European Super League: New proposal would be open competition, say organisers

  • By Mandeep Sanghera
  • BBC Sport

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Plans for a European Super League sparked protests outside Premier League stadiums

A European Super League in a new guise would be a competition without permanent members and based on sporting performance, says A22 Managing Director Bernd Reichart.

A22 Sports Management is a company promoting a redesigned European league.

“The foundations of European football are in danger of collapsing,” Reichart told German newspaper Die Welt.

“It is time for a change. It is the clubs that bear the entrepreneurial risk in football.

“But when it comes to important decisions, they often have to stand by and watch the sporting and financial foundations crumble around them.”

The original plans for ESL in 2021 called for 20 teams – 12 founding members and three unnamed clubs they later hoped to join, plus five clubs that would have qualified annually based on their national performances.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham withdrew from the project within 48 hours after widespread condemnation.

However, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus continue to push for an ESL.

According to Reichart, the new ESL would feature 60 to 80 teams, each guaranteed at least 14 games per season and continuing to play in their domestic leagues. A22 did not provide any further information on the format.

In a report published by the European Court of Justice, its Advocate General said the rules of European and world football federations were “compatible with EU competition law”.

A final decision will be made by a 15-strong grand chamber in the spring.

Super League is the wolf – Tebas

Despite the ruling, A22 have engaged in “an extensive dialogue with stakeholders across Europe on the future of club football”.

She also developed 10 principles, including broad-based and merit-based competition, and women’s football development and funding, which would form the basis of the new ESL.

“Our talks also made it clear that it is often not possible for clubs to publicly speak out against a system that slows down resistance by threatening sanctions,” Reichart continued.

“Our dialogue was open, honest, constructive and resulted in clear ideas about what changes are needed and how they could be implemented.

“There is a lot to do and we will continue our dialogue.”

La Liga President Javier Tebas has criticized the ESL and condemned the new proposals.

“The Super League is the wolf dressed up as granny today to try to fool European football.” he wrote on social media.

“But his nose and his teeth are very big, four divisions in Europe? Of course, the first for them, like in the 2019 reform. Governed by the clubs? Of course, only the big ones.”

In a statement, La Liga called the plans a “direct threat” to domestic leagues across the continent, citing a report by corporate group KPMG.

“Where is the promised revenue supposed to come from if not from the national leagues? The bottom line is that the Super League is a disaster for the national leagues. It will drown small and medium-sized clubs across Europe and kill European football as we know.”

Football Supporters’ Association chief executive Kevin Miles also criticized the new ESL proposals, saying the idea of ​​an open competition was already underway in the Champions League.

“The walking corpse of the European Super League is twitching again with all that zombie confidence,” said Miles.

“They say ‘dialogue with fans and independent fan groups is essential’, yet the European Zombie League marches on – deliberately ignorant of the disdain that supporters across the continent have for it.”

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Protest banners against the European Super League were hung outside Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium in 2021

The European Club Association (ECA), which is chaired by Paris St-Germain President Nasser Al-Khelaifi, accused A22 of living in an “alternative reality”.

It added that “in the real world, as early as 2019, this processed idea was proposed, debated and broadly rejected by all stakeholders.”

The ECA reiterated its “long-standing opposition” to the ESL and any breakaway project, while highlighting the progress made “working with all football stakeholders… for the benefit of the whole European football ecosystem”.

The new format provides for a league table with all teams in the initial phase.

Each will play eight group games against different opponents, with four home games and four away games.

Uefa said “similar format changes will also be applied to the Europa League (eight league stage games) and Europa Conference League (six league stage games) and both will also feature 36 teams in the league stage.”

The ECA added: “Each season from 2024 onwards, more clubs from more countries will take part in European men’s club competitions, increasing passion for European football and significantly increasing the level of shared revenues.

“Significant advances can be seen in other aspects of football, from women’s football, youth and academy development, finance and regulation to sustainability and social impact.

“This is what real change looks like. We have moved on, when is A22 coming?”


BBC Sport football reporter Simon Stone

A22 continues to push the Super League agenda and the idea of ​​more clubs flowing and nobody being shielded is a far cry from the original plan of a single league with 20 teams, 15 of which would be permanent members.

The clear problem is that the original idea was received so poorly that it’s hard to imagine going back.

The European Clubs’ Association (ECA) is more closely linked to Uefa than ever before. Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin and ECA Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi share a vision for the future. This will be difficult to overcome.

The judgment of the European Court of Justice on the status of Uefa, which is due in the spring, will shape the narrative of this story. The Advocate General’s opinion, released in December, that Uefa should allow competing competitions but then be entitled to block access to its own, didn’t sound good for the concept of the Super League as domestic leagues are in Uefa’s corner.

A22 see more leeway in the decision of the ECJ.

Meanwhile, their three remaining clubs – Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona – will continue to look enviously at the continued growth of the Premier League, which many believe is now a Super League in all but name.

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