European Super League plans dealt major blow after Uefa and Fifa blocks are backed

Fans and governing bodies welcome new legal report

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The prospect of a European Super League appears dead in the water after a key legal opinion was issued on Thursday.

Uefa and Fifa's rules allowing them to block new competitions, as they did with the Super League when it launched in April last year, was deemed to be lawful in an initial opinion released by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The issuing of the threat of sanctions to clubs seeking to participate in unapproved leagues was also deemed compatible with EU law by the Advocate General (AG) in the case.

Uefa welcomed the opinion, which it described as “unequivocal”, while the European Club Association said it was a “clear rejection” of the efforts made last year by 12 of the continent’s top clubs to form a new league.

The clubs announced themselves as founder members of a new Super League late on April 18 last year, with the stated intention being for 15 clubs to be permanent members, with five extra clubs invited on a seasonal basis.

The six Premier League sides that signed up to the project – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – quickly withdrew their support after a backlash from fans.

However, the plans have not been scrapped completely, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus still pushing the idea.

Those backing the Super League took the matter to court in Spain initially, with a Madrid commercial court asking the ECJ to rule on whether Uefa and Fifa abused a dominant position by blocking the league and seeking to sanction the clubs.

The opinion of AG Athanasios Rantos is non-binding, pending the final ruling from the court expected next year, but if the final ruling mirrors this opinion it appears to rule out the possibility of a league even vaguely similar to the one proposed last year ever operating within the European football mainstream.

Uefa has faced threats of a breakaway by Europe’s top clubs almost ever since the European Cup – the forerunner to the Champions League – began in 1955, with the 2021 attempt only the most recent. But, if this opinion is endorsed by the court judges, then any clubs would have to be prepared to break away completely from the existing football framework.

Uefa said in a statement: “Uefa warmly welcomes today’s unequivocal opinion recommending a ruling of the ECJ in support of our central mission to govern European football, protect the pyramid and develop the game across Europe.

“The opinion reinforces the central role of federations in protecting the sport, upholding fundamental principles of sporting merit and open access across our members, as well as uniting football with shared responsibility and solidarity.”

Fifa also issued a statement welcoming the opinion, as did the ECA, which in all represents nearly 250 clubs across the continent.

The reaction of supporters to the plans were key in the Super League’s collapse, and Football Supporters Europe said on Thursday: “Last year, 12 obscenely wealthy clubs tried to destroy European football by creating a closed breakaway league.

“They failed because fans across the continent, including their own, stood in solidarity against their plans. Three clubs continue to cling on to their ill-conceived plan in a strained attempt to save themselves from their own apparent financial mismanagement.

“Today’s opinion announced by Advocate General Rantos chimes with the position of football supporters across the continent. Giving even more money and power to a few would be catastrophic, enriching a handful of clubs at the expense of all other levels of the game.”

Updated: December 15, 2022, 3:02 PM