European Super League: Is Soccer’s Breakaway League Dead in the Water?

  • The proposed Super League would guarantee 15 founder clubs a place in a 20-team competition every season
  • UEFA issued a joint statement with the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A saying they were united in their efforts to stop the project
  • Nine of 12 teams have already pulled out, but Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said on Saturday that they have “binding contracts” and “cannot leave”

Just over a week ago, 12 of the biggest soccer clubs in Europe announced their intention to breakaway from the current UEFA competition format and form their very own Super League.

However, outrage from fans, government, the sport’s governing bodies and, well, everybody, caused the project to unravel in less than 48 hours. Let’s review all that’s happened in the past seven days and what it could mean for the sport moving forward. Here’s also where you can find tips and strategies for betting on soccer.

What is the European Super League?

On Sunday, April 18, the following founding (and greedy) members of the Super League attempted to shake up European soccer: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool FC, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham from the English Premier League; Spanish giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, as well as Atlético Madrid; and three of the most successful and financially-powerful teams in Italy — Juventus, A.C. Milan and Inter Milan.

This “Dirty Dozen” hoped to add three more permanent member clubs – and the plan was to have these 15 founding clubs compete in a 20-team competition every season with five other teams who would go through some sort of qualifying system.

There were more than a few problems with this plan. Namely, some of the teams aren’t all that super. Tottenham Hotspur has won just one League Cup in the past 30 years; Arsenal hasn’t qualified for the Champions League since 2016 and AC Milan since 2013; and Inter Milan hasn’t progressed from the group stages since 2011.

Secondly, no German or French teams had signed up, including Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, last year’s two Champions League finalists. And, finally, everyone seemed to hate the idea that the Super League’s founding members could not be relegated or forced to qualify – unlike in the Champions League.

Soccer’s governing bodies retaliate

European football governing body, UEFA, has staged the Champions League every year since 1955, so you could understand why they weren’t too happy about a group of billionaire’s forming their own European competition that would run in direct competition against their marquee club tournament.

UEFA immediately threatened to ban the Super League clubs from playing in their domestic leagues, and bar players on Super League teams from playing for their respective national teams. FIFA President Gianni Infantino also warned the breakaway clubs that they must “live with the consequences.”

The sport’s fans also didn’t take too kindly to the announcement – supporters of Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal all descended on their respective stadiums in protest, and before long, all six Premier League teams had released statements saying they would no longer be part of the new project.

The latest developments

Within 48 hours, nine of the 12 teams had withdrawn from the proposed tournament and the Super League was looking dead in the water. However, on Saturday, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said the 12 clubs that agreed to join the league have “binding contracts” and “cannot leave”.

The Real president added it was “not true” American investment bank JP Morgan, who had provided a 3.5bn euro grant to the founding members, had abandoned the ESL and that the project, or one very similar, “will move forward and I hope very soon.”

 

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Steve Dominey

Steve has almost 15 years of experience in marketing, PR and sports television. After acquiring a Journalism degree from Carleton University, he assembled highlight packs for Canada's most-watched sports network (TSN) before transitioning to a career in communications. He describes himself as a good father, great dog owner, and mediocre gambler and husband.