New European Super League format proposed after court ruling

A22, the company who supported the failed European Super League, have put forward a new proposal for men’s and women’s European competitions.

The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday morning that attempts from UEFA and FIFA to ban clubs from joining a breakaway European Super League was unlawful, though the judgment did not mean a new league would “necessarily be approved”.

The new proposal would involve 64 men’s clubs across three leagues – the Star League, the Gold League and the Blue League – and would be based on sporting merit, rather than involving permanent members.

The two top tiers would include 16 clubs, with the bottom rung involving 32, and would be available to watch via a new digital streaming platform.

The women’s competition proposal includes 32 clubs across two leagues, each containing 16 sides.

In response to Thursday’s court ruling, a UEFA statement read: “UEFA takes note of the judgment delivered today by the ECJ in the European Super League case.

“This ruling does not signify an endorsement or validation of the so-called ‘super league’; it rather underscores a pre-existing shortfall within UEFA’s pre-authorisation framework, a technical aspect that has already been acknowledged and addressed in June 2022. UEFA is confident in the robustness of its new rules, and specifically that they comply with all relevant European laws and regulations.

“UEFA remains resolute in its commitment to uphold the European football pyramid, ensuring that it continues to serve the broader interests of society. We will continue to shape the European sports model collectively with national associations, leagues, clubs, fans, players, coaches, EU institutions, governments and partners alike.

“We trust that the solidarity-based European football pyramid that the fans and all stakeholders have declared as their irreplaceable model will be safeguarded against the threat of breakaways by European and national laws.”

The badges of Real Madrid and FC BarcelonaThe badges of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona

Real Madrid and Barcelona are strong European Super League advocates / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Real Madrid

“At Real Madrid, we welcome with great satisfaction the decision taken by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which is responsible for guaranteeing our principles, values and freedoms,” president Florentino Perez said.

“In the coming days we will study the scope of this ruling in detail, but I would like to anticipate two conclusions of great historical significance. Firstly, that European club football is not and will never again be a monopoly.

“And secondly, that from today the clubs will be the masters of their destiny. We, the clubs, see our right to propose and promote European competitions that modernise our sport and attract fans from all over the world fully recognised. In short, today the Europe of freedoms has triumphed once again, and today football and its fans have triumphed too.”

Barcelona

A Barcelona club statement said: “As one of the clubs driving the Super League project, FC Barcelona feels that the sentence paves the way for a new elite level football competition in Europe by opposing the monopoly over the football world, and wishes to initiate new discussions as to the path that European competitions should take in the future.”

Javier TebasJavier Tebas

Javier Tebas is an outspoken critic of the “elitest model” / David Benito/GettyImages

The news has not been welcomed by everybody, with outspoken La Liga president Javier Tebas one of the first to vent his frustration at what he perceives to be A22’s continued attempts at ‘destabilising’ the game of football.

“Today, more than ever, we reiterate that the ‘Super League’ is a selfish and elitist model. Anything that is not fully open, with direct access only through the domestic leagues, season by season, is a closed format. European football has spoken. Listen.

“The UEC resolutely supports UEFA as the regulator of European football, firmly opposing A22’s efforts to destabilise the game.

“The Super League proposition is an elitist move aimed at concentrating power and financial gains in the hands of a few clubs, undermining merit.”

Atletico Madrid, one of the ESL founders, have also condemned the new plans tabled by A22 in a statement: “The European football family does not want the European Super League. Germany, France, England, Italy, Spain (except for Real Madrid and Barcelona), etc. they don’t want the Super League.

“We are in favour of protecting the great family of European football, of protecting the domestic leagues and through them achieving qualification for European competitions on the field of play each season.”

“With the recent rulings in regard to FIFA’s football agency regulations, and now this, it could be said that competition law has given FIFA (and now UEFA) a real beating as 2023 draws to a close,” leading sports lawyer and partner at Leathes Prior, Dan Chapman, told 90min.

“This decision is significant in that it is another blow to the supremacy that FIFA would prefer to have when regulating their sport – essentially the Courts have said they cannot simply prevent competitors to their competitions by ‘abusing a dominant position’ – but it does not mean, and far from it, that a Super League will now proceed.  

“It does mean however that were clubs interested in forming such a breakaway, there is now a slightly more open door available to them,  but all manner of logistical, practical and legal issues would remain. The real story here is that competition law is telling football that it is ultimately in charge, not the other way around.”

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