It is now official. Twelve major European clubs announced the creation of their own competing Champions League competition on Sunday April 18. This “Super League” will be made up of “founding clubs” which include Italian, English and Spanish teams: AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham. “The inaugural season (…) will start as soon as possible”, continues the text, without setting a precise timetable, and three other clubs will be invited. This project, explain its promoters, is dedicated to “generate additional resources for the whole football pyramid”.
The founding clubs will receive “a one-off payment of around 3.5 billion euros”, specifies the press release, “intended only for infrastructure investments and offset the impact of the Covid-19 crisis”. If this figure is confirmed, it assumes much higher revenues than those obtained by UEFA for all of its club competitions (Champions League, Europa League and European Supercup), which had generated 3.2 billion dollars. euros of TV revenue in 2018-2019.
>> We explain the European Super League project, the new competition that 12 big clubs want to launch
According to its promoters, this “Super League” would operate in the form of a regular season between 20 clubs, fifteen of them (“the founding clubs”) being automatically qualified each year and the other five benefiting from invitations. “through a system based on their performance from the previous season”. At the end of this first phase starting in August, end of season play-offs would be organized until May to award the trophy.
This is a real declaration of war by these wealthy clubs on UEFA, the European football association which organizes the prestigious Champions League. Even before the officialization of this new competition, it threatened to exclude dissident teams from any competition at national, European or world level “. The UEFA Executive Committee was to meet on Monday to endorse a reform of its Champions League, supposed to cut the rug from under the feet of supporters of a private competition.
Difficult, now, to know what will happen to the expected reform of the Champions League by 2024. This overhaul built in connection with the European Association of Clubs (ECA) which brings together the tenors of the continent, is supposed be adopted on Monday by UEFA with the replacement of the group stage by a mini-championship with 36 clubs intended to guarantee more matches, and therefore more income, for the big clubs.
UEFA, on the other hand, thanked clubs from other countries, “in particular the French and German clubs, which refused to embark on this path”. And indeed, PSG and Bayern Munich, finalists of the last Champions League, are not among these founding clubs of the “Super League”.
All day Sunday, positions had multiplied to denounce the creation of such a closed competition between wealthy clubs, starting with the European Club Association (ECA), which includes all the top names in European football. “The ECA, as the representative body of 246 leading clubs across Europe, reaffirms its commitment to work on the development of the UEFA club competition model, together with UEFA, for the cycle starting in 2024 “, said this union chaired by the Italian Andrea Agnelli, boss of Juventus Turin.
Symbol of the importance of the file, the Elysee has castigated a project “threatening the principle of solidarity and sporting merit” and the Minister for Sports Roxana Maracineanu denounced a “VIP club of a powerful few”. Another political reaction, that of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for whom this project “would be very damaging to football” : “It would hit our national football right in the heart and cause concern among fans across the country.”, he tweeted.