The Dead On Arrival European Super League

12 clubs, including Milan, plan(ed) a breakaway European super league

To much dismay Milan is among 12 initial clubs forming the European Super League. The plans call for 15 permanent members and 5 invitees to compete in two groups of 10 teams with top 4 each going to a quarter final. The matches will be played midweek thereby effectively downgrading the UEFA Champions League.

Initial signatories: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Inter Milan, Juventus, Milan, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid

The financial side of the deal has been allegedly brokered by JP Morgan

The 15 founder clubs sharing an initial 3.5billion (£3.1billion) euro “infrastructure grant” ranging from £310million to £89million per club which can be spent on stadiums, training facilities or “to replace lost stadium-related revenues due to Covid-19”

Income from TV and sponsorship would favour the founding clubs: 32.5% of the pot would be shared equally between the 15 clubs, and another 32.5% between all Super League clubs including the five qualifiers

20% of the pot would be merit money “distributed in the same manner as the current English Premier League merit-based system” according to where clubs finish in the competition or group if they don’t make the knock-out stage

The remaining 15% would get a “commercial share based on club awareness”

A cap of 55% of revenues permitted to be spent on salaries and transfers (net)

The controversial nature of this is of course permanent membership of some hand picked big clubs and the breakaway nature of it. As has been noted by many, taking away the incentive to win would be a by product of a league with no relegation for its permanent members. This would go against the spirit of football competition and devalue what has been a hallmark of football as the beautiful game where any team can dream to win any trophy available.

The 12 clubs accuse UEFA of not maximizing revenue and the ESL clubs claim that they have a deal in place that will provide them with millions even billions of Euros and include money for infrastructure, annual moneys and solidarity payments to non participating teams.

UEFA’s (and FIFA’s) response to any kind of break away has been that the teams and players participating in such practices will be excluded from FIFA, UEFA and even domestic competitions. Whether the governing bodies have the legal right to exclude players is somewhat questionable but domestic federations and associations are almost certainly able to kick out teams from competitions.

Interestingly Bayern Munich and PSG have rejected the invite and remain on the outside claiming they are working with UEFA on Champions League expansion and rework coming in 2024. One may remember that Bayern were one of the earlier participants of the now defunct G-14 group which sought to get more from European competition, UEFA and FIFA. One of its main achievements was that club teams would get compensation for use of their players by national teams. Furthermore, it was indeed Milan’s Berlusconi who had some of the earliest proposals and mentions of maximizing income and reworking how football generates revenue within a European competition. The G-14 eventually morphed into the European Club Association (ECA) with more demands but the relationship with UEFA was not always completely at odds and work was being done to get more concessions and power within the current system. Bayern’s Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said as much after this European Super League was announced a mere 48 hours ago.

The reaction and backlash from fans, players and even managers like Pep Guardiola immediately reached explosive levels and while Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez went on TV to claim the agreement between the signees is binding the deal risked falling through under immense pressure from others that include some excluded teams, domestic associations and even the Boris Johnson government in the UK.

On merely it’s second full day of existence casualties appeared as Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward announced his resignation – under the guise that he planned to leave late in 2021 any way. All English teams withdrew – with rumoured UEFA payments as an incentive. While the English teams succumbed to all around accusations of greed the others seemed to be falling on way side as well. Inter Milan and reportedly Milan followed but it seemed the Spanish teams would hesitate. Juventus’ Andrea Agnelli and Real’s Perez seems the most invested in this league and may continue to push for it, if they survive the deluge of criticism. There are spinning this collapse by claiming the idea might return after a ‘reshape’.

So for now the teams look to return to regular programming without the immediate shadow of controversy. Milan will not face threats of expulsion from the Serie A and the other villains will fight for their titles as well.

Neither FIFA nor UEFA are able to lay claim to being clean organizations and as the super league may not be dead and buried troubles and problems lay ahead. UEFA has at least won this round of the public relations exercise and may be able to push their Champions League expansion and plans more forcefully but the rich are sure to return with more demands.