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All you need to know about the controversial European Super League

Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Milan, Real Madrid and Spurs were announced as founding members of the new league

A group of 12 European clubs – six in the English Premier League and three apiece from Serie A and La Liga – announced plans on Monday to launch a new tournament in a move that has rocked the world of football.

The 20-team competition to rival the Champions League has been met with mixed reactions from club supporters.

UEFA and FIFA have been quick to condemn the actions of the clubs, even going further to threaten to ban players from the clubs involved from participating in the world cup or any national tournament for that matter.

What is the Super League and who are the founding clubs?

The 12 founding clubs of the competition include Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham from the Premier League; Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid from La Liga; and Inter, Juventus and AC Milan from Serie A.

The CEO of Bayern Munich, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has stated that his club has been approached but have rejected joining the European Super League (ESL) on matters of principle, saying: “We’re not inside because we don’t want to be part of it.”

“We are happy to make the Champions League and do not forget the responsibility towards our fans, who are generally against such reform. And we also feel the responsibility towards football in general.”

Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund have also been approached, but the latter rejected the invitation to join the ESL.

The structure of the ESL is such that the 15 permanent clubs would be immune to relegation and therefore guaranteed spots in the Super League permanently irrespective of their placement on their league table.

An ESL press statement reads: “The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model.
“Further, for a number of years, the Founding Clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis.

“By bringing together the best clubs and best players in the world, the Super League will deliver excitement and drama never before seen in football.”

Proposed timeline

Plans to introduce the ESL is imminent, according to the statement.

There are indications, however, that negotiations are still ongoing, with clear signs that the backlash from fans and the football world may lead to a rethink of plans regarding the ESL’s introduction.
What has been said?

Prominent figures in the game and supporters the world over have wholesomely criticised the introduction of the breakaway league. Spirit of Shankly, Liverpool supporters union has described the ESL as “embarrassing” adding that the club’s owners FSG “have ignored fans in their relentless and greedy pursuit of money.

“Football is ours not theirs. Our football club is ours not theirs,” they added.

Gary Neville has also weighed in, saying “I’m not against the modernisation of football competition, but to bring forward proposals in the wake of Covid is an absolute scandal. United and the rest of the big six clubs that have signed up to it should be ashamed of themselves, Neville told Sky Sports.

“It’s been damned and rightly so. I’m a Man Utd fan and have been for 40 years. I’m disgusted with Manchester United and Liverpool most.

“Liverpool, they pretend ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, the people’s club, the fans’ club. Man Utd, 100 years born out of workers around here and they’re breaking away into a league without competition, that they can’t be relegated from.

“It’s pure greed. They’re imposters. They’re nothing to do with football in this country. There’s 100 years of history in this country from fans that have lived and loved these clubs, and they need protecting.

The way forward

The introduction of the European Super League will effectively doom the Champions League, with a competition where only the elite partake a far too appetising a concept for TV sponsors to resist and the Super League’s ‘imminent’ introduction point to the competition not lacking sponsorship in its inception.

This no doubt threatens the integrity of UEFAs competition. An official statement from them reads: “We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.

“As previously announced by FIFA and the six Confederations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.”

The world of football is at a crossroads. It may be a power play from the clubs involved to have greater control than they have in the current setup or a legitimate bid to introduce a new competition. Be that as it may, one thing is for sure, the game is in for change; good or bad? Time will tell.

Festus Oppong Kwabena Asante

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