European Super League revived as plotters unveil new plan to radically change football

A Tottenham Hotspur fan protests against the European Super League in 2021.
A Tottenham Hotspur fan protests against the European Super League in 2021.
Jonathan Brady
Carl Bennett

By Carl Bennett

Published: 09/02/2023

- 12:14

The original project was cancelled in 2021 following huge supporter backlash

The universally slammed European Super League may be revived with a number of leading football clubs in Europe remain interested in the project.

The original backers have revealed they want to launch a new version of the league that was infamously rejected by football fans two years ago, which could contain 80 teams in a multi-divisional format.

There would be no permanent members in the revamped model and the competition would be based on sporting performance only.

A22, a company formed to sponsor and assist with the creation of the Super League, has consulted with nearly 50 European clubs since October last year and developed 10 principles based on that consultation which underpin its plans for a new-look league.

Fans protest against Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke before the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Friday April 23, 2021.
Arsenal fans protest against the European Super League in 2021.
Kirsty O'Connor

They say talks they have had with clubs across Europe have led to the project re-opening, as teams have felt financial problems linked to the dominance of the Premier League on television and its transfer market.

Speaking to a German newspaper, A22 chief executive Bernd Reichart said: “The foundations of European football are in danger of collapsing.

“It’s time for a change. It is the clubs that bear the entrepreneurial risk in football. But when important decisions are at stake, they are too often forced to sit idly by on the sidelines as the sporting and financial foundations crumble around them.

“Our talks have also made it clear that clubs often find it impossible to speak out publicly against a system that uses the threat of sanctions to thwart opposition.

“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.”

Very little is known at this stage how the league will work long-term. The previous concept included six Premier League clubs: Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

The latest version of the project has been kept secret, but European footballing giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have been involved in the discussions.

There has already been backlash to the announcement, with La Liga president Javier Tebas calling it “the wolf, who today disguises himself as a granny to try to fool European football.”

Football Supporters’ Association chief executive Kevin Miles likened the European Super League to a twitching corpse on Thursday.

Police look on as protests take place against Chelsea's involvement in the new European Super League outside Stamford Bridge, London. Picture date: Tuesday April 20, 2021.
Chelsea fans protest against the European Super League in 2021.
Ian West

“The walking corpse that is the European Super League twitches again with all the self-awareness one associates with a zombie,” Miles said.

“Their newest idea is to have an ‘open competition’ rather than the closed shop they originally proposed that led to huge fan protests.

“Of course an open competition for Europe’s top clubs already exists – it’s called the Champions League.

“They say ‘dialogue with fans and independent fan groups is essential’ yet the European Zombie League marches on – wilfully ignorant to the contempt supporters across the continent have for it.”

A22 has challenged UEFA and FIFA’s right to block the formation of the Super League and sanction the competing clubs in the courts, arguing the governing bodies are abusing a dominant position under EU competition law.

The European Court of Justice is due to give its final ruling in the case later this year, but a non-binding opinion delivered by the Advocate General in the case in December said rules allowing UEFA and FIFA to block the formation of new competitions was compatible with EU law.

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