuss the crisis on Tuesday but without the six breakaway clubs present as the remaining 14 clubs focus on their response.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has voiced his objections to the plan while his sports minister Oliver Dowden said everything possible will be done to block the league and is examining options to penalize the six Premier League teams to sign up.

Dowden said the government would seek to block the project if football authorities could not.

"If they can't act, we will," he told parliament. "We will put everything on the table to prevent this from happening."

Prince William, who is also President of the Football Association, said the Super League risked "damaging the game we love."

UEFA chief Ceferin said the Super League went against the core of the European football pyramid in which all clubs can dream of playing in the Champions League.

"We stand united against the disgraceful and self-serving proposal for a select few clubs in Europe motivated by greed. We are all united against this nonsense of a project," he added.

"As previously announced by (soccer's world governing body) FIFA and the six (continental) federations, the players... in teams that might play in the closed league will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros.

"We're still assessing with our legal team but we will take all the sanctions that we can."

FIFA had warned in January that any breakaway league would not be recognized by them and that players taking part could be banned from the World Cup.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is due to speak to UEFA delegates about the breakaway issue at its annual congress in Montreux, Switzerland on Tuesday.

Bans or other sanctions could open the way for complicated legal battles. The Super League letter urged FIFA and UEFA to agree to talks and said they wanted the breakaway league to exist alongside current European club competitions.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

The UEFA meeting was originally scheduled to confirm plans to expand the Champions League from 32 to 36 teams and create more group stage games before the knockout rounds, a move designed to appease the top clubs.

Ceferin said the new format would start from the 2024/25 season but it has been overshadowed by the Super League announcement. He also stressed that UEFA distributes close to 90% of its revenues back to all levels of the game.

"Super League is only about money, money of the dozen, I don't want to call them dirty dozen, but UEFA is about developing football."

While guaranteed spots in the Super League go against long-standing tradition in European football, the founding clubs argue it will create a more sustainable financial model.

"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," the clubs said.

In the past, breakaway threats have led to compromises between UEFA and the big clubs in the Champions League, over the format and revenue distribution.

This time, however, the language being used suggests a bitter battle ahead.

FOUNDING MEMBERS

As well as Manchester United, owned by the American Glazer family, U.S-owned Premier League clubs Liverpool and Arsenal, Abu-Dhabi backed Manchester City, Russian-owned Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur, who sacked their manager Jose Mourinho on Monday, have signed up to the plans.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid join Real Madrid from Spain, while AC Milan and Inter Milan make up a trio from Italy along with Juventus.

Qatari-owned Paris St-Germain and European champions Bayern Munich, which is majority-owned by its fans, have not signed up, meaning France and Germany are not represented.

The Super League said they aimed to have 15 founding members and a 20-team league with five other clubs qualifying each season and would start playing as "soon as is practicable".

While shares in Juventus JUVE.MI surged nearly 18% on Monday and Manchester United shares ended the day 6.8% higher, fans of the clubs involved have united in condemnation, as have major European domestic leagues, football federations and broadcasters. French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have also voiced concerns.

British broadcaster BT Sport, which pays hundreds of millions of pounds a year to show the Champions League, said the game needed to be protected.

"BT believes the formation of a European Super League could have a damaging effect to the long term health of football in this country," it said.

Liverpool's Premier League fixture at Leeds United on Monday saw fans protesting outside while Leeds players wore warm-up tee-shirts with the slogan "Earn It" under the logo of the Champions League.

The match ended 1-1, ironically damaging Liverpool's hopes of qualifying for the competition they won for a sixth time in 2019 but which their owners seem intent on damaging.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments
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Gary Nevill has said everything that has to be said about this. It's a disgrace and a disgusting joke.

https://twitter.com/utdreport/status/1383831410490810384

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Never say never,it's said,but I'm saying it's not gonna happen.The fans are going to bring the collective heat,along with player unrest and put a fork in this move.With the English teams anyway.Banned from playing for the national team is a good threat too.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Denying the players the opportunity to play for their countries & play in the World Cup is a good start.

I’d also Threaten the teams with the docking of points.

West Ham may even become champions

3 ( +4 / -1 )

West Ham may even become champions

I think they'll be playing football on the moon before that happens. David Moyes would be my choice for manager of the season though.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It’s a new way of doing things.

Give it a go I say. It seems to work well in basketball (NBA).

Gary Neville doesn’t speak for everyone.

Sport is a big, big business.

Shame on FIFA, UEFA and all their corruption.

It’s time to share the TV rights.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The lawyers will cash in on this debacle,

A charter for attorneys, queuing round the block, from London to Glasgow.

O jogo bonito, the beautifully game,

How quickly nature falls into revolt

When gold becomes her object.

*
-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Players and managers speaking out against it including the Liverpool manager/players. Only the owners want it.

Maybe also overseas fans who don't go to a game, like in Singapore.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Denying the players the opportunity to play for their countries & play in the World Cup is a good start.

Why? They aren't the ones who have made this move, they are simply contracted to the clubs as you may be to your company.

This is just an agrressive opening negiotiating stance by the dozen. For years UEFA and FIFA have been pulling down the pants of clubs and national associations, the clubs simply want more of the money that they earn on behalf of those two proven corrupt organizations. If anything good comes from this I hope it is that FIFA and UEFA get their backsides slapped back to where they should be.

I'm not saying I hope the Super League happens, I really don't. I love getting hammered by Villa / Burnley etc. But it will happen in some format.

Players and managers speaking out against it including the Liverpool manager/players. Only the owners want it.

Five years down the line everyone may be fighting to get into it, just like they were with the Premier League in 1992.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

It’s time to share the TV rights.

you do realise that only these 12 teams will receive billions of dollars from the broadcasting rights - & these greedy sods won’t want to share the spoils with anyone

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why? They aren't the ones who have made this move, they are simply contracted to the clubs as you may be to your company.

but they do have the choice of playing for their country or taking the money.

Five years down the line everyone may be fighting to get into it, 

except not everyone is invited

Maybe we should start a new campaign - Poor Teams Matter !

3 ( +3 / -0 )

but they do have the choice of playing for their country or taking the money.

Why should they be put in the position of having to quit their jobs in order to play for their national teams, which have nothing to do with this? They are not the ones who have decided on this course of action, it's their bosses.

Cool heads are needed at this point, not ostracizing and scapegoating the people who have had no say in the matter.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The season should be completed as planned, includng the European tournaments, as it offers the option of continuity should the ESL plan be ditched.

If it isn't, players on the books of ESL clubs can be banned from all other professional football in Europe. That includes the dozens of players currently on loan with other clubs, considered as investments by their owners. They play in the ESL, they can finish their careers in Saudi Arabia or China when their wealthy masters tire of them.

Any club joining the ESL as a guest, would not be able to fall back into the existing leagues. If the ESL showed them the door, they would have to fold as a football club, as they would no longer have a league to play in.

This will impact on players too. Some enjoy their popularity, and a few, like Rashford, merit it with the work they do off the pitch as much as on it. This will change. ESL players are not going to be popular any more. They won't be representing their countries either. Maybe they need to vote with their feet and put in transfer requests en bloc. If the managers go too, that will just leave the chairmen with big empty stadiums.

And let's not forget Goldman Sachs, who are bankrolling this. I'm sure they have a lot of contracts with European governments. Those contracts can be ended and alternatives can be found.

The ESL may have got away with this snouts-in-the-trough gambit before Covid, but they are now failing to read the air.

Incidentally, the same game is being played by tech companies streaming movies, TV and music. They are stealing your culture and exclusivising it for a restricted audience, for cash.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson has called an emergency meeting with the other Premier League captains to discuss a response to the proposed European ‘Super League’.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Greedy bastards. Pissing on football’s cultural heritage and ignoring the fans. Should chuck all of them out if their respective leagues.

Chelsea and Manchester City have withdrawn for this appalling group. Now Barcelona and Athletico Madrid.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Even if the project fails, the Liverpool fans will not be so forgiving against the owners.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

great, we are out.

as much as I hate Uefa, this was a disaster.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"Liverpool will NOT take part in a breakaway European Super League after Fenway Sports Group bowed to supporter pressure."

The project is finished before it started.

The owners, FSG have badly damaged their relationship with the fans.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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