European Super League: Revamped proposal for new competition revealed

European Court of Justice ruled that Uefa and Fifa's moves to block rival competition were unlawful

Backers of the breakaway European Super League have announced plans for a new tournament. Reuters
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Promoters of the breakaway European Super League on Thursday announced plans for a new 64-team men's tournament following a ruling from the European Court of Justice that stated that Uefa and Fifa broke the law by blocking a rival competition.

The original league proposal in 2021, which included six top teams from England, three from Italy and three from Spain, fell apart just days after its creation following a public uproar and threats from world governing body Fifa and Uefa of sanctions.

On Thursday, Europe's top court adjudged that "the Fifa and Uefa rules making any new interclub football project subject to their prior approval, such as the Super League, and prohibiting clubs and players from playing in those competitions, are unlawful".

And soon after the legal victory, A22 Sports Management, which was set up in late 2022 to promote the Super League after a failed launch, announced plans for a new competition.

According to them, the tournament will feature promotion and relegation and would be broadcast live for free "on a new streaming platform" called Unify.

"Football is free. Free from the monopoly of UEFA, free to pursue the best ideas without fear of sanctions," A22 CEO Bernd Reichart said in a streamed video presentation in reaction to the court's ruling.

What are the new ESL proposals?

The original project featured just 12 clubs. However, now the proposal involves 64 teams to be split into three separate leagues, with 16 clubs in the top Star league, divided into two groups of eight.

A second tier, known as the Gold league, would feature 16 clubs in two groups of eight. The third tier, the Blue league, would have 32 clubs in four groups of eight. Also, a women's competition with 32 clubs across two leagues has been proposed.

"Participation will be based on sporting merit. There will be no permanent members, and clubs will remain committed to their domestic leagues," Reichart claimed.

A22 also said that it will offer "a minimum of €400 million ($439m)" in solidarity payments to other European clubs, "more than double the current amount" distributed by Uefa.

However, the path ahead is not so straightforward. The European Club Association (ECA) said football on the continent is "more united than ever" despite the top court ruling.

"European Club Association (ECA), representing nearly 500 professional football clubs across Europe, takes note of the judgment issued by the European Court of Justice today," it said in a statement.

"To be absolutely clear, the judgment in no way whatsoever supports or endorses any form of Super League project."

Also, English clubs are still unlikely to join a revived plan. The league’s financial power has grown in the past two years, and a UK government bill announced last month proposed powers to block English teams from joining a breakaway league.

Manchester United promptly issued a statement distancing themselves from any new competitions.

It read: "Our position has not changed. We remain fully committed to participation in UEFA competitions, and to positive cooperation with UEFA, the Premier League, and fellow clubs through the ECA on the continued development of the European game."

Updated: December 22, 2023, 6:47 AM