In a joint statement late last night, the twelve founders of a so-called ‘European Super League’ announced the formation of their own, exclusive midweek competition. This announcement has already led to outcries across the footballing world, as money and greed, at expense of the rest of the global footballing pyramid, has seemingly asserted its dominance once and for all.
The twelve clubs involved in the formation of the ‘Super League’ include the ‘Big Six’ in England, namely Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, who have been joined by Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, and Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan in Italy. Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich were asked to join, but reportedly turned it down, while Paris Saint-Germain are ‘unsure’.
The reasons behind the formation of the league are at least superficially outlined in the statement:
“The global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model” and has therefore “shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid.”
The Super League apparently aims to solve “fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher-quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid”.
These ‘financial resources’ will take the shape of “uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues,” although €3.5 billion has already been set aside for the founding clubs alone, solely “in exchange for their commitment” and to “support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic”.
The statement also outlines the format for the Super League, which will commence “as soon as practicable”.
20 teams will participate “with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season”. These founding clubs cannot be relegated from the competition.
The 20 teams will be split into two groups of 10, with the top three teams from each group qualifying automatically for a quarter-final, and teams in fourth and fifth competing in a play-off for the last quarter-final spots.
As the league will be a midweek competition, the clubs will continue to compete in their domestic competitions.
However, as the league is a distinct rejection of UEFA and its competitions, this has created a perhaps unprecedented stand-off at the top of footballing administration.
UEFA and the domestic leagues across Europe have made their stance on the Super League clear, releasing a statement yesterday (19 April) stating that “the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams”.
This story is most certainly still unfolding, and more will no doubt be revealed in the upcoming days. However what is for certain is that the backlash against the competition and the clubs involved has been immense. Although many news outlets, including this one, aim to report the news objectively and unbiasedly, there can be no doubt that this is football’s darkest hour, when greed and money overcame all.