This week, 12 of the largest revenue generating football clubs in Europe including powerhouses Manchester United, Liverpool and Real Madrid, announced they would be forming a breakaway mid-week competition, known as the ‘European Super League’ (‘Super League’).
In this lucrative football league, the clubs would each receive $400 million Euros just for signing up, in a revolutionary concept which has long been touted as the next step in the ever-increasing commercial and financially driven football world.
However, the concept has received strong backlash from rival clubs, leagues, governing bodies and fans who have criticised the lack of open competition and meritocracy, with concerns that the Super League threatens the integrity of existing football structures worldwide.
This blog post explores the responses of leagues and governing bodies to the announcement, and the legal options available to stop the Super League from occurring.
The Premier League
With six of its clubs signing up to the breakaway league, the Premier League has been quick to condemn the concept.
Under s L.9 of the Premier League rules, a club is not able to enter a competition other than the existing English competitions or the UEFA Champions League without prior written approval of the Premier League Board.
Given that the Board have publicly opposed the league and have contacted clubs directly telling them not to participate, it is difficult to see how permission will be granted to participate going forward. Therefore, English clubs entering the Super League would be at risk of expulsion from the Premier League itself.
With its own continental competition (UEFA champions league) under competitive threat, UEFA has stated that it ‘will consider all measures available … at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening’. Furthermore, UEFA has also noted that ‘the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level’ and that ‘their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams’. Being prevented from participating in their own domestic competitions is a credible threat for the breakaway clubs, and players will also be influenced by the risk that they can no longer play international football.
The game’s global governing body has stated that it will do ‘whatever is necessary to contribute to a harmonised way forward in the overall interests of football’.
In particular, FIFA has warned previously that players involved in the Super League would also be banned from playing at the FIFA World Cup, the sporting pinnacle of Football.
This is a particularly imminent threat for the players, given the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is fast approaching and with qualifiers in full swing, FIFA will seek to leverage this threat to further prevent the Super League from getting off the ground.
A detailed analysis of the proposed Super League, its ramifications for football, and the responses from UEFA and FIFA is explored by Tariq Panja of the New York Times here: