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Explainer: The Controversy Around European Super League

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Late on Sunday, 12 teams confirmed they intend to join the European Super League as founders. The Premier League’s Big Six; Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Manchester United and Tottenham and will be joined by Spanish giants Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid, with Italian heavyweights, Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan, will all found the new competition.

The new format has been put forward as a rival to the UEFA Champions League, not as a replacement to domestic leagues, but there are fears it could have wider ramifications.

Criticisms

The Union of European Football Association (UEFA), in a joint statement with the Football Associations of the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and Italian Serie A, blasted the plans and did not rule out taking legal action over the proposals, insisting players involved would be banned from all other competitions at domestic, European or world level and could be prevented from representing their national teams.

The proposal also met fierce criticism from the worlds of sport and politics. British Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, said “I think it’s wrong, I think it’s something that’s going in the wrong direction for football – for great English and British clubs – and it’s going in the wrong direction for fans,” he said.

“I can’t think that it’s the right way forward.”

He added: “Oliver Dowden, the secretary of state, is going to be making a statement a bit later on today about some of the things we could consider to try and encourage people to think of another approach.

“People in this country are committed to the success of their local clubs. I don’t think you want to deracinate it (club football) and create this European Super League, which would basically take a lot of the cash away from clubs that really need it.”

Other political figures who have raised an issue include the London Mayor, Mr Sadiq Khan and President of France, Mr Emmanuel Macron, who all condemned the plans before the proposals were confirmed.

Former Manchester United captain, Gary Neville, also l called for his former club, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool to be relegated as punishment for their involvement. Others including Mesut Ozil, Luis Figo, Ander Herrera among many have also lambasted the decision.

European Super League Format

The Super League’s founding clubs plan to start the competition from the 2022-23 season. Here is what they hope it will look like.

The annual competition will be composed of 20 clubs each season. That number will be made up of 15 “Founding Clubs”, 12 of which were confirmed last night with three additional to join. It has been rumoured that Bayern Munich and Paris St. Germain (PSG) will also join but are bidding their time.

Plans include one-off payments of up to £303 million to the 15 founder members, although only six will receive the full amount.

Five places will be open to clubs who qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.

The Super League will start in August, with two groups of 10 clubs playing home and away.

The top three from either group all progress to the quarter-finals, with clubs fourth and fifth in either group taking part in a two-legged playoff for the final places in the last eight.

The knockout stages will replicate the current Champions League format, with two-legged ties leading up to a final held at a neutral venue.

All matches will be played midweek possibly with the exception of the final with the founders planning to continue participating in their own domestic leagues, which the founding clubs insist “remains at the heart of the club game”.

Clubs involved would play between 18 and 23 Super League matches per season.

Clubs Renounce ECA Membership

Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal resigned from the European Club Association (ECA) with Manchester United Chairman, Mr Ed Woodward, stepping down from his role with UEFA following the fallout. This means that Mr Woodward will no longer hold his UEFA role.

Arsenal’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Vinai Venkatesham, also resigned from his position on the ECA board while Chelsea today confirmed its resignation.

What is the ECA?

The European Club Association is a body representing the interests of professional association football clubs in UEFA. It is the sole such body recognised by UEFA and has member clubs in each UEFA member association.

Fresh Development and Expectations

As the plot continues to thicken, Serie A clubs will meet today to talk about the Super League situation but Juventus, Inter and AC Milan will not attend the meeting.

Spanish clubs are planning for a meeting on Thursday to discuss Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid position after joining the competition.

UEFA’s President, Mr Alexander Ceferin, confirmed that: “The players that will play in the Super League will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros. They will not be allowed to play for their national teams.

“These are so-called big clubs, it is clear that the big clubs of today were not always big clubs. Juventus were in Serie B, Man United before Sir Alex Ferguson was I don’t know where.

“We will do the sanctions we can do within the law, of course.”

They are also a likelihood that punishment will also be given to the clubs if talks fail in the coming days.

Business Post will continue to monitor the situation.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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